Ray Lewis is one of the smartest players in the history of the NFL. After his career in the NFL was over after winning the Super Bowl in February of 2013, Ray Lewis joined ESPN later that year in the fall and would spend two and a half years with the Monday Night Football crew, spot duty on Sunday NFL Countdown and other rare appearances on Mike and Mike and Sportscenter at the network.
Ray Lewis was recently let go by ESPN and I have to say that in the two and a half years Ray Lewis was on ESPN, I expected the company to utilize him better than they should have. On Twitter or on Facebook, for example, I would always people criticizing Ray Lewis for his knowledge of the game and quite frankly I find those people to be ignorant, to say the least.
Let me say this again. Ray Lewis is one of the smartest players in NFL history. The study habits that he showed in his 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens is something that very few people in the history of the game can match. This was a guy who would go toe to toe with quarterbacks of the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and match their smarts on the field and in preparation during the week if not more. There were a lot of times where Lewis knew where the play would go before it even happened.
I liked seeing Ray Lewis on ESPN as a commentator, but that wasn't the place where I would have put him if I was in charge. Ray Lewis to me should have had his own segment on how to study film each week and how to preparing for certain teams and quarterbacks. ESPN would let him give some insights on that from time to time, but not enough. ESPN's NFL Matchup Show would have been a good landing spot for Ray Lewis in my opinion.
I don't know why ESPN didn't dive into his knowledge of the game more, but I feel like it was a mistake not to. Ray Lewis knows so much more about the game than he was allowed or chose to speak about. Who knows? Maybe ESPN wanted to involve Ray Lewis more in that regard but he didn't want to dive into it too much or he did and ESPN didn't want to expand on that.
Regardless, there's a reason why eight defensive coaches went on to become head coaches while being alongside Ray Lewis in Baltimore. That isn't a coincidence. Ray Lewis to me should have been a bit bigger than just being an NFL pregame show analyst. I mean, that is obviously a great job to have, but I just felt like his knowledge of the game ran a lot deeper than just being an analyst in that capacity especially being a defensive player.
On TV, we are used to seeing the offensive perspective on a lot of things as it is an offensive-driven league, but defensively we don't hear about that side of the ball too much. Ray Lewis has a lot of insight on that and I think we just didn't see enough of that.