Former Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce weighed in on retired linebacker Ray Lewis' criticism of the defending Super Bowl champions' leadership, telling The Baltimore Sun there's a disconnect between reality and perception of how an NFL locker room actually operates.
Pryce said that for Lewis, in his current ESPN analyst job, to insinuate that incidents like kick returner Jacoby Jones being hit in the head with a champagne bottle on a party bus celebrating offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie's 34th birthday wouldn't happen under his watch is going too far. Especially considering that the Ravens dealt with much more serious off-the-field issues during the two-time NFL Defensive Player's 17-year tenure in Baltimore.
"Here's the thing about the Ray Lewis leadership thing, when you start telling the media that things would be fixed if you were there, that can be a little self-serving," said Pryce, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who now works for Fox Sports 1 on the "Crowd Goes Wild" show with Regis Philbin. "Once you read the narrative about yourself, that's the narrative you're going to stick with. God bless him, but they asked Ray that question knowing exactly what the answer will be. Me personally, Trevor Pryce, I've been to many a player function where things got a little bit out of hand, but nobody went running to the media. I've seen things happen at player functions that were crazy and I'll say, 'How could this have been avoided?' Well, the only way to avoid is to not have a party at all. It was a party, and it went wrong.
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"That's not a question of leadership. That's what is making the current Ravens upset about it is because they're saying, 'We were going to have this party regardless if Ray was here or not.' That's the disconnect between what's real and what leadership is what a leadership would do. Bryant had a party, got a bus, went to D.C, which is a safe city for the most part. It's responsible of them to get a party bus and not drink and drive. How could the incident have been avoided? Don't get on the bus and have that party, but that's not realistic. These are grown men who are going to try to unwind and have a good time on their night off, but you try to do it responsibly. To me, this doesn't show any leadership issue. It's just one thing that happened and people found out about it, but it doesn't mean the Ravens are all of a sudden out of control with Ray Lewis gone. Know what I'm saying?"
Pryce said he believes that there are several strong leaders on the Ravens' roster as well as the top of the organizational leadership structure with general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh.
"There's plenty of leadership there," said Pryce, who retired following the 2010 season after recording 91 career sacks in 14 NFL seasons, including stints with the Denver Broncos, Ravens and New York Jets. "These are grown men with families. Haloti Ngata has been there for years, Terrell Suggs has been there for years.
"The media is taking this leadership thing a little too seriously. If you need to be led, you shouldn't be playing pro football. I have always thought, you need to lead yourself. Don't expect Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs to lead you and tell you what to do. You need to lead yourself."