The former face of the Baltimore Ravens has strong words about the way football is played in the NFL.
During an interview on Talk of Fame sports network, former linebacker Ray Lewis said he has trouble watching the NFL and why he advised his son against playing defense.
“He was playing corner his whole high school career,” Lewis said. “And I ended up telling him, ‘Son, now listen: The game is going a different way. Defenders won’t be able to defend by the time you get into the league. So if you’re going to play the game, play the game on the wide receiver’s side, so it favors you.’ I wouldn’t tell anybody to play defense anymore.”
Rayshad Lewis is a freshman at Utah State.
The interview centered on the elder Lewis’ anger about how the rules of the game have changed. He dislikes all of the penalties called against defenders and said he might not have been able to play in the NFL today, even though he retired in 2013 after many of the changes had already been instituted. Lewis went so far as to say that the rules could affect future defensive players’ earning potential.
“You can only hurt the players enough. Sooner or later, it’s going to backfire,” Lewis said. “Because you can’t keep doing guys like this and doing families like this and affecting people’s livelihoods and kids. I think sports don’t realize [that] when you start to do things like that you start to affect generations of people taking care of their families. You’re taking money away from these people.”
Lewis is not alone. Since the NFL started legislating some of the contact out of the game, many players, current and former, have expressed their displeasure with the changes.
Yes, the game is far different, but these changes were unavoidable. The scientific evidence of the damage playing football can do to a brain is undeniable. While the equipment and medical treatment is better, there are people the size of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney running nearly as fast as running backs. The game had to change, and it is going to continue to change.