NFL’s Critical Thinking Gone Astray
The National Football League is one of the most famous organizations in the country. It is home to some of the most brilliant athletic legacies to call their own. College football stars dream of hearing their name announced on Monday night in front of thousands of screaming fans. Regular people, sports fans or not, know of, or have heard of, some of the football superstars that have reached stardom since playing in the NFL. The NFL has turned football into a more glamorous sport. The players and coaches have multi-million dollar contracts and live enchanting lifestyles, being the envy of every wide-eyed, football-loving fan. The players serve as spokes-men and role models for young students who turn out to be their biggest fans, aspiring to be just like them one day. Yet, these football greats are still normal people. They are just like us; they have families, drive to work, and even make mistakes. The difference between the NFL player’s mistake and a mistake that an average person makes is that their mistake is broadcasted all over every great TV network, whereas our mistake is seen maybe by a handful of people. There have been numerous cases that have gone public with large mistakes made by NFL players. The fans of the players associated with the mistake were able to devise their own opinion; however, when the NFL stands behind one player accused for murder, the fans are more apt to stand behind him as well, forgetting all about their morals and justice. This situation occurred in a murder trial in January 2000 involving the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive superstar, Ray Lewis. The NFL completely lacked critical thinking during the Ray Lewis murder investigation and trial, since he was such an iconic football player, which led to self-justification and swayed opinions. This kind of thought consequently infiltrated the football fans’ minds and caused them to become blind to the real issue.
It was January 30, 2000 and Lewis had just flown into Atlanta Georgia. In her NY Post article, writer Maureen Callahan takes the reader through that unforgettable night; Lewis was guided by his personal chauffeur, coming off of an elaborate shopping spree and he was ready to take it easy and have some drinks before attending Super Bowl XXXIV the next day (par. 4-5). After a night of drinking and girls, Lewis and two of his closest friends, Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley, got into a scuffle outside in the parking lot of the bar. The scuffle turned into a full on brawl quickly and ended with two dead civilians, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker. The two victims both were new to the area and on the right track to creating new lives; they both had found new jobs and one was a soon-to-be father (Callahan par.13). Once Lewis and his gang realized that two men were laying blood stained and dead in front of them, “Lewis yelled at [everyone] to get in the limo, and they scrambled and sped away” from the scene (Callahan par. 11). It did not take long for the men to try and hide, but police were quick on the scene. The po- lice found the limo driver shaken up and he reluctantly told the police what had just happened. According to Callahan, the police obtained an arrest warrant for Lewis and in less than 24-hours, he was arrested and his two friends, Sweeting and Oakley, turned themselves into the police (par. 20). The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens franchise were utterly shocked to hear about Lewis’ un- fortunate circumstance, however “the Ravens were standing firmly behind him” (Callahan par. 26). Lewis was graciously and surprisingly was offered a deal; he was “to testify against Sweeting and Oakley in exchange for one year’s probation on obstruction of justice” (Callahan par.28). The football star agreed to take the deal and testify against his closest friends. Sweeting and Oakley ended up being acquitted for the murder of the two civilians and Ray Lewis’s career never received any career-ending hits (Schrotenboer par. 5-8).