Ray Lewis is almost as known for his signature dance as he is for smashing running backs. But while Lewis usually reserves his dance for his introduction at home games, he busted it out in the Ravens backfield as the took their final kneel down on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Most people saw it as a touching and cool way for Lewis to make his final appearance at home in a Ravens uniform, but Colts receiver Reggie Wayne didn’t, going as far as to call it disrespectful.
Lewis has fired back though, saying his dance wasn’t meant be and shouldn’t have been received as “disrespectful’.
“That was about capping off a heck of a legacy of 17 years. When he was in Pop Warner playing football, I was in Baltimore. To salute my city that way, I guess the trot around the field was disrespectful too. No. It wasn’t even about them. The game was over,” Lewis said, via the team’s website. “I didn’t go towards their sideline or make no big issue of that because I’ve never been that type of player. But [it was] to salute my city, knowing that people love to see that.”
When reviewing the dance, it’s easy to see why people can be offended. If you’re a Colts fan, seeing Ray Lewis literally dance your team off the field is a pretty rough scene given how stoked most were about Indianapolis’ chances to win the game. But fandom can be set aside for fifteen seconds to thank one of the best linebackers to ever play the game for entertaining us for almost 20 years.
Kids who were born when Ray Lewis was drafted in 1996 are about to enter college — just think about that. For many of the modern NFL viewers who literally grew up with football in the late 90s/early 2000s, Lewis is the first legendary player that they’ve been able to see all the way through. We’ve lived through Ray Lewis’ entire career and for many younger viewers today, that’s a first.
And besides that, the NFL had not seen the likes of Ray Lewis since the days of Butkus or Nitschke, and it won’t see the likes of him in a great while either. There are guys in the game today capable of doing what Lewis did, but to be capable and to actually do it are two different things.
So if Ray Lewis wants to dance off the field in front of a crowd that’s stood behind him through thick and thin, he’s more than earned that right.