While his New York Daily News’ colleague Mike Lupica calmly suggests former Patriots TE / accused murder Aaron Hernandez, “could be a kind of evil the NFL has never seen before”, even invoking Walter White in the process (“maybe Hernandez wasn’t worried about threats because he was the threat”), the Daily News’ sports media columnist Bob Raissman concerns himself with ESPN’s coverage of the case. Namely, newly hired analyst Ray Lewis and how his unique personal history might give him greater insight into Hernandez’ situation than say, Chris Berman. “If ESPN wants its current coverage of the Hernandez case to have more depth, it should call on Lewis to offer commentary,” argues Raissman, quickly adding the network promises they’ll do no such thing.
When Lewis does get in front of the camera, the Hernandez case will still be in the news. Lewis must speak candidly about it while reflecting on his own past. Tom Jackson, a man of conscience, must engage him in discussion or debate. Lewis cannot give the topic cursory treatment and direct his analysis strictly to on the field matters.
It’s a tricky proposition. Even if Lewis is willing to talk openly about Hernandez, and the NFL’s problems with guns and lawlessness, ESPN did not hire him to be its NFL “crime” reporter. He should not be stereotyped as such. Yet, realistically, when you look at the roster of ESPN’s NFL studio mouths, Lewis is the one with the most experience in those particular trenches.
It will be up to the producers to strike a balance. This problem is compounded by the fact that Lewis is a TV novice. The mechanics of the job won’t be second nature to him. Having the added pressure of commenting spontaneously on such a controversial topic will make his rookie season even tougher. He will have a great opportunity to quickly establish his credibility. Yet if he stonewalls in a venue where he’s paid to be candid, Ray Lewis will have a very short TV career.
Oh yeah, It’s a very tricky proposition. Much the way no one in Bristol is in a hurry to ingratiate themselves with Ray Lewis by suggesting, “hey, you know a thing or two about being killing, covering shit up, etc., right?” odds are equally slim Raissman or any of his print colleagues will approach Lewis with a similar question, even worded diplomatically, any time in the near future.