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Ray Lewis to skip draft coverage and stay in Baltimore

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Baltimore Ravens great and future Hall of Fame player Ray Lewis has decided to miss Day 1 of the NFL Draft and instead spend his time in Baltimore to set things right. In the wake of mass rioting, looting and general misery that has been over Baltimore for the last 48 hours, Lewis was granted leave by ESPN to stay and help Baltimore.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens great and future Hall of Fame player Ray Lewis has decided to miss Day 1 of the NFL Draft and instead spend his time in Baltimore to set things right. In the wake of mass rioting, looting and general misery that has been over Baltimore for the last 48 hours, Lewis was granted leave by ESPN to stay and help Baltimore.

You might have seen his passionate plea to children and rioters to stay home and take out their frustrations in a more conservative and, some would say, productive way.

Lewis had this to say about his decision to skip one of the larger days of the football year:

I felt that it was more important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love. I greatly appreciate ESPN’s understanding and flexibility at this late date. I did not feel right leaving the city at this time.

Covering Lewis' shift will be ESPN Front Office Insider Louis Riddick. His front office experience of more than a decade as a pro scout and director of pro personnel will be fitting for Draft day and is a good fit for the program that ESPN will be running. Riddick will join Chris Berman, Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper Jr.

ESPN Senior coordinating producer Seth Markman had this to say about both Ray Lewis and Louis Riddick:

Few athletes are as connected to a city as Ray is to Baltimore, having played his entire career there and based on all the work he has done in that community. While we will miss him at the draft, we completely support him in this decision and we hope his involvement will help resolve the situation there.

Louis, who was already scheduled to be at the NFL Draft, is one of our most knowledgeable and respected NFL Insiders. He will be a great addition to our main set on Thursday night.

While Ravens fans will surely miss seeing Ray Lewis on the telecast, I'm sure that all will understand given the circumstances and applaud the man for trying to unite Baltimore and clean up the mess that has already been made.