The NFL without Ray Lewis

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Allow me to apologise in advance; this article will indeed sound like a eulogy. It’s not. This in many ways is a confession after I came to a realisation of what and who I am.

I am not a fan of the NFL.

Allow me to explain. Over the past, oh I don’t know, 10 years perhaps, there has been no sport that I have enjoyed more than the NFL. Aside from really being able to play it and compete (there is a lacking of a serious league in Australia. It’d be like me coming to America and playing Rugby. It’s the same sport but not the same game, if that makes sense…), I have done it all from a fans perspective: I’ve woken up at 4 am on Monday mornings to watch games, missed classes and work to watch big games, counted down until the release of Madden, done extensive research before fantasy football drafts in hope of gaining an advantage, purchased NFL Gamepass, purchased jerseys of favourite players ranging from Terrell Owens to Steve McNair to Ray Lewis despite really never attaching myself to a team. I just loved the game.

Or, at least, that’s what I told myself.

When I first started taking this blog seriously, I said that I would always be honest and up front with you guys (and judging from the comments and emails lately, girls as well, which is great). But in order to do that, I have to be honest with myself. What I love (d?) about the NFL is the passion, the intelligence, the skill, and the athleticism. I firmly believe that there is no sport, not even my beloved Rugby which I play, embodies this better than American Football. So why have things changed? Why, with less than a week before kick-off, that I no longer really care? Why is it that I feel that I am just simply an observer who understands the game?

I wish I could answer these questions without saying what I’m about to say: I was a Ray Lewis fan first, and a fan of the game second.

But that’s the harsh reality. It’s taken me 6 months to realise it, but it is what it is. I always thought when the season would come around, that it would be different and the spark and interest would return, but nope. I haven’t picked up Madden this year. I’m only in one fantasy football league, and that’s because my cousin Chris is in it. Yeah, I do have gamepass again, but that’s only because I forgot to turn off auto renew and they charged me for it. When I do find myself talking about football, it feels like I’m going through the motions. I’d prefer to talk about the history of football rather than the present or future. I mean, for God’s sake, we are 3 days away from kick-off and I’m in the middle of doing a countdown of the greatest performances in NBA history.

It just feels empty. It’s not the same. There are certain people in life that are irreplaceable in their fields and their legacies transcend beyond their performances. In an era where marketing and hype rules everything, when an individual is able to maintain their authenticity and not compromise on who they are despite those pressures, they can empower anyone.

The lessons that I have learned by simply observing Ray Lewis from an extreme distance have been invaluable.

Don’t laugh, Laker fans: you will feel the same way when Kobe retires.

But maybe, just maybe, this is the first test with the NFL. Can another player rise up and inspire me the way that Lewis did? It happened in the NBA after Jordan left and Bryant ascended. But as of right now, I’m not sure. It just doesn’t feel like it will happen anytime soon.

Let’s see what happens. But are you ready for some football? Not me.