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Sporting News: Ray Lewis sixth "most-hated" NFL player

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One of the sport's greatest continues to get unjustified hate.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Lewis has been a very polarizing player throughout his career. Despite being one of the best defenders ever, a vocal leader on the field, and a generous man off it, Lewis has still attracted his fair share of haters for one reason or the other, as evidenced by his placing on Bill Bender's "40 most hated NFL players of all time" list.

"Lewis' career was threatened when he was charged with murder in the death of two men who were attacked after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta in 2000. The charges were dropped in exchange for testimony, and Lewis would eventually go on to help Baltimore win two Super Bowls as a team leader until he retired in 2012. Lewis critics, however, still exist to this day."

Off-the-field concerns aside, I have a real hard time understanding the hate for Lewis. A defensive mastermind, any good fan of the sport would be in awe at the defensive showcase he put on each and every Sunday. In addition, Lewis never really resorted to dirty tactics on the field, playing fair football. Playing for the Ravens for 17 seasons, Lewis also became the face of a young franchise, and was the backbone of a defense for almost two decades. Lewis was outspoken and vocal as a leader, but never talked trash or acted like a bad sport. After all, all eyes were on him as one of football's best, and as a role model to many fans.

But I'm sure what Ray is most proud of is not his on-field accolades, but what he's done for the city of Baltimore instead. In addition to revitalizing the city with two championships, Lewis has also helped the city in many other ways as a community servant. In 2015 during the riots in Baltimore, Lewis opted to stay in Baltimore instead of attending the draft as an analyst for ESPN.

"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."

However, people are entitled to their own opinions, and they can certainly say what they wish to say about one of the game's greatest. In the end, all of the love for Ray in Baltimore, a city that Ray has held so near and dear, will cancel out any of the opposition from elsewhere.