|"This right here makes us stronger." - Ray Lewis|
On Sunday, pro football player and future NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and his Baltimore Ravens teammates will be playing in Super Bowl XLVII. If the wife of New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker had any say in the matter, Lewis would be somewhere spending the rest of his life behind bars for a couple of murders in which she believes he committed, despite having never been found guilty.
There is a part of me that empathizes with Anna. On the surface, her words are no different than sentiments I've expressed towards O.J. Simpson and my undying belief that the former NFL star walked away scot-free after brutally murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her alleged lover Ronald Goldman. Although a jury decided otherwise, there remains a strong feeling in the pit of my stomach which refuses to allow me to agree with those twelve members.
Fortunately, for both men, the criminal justice system isn't based upon gut, only hard evidence, and due process of the accused. Since justice was presumably served - no harm, no foul. In fact, Lewis pled guilty to a lesser charge of obstruction of justice, admitting he initially lied to police about not knowing the two co-defendants in which jurors subsequently ruled acted in self-defense.
Ray Lewis tried to protect his friends after his friends protected themselves from two unruly individuals outside of an Atlanta nightclub.
Now, I don't know about you, but where I'm from, one would be hard-pressed to find a team of ambitious prosecutors willing to plea murder charges down to a relative misdemeanor, especially in a case so high-profile. That, to me, assured the blame against Ray Lewis was a stretch in the first place and unjustified, as observing attorney's agreed. While each verdict must be respected under the guidance of law, in my opinion, Simpson's trial differed based on the clear and convincing evidence presented against him.
As a result, I honestly believed the State of California proved its case against Juice. Even he looked to be in total disbelief as the shocking verdict was read.
Fittingly enough, Anna Walker later apologized and quickly blamed her remarks on being "caught up in the moment" after Baltimore's stunning upset victory over her husband's team in last week's AFC Championship game. She also spoke on Ray Lewis fathering multiple kids by multiple women, which isn't a crime, per se, only to imply Lewis has no morals.
So I am wondering. When sports heroes are charged with serious crimes and evidence is presented, tried, and has ultimately failed the required beyond-a-reasonable-doubt burden, is it fair for the guilty stigma to remain?