New Direction

Sometimes the more severe consequences in life of being in self-confinement, can stir a different mind frame and personality to a person. In athletics crime is always a related statistic, and usually that player is never given another opportunity.

For Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, the Ravens haven’t treated him with added baggage of a criminal athlete at all. He has been with the organization since 2000, and many people forget that he outplayed Priest Holmes as a rookie. Not only that, but the size and dominant speed of Lewis is unmatched in the league. The reverse psychology and support of the Ravens organization, has to make Lewis feel like he has a true family backing him and not just a place to work.

It isn’t the first time a Lewis in Baltimore has been in trouble with the law. Who can forget when Ray Lewis was in an orange jumpsuit, and facing murder charges? Jamal Lewis’s situation was totally different, and involved him making a drug deal over his cell phone. With the obvious evidence in his guilt, Jamal Lewis made the right decision by pleading guilty.

The punishment and severity of his crime obviously could have been a lot worse. But there is a lot of maturing and change Lewis went through from the year 2000. 2000, he was a pressured first round rookie with an unclear future, and made a bad mistake. In no way does that change the fact what he did, but the pattern of deals didn’t continue. If that were the case, Lewis would have been facing Nate Newton charges.

It’s still unclear why Lewis committed the act, as he was signed to a lucrative first round deal. The crime was indelible, like a permanent scar on one’s body from child hood. You have to admire how Lewis handled the whole situation, as he battled the duration of last season with the charges and still managed to have a solid year. The year also featured ups and downs for injuries for Lewis, which could have been a double dagger for him to give up. Instead he finished the year with a huge game against Miami.

When he was back the Ravens were soaring and came close to sneaking into the playoffs. The dexterity and definition of the Ravens without Lewis, is comparable to what the Dolphins were without Ricky Williams. With Lewis out of the lineup, Kyle Boller becomes a target as an adventure arcade experiment gone wrong. With Lewis in the lineup, Boller actually matured right in front of Brian Bellick and the Ravens as a quarterback. It took some time, but Boller’s confidence finally started to peep above with a representation of a leader that can follow, instead of Boller following a playbook with giddy steps.

The Ravens defense has remained strong, intact, and bread for battle for several years, but the finality of a breakdown is always around the corner. That won’t happen next season, but the repeat letdowns of offensive struggles have to disappear. Defense does win championships, but a little help from the offense goes a long way.

Jamal Lewis’s time in prison, has allowed him to re-find himself, and remember his roots. All the hard work he did to get where he is at was almost lost because of a stupid mindless mistake. Every human makes mistakes, but a mistake can propel into several or guide into perseverance. Word out of Baltimore camp is that Lewis has taken the time to his best use, and is mentally right and physically fit even more.

Lewis has been automatically a top five back every season, and notching the top three is a given this year. He averages almost five yards a carry, and has the blazing speed and vision to turn an opponent into a tipsy pretzel dominoe on the ground. New England and Indianapolis will have eyes glued on them, but the Ravens talent all around is hard not to stick near or around the Colts and Patriots.


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