Ravens' Lewis says LeBron should have stayed with Cavs
July 30, 2010
By Clark Judge
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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WESTMINSTER, Md. -- I don't know if Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is a LeBron James' fan. I didn't ask him. But I do know what he thinks about James going to Miami ... and I didn't ask him about that, either.
Instead, we were talking about Lewis' career with the Ravens and how Lewis resisted the temptation to join another club -- specifically, the Dallas Cowboys -- a year-and-a-half ago when he was an unrestricted free agent.
Like James, he would have made millions. Like James, he would have joined a high-profile club. Like James, he would have gone to a larger market with greater visibility. But unlike James, he didn't budge. He re-signed with the Ravens, all but guaranteeing he ends his career with them. "I was never going to Dallas," Lewis said after Friday's morning practice. "The tragedy in what men sometimes don't understand, and I'm using 'men' when I'm speaking of LeBron James, is this: Don't ever leave what God has promised you to go chase something materialistic.
"A dream? It fades. I don't care who it is. It fades. That's why you can go year after year and champion after champion after champion, but not that many people ever get to keep a legacy for a lifetime."
Lewis almost surely will. He was chosen by the Ravens in the first round of the 1996 draft and became one of the league's premier defenders, named 11 times to the Pro Bowl, twice chosen the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, named to the NFL All-Decade Team and selected the Super Bowl XXXV MVP. But he could have left following the 2008 season when all three of Baltimore's starting linebackers -- Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott -- became free agents.
As it turned out, Scott followed Rex Ryan to the New York Jets, with the Ravens retaining Suggs and Lewis -- but not before the city of Baltimore played to a nervous drama. Lewis was a free agent for nearly a week before signing a three-year contract with the Ravens.
Though some persons speculated he might leave, he said he never considered the idea ... and he thinks James shouldn't have, either.
"Your advice to him?" I asked.
"Don't you leave," said Lewis, who played college football for the University of Miami. "For what? To go do what? That's the million-dollar question. Money? Rings? Power? The power is all here [in Baltimore]. This city right here. I don't care what I ever do, this will remain my city. I could never leave.
"It doesn't matter where I go in this city, whatever ... that's power from respect; [it's] not going to be a Heat player who adds to another legacy of somebody else's. Yeah, you're going to be a great player, but, nah, for me to think about leaving here? That's why I told my owners. People are speculating about me leaving or I'm doing this, I'm doing that. I took six days out of free agency to get away from all of this."
As it turned out, he got away from nothing. He stayed where, he said, he belonged. And if you ask him ... heck, even if you don't ... he'd tell you James should have thought harder about making the same decision.