Ray Lewis Preparing For Sept. 8 ESPN Debut, Says Criticism Will Be Honest
Some TV insiders believe ESPN analyst Ray Lewis "could do for the NFL what Charles Barkley did for NBA telecasts," according to Richard Deitsch of THE MMQB. Lewis "met with other networks, but ESPN appealed to him for a variety of reasons, including the prospect of non-Sunday work assignments." Lewis will travel to the "MNF" site "each week to serve as an analyst for 'Monday Night Countdown.'" He also will "work eight Sundays at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn., appearing on the network’s 'Sunday NFL Countdown' pregame show." Lewis will make his "debut the morning of Sunday, Sept. 8." Lewis in June "started working at his home in Baltimore with an ESPN talent coach, learning how to sit for a broadcast, how to breathe and pause properly, and how to modulate his voice levels at the right moments." He said of delivering criticism when criticism is warranted, "I would come from the most honest point ever. Period. I don’t care if it is wrong or right. ... I’m there to pay attention and give insight on the game and on each player and coach." He said that with off-the-field issues he will "be cautious in talking about individual cases." Lewis, when asked if he should be a part of any studio conversation about Aaron Hernandez said, "It would only be to give a brief explanation on what you know." He added, "Having gone through the things I have been through, what I learned from that is everybody has something they want to say. ... You can’t speak about something you do not know. Give your opinion, and keep it moving from there." Lewis is "strictly an ESPN studio host for the moment," but ESPN NFL Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said that he is "strongly considering using Lewis to work the opening round of the 2014 draft" (MMQB.SI.com, 7/22). In Baltimore, David Zurawik asked, "Will Ray Lewis be successful in making the transition to ESPN analyst?" It is "not as automatic and easy as some might think." Zurawik: "No one is a 'natural' on TV. Is Lewis willing to put in the time it takes not to be a TV bust?" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/22).