Post-game speech from Ray Lewis

Check out the video above showing Ray Lewis in the Baltimore locker room following their loss to the Patriots. You’ll be hard pressed to find a classier post-game speech from an athlete. Lewis finds a way to put the loss in perspective and motivate everyone to do something for others.

It’s hard to believe this guy has come so far since his early brushes with the law. The guy works at being a great player, and he also seems to be working on being a better human being.

Lewis will be back next year for his 17th season.

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2012 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Preview

Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers is chased out of the pocket by New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul in the first quarter in week 13 of the NFL season at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on December 4, 2011. The Packers defeated the Giants 38-35 and remain undefeated for the season at 12-0. UPI /John Angelillo

Saints @ 49ers, Saturday, 4:30PM ET
It’s no secret that the Saints have been a different team on the road this year than at home. As I pointed out in this week’s edition of “Five Questions…,” they’ve outscored opponents 329 to 143 at home this season and only 218 to 196 on the road. Sean Payton has seemingly been more conservative with his play calling as Drew Brees has thrown less touchdowns (29 to 17), more interceptions (6 to 8), has a lower average per pass attempt (8.75 to 7.99), and has been sacked more (8 to 16) on the road than at home. Gregg Williams’ defense doesn’t play with the same confidence that it does inside the Superdome either. It’s not that the Saints are a bad road team (they were 5-3 during the regular season), but they’re not the juggernaut they are at home. On the other side, there’s not much that San Francisco doesn’t do well defensively. They’re outstanding against the run, they get after the quarterback, and they’re solid in pass coverage. They also have a great special teams unit so if the Saints are sloppy on Saturday, they will fall. The question is whether or not the Niners will generate enough offense if the Saints start firing on all cylinders. San Fran doesn’t pass protect very well and if it can’t open up running lanes for Frank Gore, that’s when Alex Smith starts to get turnover-happy. It’ll be interesting to see how this matchup unfolds come Saturday.

Broncos @ Patriots, Saturday, 8:00PM ET
Tim Tebow better strap in tight because he’s not likely to see as much one-on-one coverage as Dick LeBeau showed him last week. Bill Belichick will likely keep a safety over top of Demaryius Thomas at all times and force Tebow to go through all of his reads. If he doesn’t and he starts chucking the ball up thinking he can beat New England deep like he did Pittsburgh, he could be in for a long night. On the other side, it’ll be interesting to see if Denver’s stout defense can rattle Tom Brady. One of the biggest reasons the Patriots lost in their first postseason game the last two years is because Baltimore and New York harassed Brady to know end. But New England’s pass protection has been better this season than it was last year, so if the Broncos can’t generate pressure then Brady could eat them alive. It would behoove Denver to jump out to an early lead like Miami and Buffalo did on New England the past two weeks. But with Tebow running the show, that could prove to be difficult.

Texans @ Ravens, Sunday, 1:00PM ET
This game is all about Houston’s defense. If Wade Phillips’ unit can’t slow down Ray Rice, force turnovers and create good field position for the offense, then the Texans’ season will end in Baltimore this Sunday. The Ravens’ run defense is the best in the league and they were stout in pass coverage as well. The combination of Arian Foster and T.J. Yates isn’t going to get the best of Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis. The best Yates can do is not turn the ball over and take what Baltimore gives him. Otherwise, if he’s forced to make plays then the Texans are in trouble. The Ravens were unbeatable at home this season and there are mismatches that they can take advantage of this weekend. As long as they don’t get caught looking ahead, it’s hard to envision the Ravens falling on Sunday.

Giants @ Packers, Sunday, 4:30PM ET
If the Giants play with the same confidence, swagger and determination this week at Lambeau as they did last Sunday versus the Falcons, then they have a shot. In fact, they already have a shot. The Giants have always been a dangerous underdog and when they think everyone is against them, they raise the level of their play ten-fold. It’s no coincidence that the Giants have played their best football over the past three weeks. They’re healthy and the strength of their defense (i.e. their defensive line) is now fully intact. As I’ve written so many times before, the way to beat an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers is to pressure him with your front four. If Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Rocky Benard and Justin Tuck play with the same relentless attitude this week as they did the past three, the Giants will have a shot to pull off the upset. Because their offense is certainly capable of matching Green Bay score-for-score thanks to that receiving corps and the Packers’ suspect defense. That said, Green Bay will not hand the game over on a silver platter like Atlanta did last Sunday. The Falcons played not to lose. They were timid – scared even. Rodgers plays with reckless abandon and he’s not going to be afraid to take shots downfield against New York’s vulnerable secondary unlike Matt Ryan, who never once tried to throw deep. Atlanta never adjusted its opening game plan either. You can expect Mike McCarthy to change things up if the Giants are getting the better of the Packers early on. This is going to be a great matchup and a wild ride.

