Sports columnist Mike Preston talks about Ray Lewis' comments on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco not having passion for the game. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
In 17 years with the Ravens, Ray Lewis showed a knack for dropping into coverage and became just one of six linebackers to finish with at least 30 interceptions. So it should come as no surprise that Lewis can still backpedal, which he did Monday.
Lewis, who is wearing a shirt and tie and appears to be sitting in the back seat of a car, spoke for 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
"I've got to say this man to man, from my heart," he began. "Let me tell you something, man. I'm a Raven for life, but Joe Flacco, what I was talking about, my brother, it wasn't even about you. It wasn't even personal. It was just me being frustrated about watching something that I had control over for so many years, which was men and inspiring them to go on and do things. And guess what? Like everybody else, I lashed out at the quarterback because quote-unquote that's the person who's supposed to carry us or do whatever.
"Brother, your personality is what it is. You're a man, and you put on your pants one leg at a time just like everybody else. Listen, from a man, you'll never hear it again. I'm sorry for ever even calling out your name and putting your name into context of making you try to be anything that I am or anything that you're not.
"Tough loss yesterday, tough loss for the Ravens. But I learned something, I learned something. It's not the mistake. It's being OK with going to correct the mistake, and my mistake is, I would never speak out of turn about a man who is going out there and doing whatever he's got to do to try to help his team win."
Lewis sparked the controversy when he talked on Fox Sports 1 on Thursday about Flacco's seeming lack of emotion.
"Gifted? Absolutely. Passionate about what he do? I've never seen that," Lewis said. "I don't know what that looks like."
A little later, Lewis said, "Maybe it's because his personality just isn't that personality. He's not a rah-rah guy. He won't say much. But in the game of football, there has to be some burning fire behind you."
"It's a little surprising coming from Ray, but it's been something I've dealt with probably back before high school," Flacco said. "It's just part of my personality. When things are going good, it's questioned as if it's a good thing. When things aren't going as well as you might like them to be, it's always a question as to whether my personality ... fits what an NFL quarterback should be. It's not anything I'm not used to. But it is a little bit different coming from Ray."
Strong safety Eric Weddle and scores of fans pointed out that Flacco helped Lewis close out his storied career with a victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII to cap the 2012 season. Lewis addressed that line of thinking in his video.
"It's funny because I heard people speak all week about, 'He carried me to a Super Bowl. He carried us to a Super Bowl,'" Lewis said. "Let me correct you. No, we carried each other. That's what champions do. That's what teams do. They carry each other. And when you find yourself in a hole and when you find yourself going through something, some leader must emerge. Somebody must rise and become that person. Maybe my frustration came because I couldn't help, I couldn't do nothing. But I can say I'm sorry, my brother. Move on. Keep moving. Big division game this week. Let's get back focus. And this is really for anybody. If you wronged someone, if you said something out of your mouth that you know you should correct, correct it – man to man, woman to woman."