Could Ray Lewis be Right?

In January of 2010, we wrote an article on The New Orleans Saints football team. An interesting factoid was found in an article published at ESPN that stated this:

Maybe you use numbers: 84 percent of the televisions in town were tuned to the recent Monday night game against the Patriots. Maybe you use bizarre trends, such as an NOPD cop telling me the 911 calls almost stop when the Saints play and there’s been only one murder during a game this year.

Nothing unifies a city like a winning football team. Nothing stops Black people – murders, robbery and assaults are monopolized by Black people in New Orleans – from engaging in crime quite like a winning football team.

But what happens when you remove football – a winning or losing team – from the equation? Ray Lewis, once a suspect in a murder himself, has an idea:

In an interview with ESPN that aired over the weekend, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said that if the NFL lockout results in a lost season, crime rates will increase. “Watch how much crime picks up if you take away our game,” Lewis told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. Pressed to explain why, Lewis replied, “There’s nothing else to do Sal.”

Are Americans really so addicted to professional football that its absence will lead people to go on some kind of crime rampage? Or, as Lewis seems to be implying, is it such a potent distraction that it keeps us occupied, and our violent tendencies sated? Better to watch Troy Polamalu knock a guy unconscious than doing it yourself. By that logic, crime rates should increase once the season’s over.

The NFL lockout does seem to be leading to an increase in criminal behavior among one demographic: NFL players. According to the’s John Mitchell, arrests among NFL players have spiked during the lockout this spring.

We’ve written about the relationship between sports and crime a number of times, including here, when Dubner took on French political scientist Sebastien Roche and his theory that sport causes crime. More recently, Freakonomics contributor Justin Wolfers reported on a study showing that crime rates spike during college football game days.

Is Ray Lewis, himself a suspect once in murder case in Atlanta, actually stating that unless football is played on Sunday’s the streets of the 32 cities that are home to NFL franchises will run with blood?:

“Do this research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game,” Lewis said. “There’s too many people that live through us, people live through us. Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I’m not talking about the people you see all the time.”

Asked to explain why crime would increase without NFL games, Lewis said: “There’s nothing else to do, Sal.”

Lewis said he hopes that both sides in the labor dispute can put pride and ego aside and consider what their failure to reach an agreement says to the average fan.

“There’s people who are really struggling for real,” Lewis said. “There’s real struggles out there.”

Judging by the empirical evidence offered by New Orleans cops from the Saints run to the Super Bowl, we’d say Lewis might be on to something. We already know the chicken wing industry is going to suffer if the NFL season is not played, and now Ray Lewis has stated the unpleasant truth that would-be gang-bangers, thugs, and criminals will be let loose upon the nation if no season is played.

Conversely, Ray Lewis has finally provided compelling evidence for how the criminal class among us can be pacified and placed into a docile state: year-around football. Lewis plays for the Baltimore Ravens, in a town swamped in Black crime (the “youths” and “teens” written about frequently in The Baltimore Sun committing crime are almost all Black)

Members of the city council had this to say:

“I would hope that it would not increase crime without football. Baltimore is a place where we do have other things for people to enjoy,” said Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton.

Another city councilman says if Ray Lewis is that concerned about the possibility of crime increasing, he should do something about it. He issued a challenge to the linebacker.

“Well, Ray…that’s pretty irresponsible. If you really feel that way, then come on down. We could use your help,” said Councilman Jim Kraft.

All council members agree that the NFL lockout will have a detrimental financial impact in Baltimore and other cities with NFL teams.

Considering that nearly 70 percent of the NFL players are Black, and that a vast majority of these Black athletes come from “tough” upbringings and backgrounds, it’s safe to say we should take Lewis’ statement as fact. We are talking about a league that sees it’s players personify the “Nigga rich” mindset, with first-year players racking up hundreds of thousands in debt. During this lockout, many players have resorted to loan sharks to survive.

Consider that one, unnamed player recently took out a $500,000 loan at 23 percent APR.

Look, our jails are already full of criminals. We are forced to release tens of thousands because we can’t pay for them anymore.

For the love of God, listen to Ray Lewis. Unless you want anarchy on fall Sunday afternoons in Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York City, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Atlanta, St. Louis, Green Bay (wait… that city never has crime), Charlotte, Miami, Jacksonville, New Orleans and many others, come to an agreement and have an NFL season.

If not, Ray Lewis has warned us all.



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