Ray Lewis, the animated, outspoken, Super Bowl-winning former Baltimore Raven, has signed up to become an ESPN broadcaster.
Lewis will join the ranks of the NFL Sunday and Monday Countdown teams as a studio analyst in addition to appearing on Sportcenter and contributing to annual Super Bowl coverage, reports ESPN’s Bill Hofheimer. Lewis is slated to begin work for ESPN in August, less than two months after notching his second Super Bowl title.
Lewis’ career has been a constant point of intrigue for media and fans alike. His outlandish and often times contradictory behavior on and off the field have made him an enigmatic figure in the world of professional sports.
Lewis narrowly escaped murder charges in 2000, and instead plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice in connection with the crime. The stabbing on the night of 31 January, outside of an Atlanta nightclub saw the deaths of two men who were allegedly in Lewis’ entourage, but also marked a turning point in the young linebacker’s life. In an interview with Yahoo last January, Lewis said “what I went through actually saved my life.”
Since those dark days, Lewis accrued a resounding number of accolades, cementing his place as a shoe-in at the NFL hall of fame and as the spiritual leader of the Ravens – his only team throughout a 17-year career.
ESPN chronicled Lewis’ turbulent past and rise to preeminence in a 2012 episode of E:60, which portrays him as a changed man who grappled bouts of depression throughout a chaotic and poverty-stricken adolescence. And ESPN doesn’t seem to be wary of the stigma Lewis still carries from his conviction in 2000. But the public hasn’t forgotten, as Twitter has been abuzz with mentions of Lewis’ controversial past:
Good to see Ray Lewis on Sportscenter. He cleans up well. Didn’t even see any bloodstains on his shirt.
— Shawn Courchesne (@ShawnCourchesne) March 13, 2013
John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president of production boasted Lewis’ accomplishments: “One of the most accomplished players in NFL history, fans will be drawn to his knowledge, experience and, of course, the passion he always exudes for the game.”
Lewis added: “I’m ready to bring the same level of passion to this next phase of my life as I brought to the field during my years as a player.”