Ray Lewis: Crime will increase if there’s no NFL season

Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis is introduced prior to the Ravens game against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on January 2, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

During a recent interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis suggested that crime would go up if the lockout continues and there’s no NFL season this year.

“Do this research if we don’t have a season,” Lewis said. “Watch how much evil – which we call it a crime – watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game. There’s nothing else to do, Sal.”

The crime will pick up for whom? If Lewis was referring to the fans, then I would tend to disagree with him. If he’s talking about the players, then I think he’s right on the money.

With Garrett Wolfe’s arrest in South Beach over the weekend, there have now been 13 NFL players arrested or indicted since the lockout began in mid-March. That was roughly 75 days ago, which means a NFL player has been, on average, arrested every six days since that point. (And I’m even rounding up.)

Lewis is right when he suggests, “there’s nothing else to do” for players. Without football they have plenty of disposable income (or what they think is disposable income) and all of this free time on their hands with no structure or organization when it comes to their lives. I apologize if this sounds crass, but some players simply don’t know what to do with themselves without having to report to team headquarters every day.

That said, there are plenty of players that continue to work out on their own or with teammates in preparation for an upcoming season. These are hard-working guys and I don’t want to make it sound like every player is out there committing crimes when it’s just a percentage of these boneheads. But 13 arrests in 75 days? That’s ridiculous. The union formerly known as the NFLPA should be ashamed of its defunct self.

Granted, I realize this is all very subjective. If someone were to conduct an actual study to figure out whether or not players or fans would commit more crime if there weren’t a NFL season, then they’d probably find out that fans got into more trouble. And besides, we only hear about athletes because they’re public figures. We’re not hearing about Joey Eagle fan being arrested for robbery. (Of course, there are more fans than there are players so that would have to be factored into the study as well and…I’m nauseous.)

But in this realm of subjectivity, I think Ray Lewis should be more worried about his fellow NFL brethren when it comes to crime than he is about fans.

Antonio Cromartie tells Matt Hasselbeck that he would smash his face in

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck runs off the field after losing to the Chicago Bears in the NFC divisional playoff at Soldier Field in Chicago on January 16, 2011. The Bears won 35-24. UPI/Brian Kersey

Ah, Twitter. Where athletes without internal filters can get into trouble using 140 words or less.

Earlier this week, Jets’ cornerback Antonio Cromartie bashed the NFL and player’s union for the lack of progress in the CBA negotiations. Several players, including Ray Lewis and Darnell Dockett, took issue with what Cromartie had to say and publicly supported the union.

Seahawks’ quarterback Matt Hasselbeck took things a step further by taking a cheap shot at Cromartie’s intelligence by tweeting: “Somebody ask Cromartie if he knows what CBA stands for.”

According to ESPN, the tweet was later removed but not before Cromartie found out about it. The cornerback’s response was nothing short of, well, something Antonio Cromartie would say.

“hey Matt if u have something to then say it be a man about it. Don’t erase it. I will smash ur face in.”

Realizing he said something stupid and knowing full well that the corner would in fact smash his face in, Hasselbeck quickly issued an apology to Cromartie on Twitter using the standard, “Hey man, I was just kidding about what I said earlier!” excuse.

“Sorry for the joke man. No hard feelings,” a tweet from his account said. “DB’s & QB’s have a hard time getting along I guess sometimes. lol.”

Not phased by what any of his NFL mates had to say about his comments earlier this week, Cromartie also defended himself against Lewis and Dockett.

“I don’t give a who about Ray Lewis or [Darnell Dockett] talking about what I said,” Cromartie said in a message posted on his Twitter account, according to the New York Daily News.

“There’s 10’s of thousand ppl who will lose jobs. They taking our healthcare away and for players that have surgery can’t even get rehab once March 3rd gets here.”

What’s interesting is that most fans would agree with Cromartie’s take on the situation. There needs to be less banter and more progress so that we have football next season. But the players don’t need one of their own bashing their union when they’re trying to show a united front. It definitely doesn’t help their cause when one player is telling another that he would smash his face in.

What a mess.

Ray Lewis lights up Dustin Keller [video]

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