Admit it. If your team is in the Super Bowl, you just love all the media attention. You are like a sponge, soaking all the practically 24/7 coverage on whatever cable channel you can find. You are watching some small-time cable sports announcer at 3:00 in the morning talking about the silliest things about your team’s players because it is “your” team and in some small way, you feel like you are a part of their success. It is like a two-week party. Like the players, you never know if and when you will get another chance, so you just have to get your fill while you can, and it is a bit like riding a high. Now also admit this: if your team is not in the Super Bowl, it is just so much “blah blah blah” until actual game time and maybe you will watch a little bit of coverage here and there between hockey periods, but Media Day is silly, as is following the players around town trying to see who slips out to a strip club, as are all the storylines the broadcasters try to come up with to keep our interest for two solid weeks.
This year, I fall in the latter category. Thankfully, there is hockey. I am absorbed with it, and all the hype surrounding two teams I am completely distraught to see in the Big Dance in the Big Easy can more or less happen without me. But, even with my stalwart efforts to ignore it, it seeps in. There is the Twitter chatter, the daily email alerts with sports stories, your local sports page with articles you can’t help but see as you flip to the NHL news. Try as I might to shut it out, there it is. It is the largest annual sporting event in our country; it is bigger than my ability to ignore it. But the buzz that has been getting past my filter is that this game is Ray Lewis v. Some Other Team.
I am not the only person who thinks so. Ron Cook, sportswriter for The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, beat me to the pronouncement that it is all about Ray. “This time is all about Lewis,” Cook writes, “Blame us in the media for keeping the spotlight on him. We can’t seem to get enough of him. But give Lewis credit, too. He knows about selling his brand. He’s a master at it.”
Even trying to ignore it all, I have heard about Ray and his religion, Ray and his long playing career, Ray and antler spray (seriously?), Ray and his past controversies, Ray, Ray, Ray… I will be hard pressed to stick with my original pronouncement of wanting the Ravens to win because it will just feed the machine that has become Ray Lewis.
I wondered if people outside the Steelers Nation had the same thought about Hines Ward when I saw he was going to have a cameo in The Walking Dead. He has had a lot of exposure and seems to be having a lot of fun doing it. And, of course, his fan base just loves it, me among them. But, Ravens fans will probably miss that particular episode, grumbling all the while about the over exposure of a has-been. Maybe I should try and keep that in mind when I’m grinding my teeth about Ray Lewis and his moment in the purple spotlight. Maybe I should chuckle at the Saturday Night Live spoof of him and just try and lighten up, taking comfort that, win or lose, this is the last time I have to see him on a playing field.
I’ll work on that.