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Ray Lewis: 'When I played, crime went lower in Baltimore'

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said that crime was lower in Baltimore when he was playing in the NFL because “it was like nobody needs to be mad now.” (Getty Images)

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis had a tremendous NFL career — one worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

Yet the 43-year-old is trying to add an extra skillset to his resume before the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio: crime fighter.

Lewis told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley on Friday that while he was playing for the Ravens — which he did for 17 seasons — the crime rate in Baltimore went down. Yes, really.

“When I played, crime went lower in Baltimore,” Lewis told ESPN. “It’s like, nobody needs to be mad now. It’s like everybody wants to be happy and celebrate.”


Now, Lewis is right on one account. Crime rates — specifically murder rates — have risen in Baltimore in recent years. A USA Today report named Baltimore the city with the highest per capita murder rate in the nation in 2017, with almost 56 murders per 100,000 people. Its 343 murders in 2017 trailed only Chicago on the list of major cities, and marked the highest per capita rate in its history.

What that has to do with football — or Lewis playing it in Baltimore — though, is unclear.

This isn’t the first time he’s attempted to make the connection between football and crime, either. In 2011, during the NFL lockout, Lewis predicted an increase in crime if the lockout impacted the season.

“Do this research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game,” Lewis said in 2011. “There’s too many people that live through us, people live through us. Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I’m not talking about the people you see all the time.”

Football does have tremendous reach — we see it every season across all levels of the sport. There’s no disputing that.

But Lewis’ claim of singlehandedly impacting the crime rates in Baltimore seems a bit far-fetched.

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