Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

Ray Lewis murder trial articles: Interviews with mother of victim, co-defendant, and lawyer

February 3, 2013

ImageBy Mike Frandsen

I wrote two articles recently on the Ray Lewis murder trial and incident that left two people dead. I felt the story had mostly been forgotten and ignored over the last decade, although leading up to the Super Bowl there has been a lot of coverage of the story.

These types of stories are often deemed too controversial for the TV, radio, print and online media outlets that promote the NFL.

See Part 1 (http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-legacy-questions-remain-from-murder-trial-for-baltimore-ravens-star) and Part 2 (http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-former-co-defendant-speaks-on-argument-that-led-to-2-murders-2000) of the articles on Examiner.com.

Here are some highlights from the first article, Ray Lewis’ legacy: Questions remain from murder trial for Baltimore Ravens’ star.  In exclusive interviews,

  • Priscilla Lollar, the mother of slain victim Richard Lollar, says Lewis is responsible for the death of her son.
  • Reginald Oakley, one of Lewis’ co-defendants in the murder trial, says Lewis had a role in starting the argument that led to the killings.
  • Ed Garland, the lawyer who defended Lewis, says Lewis did nothing wrong after initially misleading authorities the morning after the killings.

In the second article, Ray Lewis’ former co-defendant speaks on argument that led to 2 murders in 2000, differing versions are described from court testimony, an exclusive interview with Oakley, and statements to police about:

  • The argument that led to the fight.
  • The brawl that resulted in two fatal stabbings.
  • The aftermath of the incident, including little known information about the knife found at the scene of the crime.
  • Testimony that most people don’t remember, about blood found on the pillows in Lewis’ hotel room the day after the murders.

Let’s hope for a great Super Bowl today between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. But when you hear the broadcasters and players gush about Lewis, who undoubtedly is one of the greatest players of all time and has lived a spotless life off the field in the last dozen years, don’t forget the victims and the tragedy that occurred in Atlanta 13 years ago.

To read my articles on Examiner.com, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Ray Lewis’ co-defendant in 2000 murder trial gives his version of events that led to killings

February 2, 2013

Ray Lewis Reginald Oakley

As Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis prepares to play in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, questions continue to arise about his legacy and his connection to a double murder that took place 13 years ago in Atlanta.

One of Lewis’ co-defendants in the double murder trial, Reginald Oakley, said in an interview with Examiner.com Thursday that Lewis didn’t testify about everything he knew about the fatal fight, and tried to shift suspicion onto Oakley after the killings. Still, Oakley says his only problem with Lewis is that the future Hall of Famer blamed Oakley for instigating the fight.

Excerpts from the article are below:

***

And by granting Lewis a plea bargain, Howard, who at the beginning of the trial told the court Lewis was a liar, placed himself in the position of having to prove to the jury that Lewis was credible in testifying against Oakley and Sweeting.

For example, after blood was found on pillows in Lewis’ hotel room after the killings, Howard questioned Lewis so he could provide an explanation. Lewis told the court:

“I had an injury from football that my head — usually when I play, my head gets cut open a lot of times. I have a certain type of skin on the of my head, falitivitis (sic) or something like that. I’m not sure what — exactly what it is, but it bleeds. It used to bleed a lot, and now it’s just really getting, you know, controlled now.”

Howard asked if Lewis took medication for that condition and Lewis replied, “Yes.”

Virtually everyone who testified or talked about the case described varying versions of who started the fight, what exactly happened during the melee, and what occurred in its aftermath. It didn’t help that the incident occurred shortly before 4 a.m., when many witnesses and those involved in the incident were at least partly intoxicated.

No one testified that Lewis ever possessed a knife, and Lewis never testified that he saw a knife in the hands of Oakley or Sweeting during the incident.

***

Oakley’s version of the argument that led to the fight

Oakley told Examiner.com what he said when he walked up to Lewis, who was standing across from Gwen and his friend:

I asked Ray, “Is everything alright?” and he tapped me on the shoulder and was like, “Come on, let’s go” and brings me back to the limousine. Gwen and his friend came up behind me, talking tough and I turned around and was like, “Is there a problem?” and then they started talking about what they were going to do.

I said, “You’re not going to do nothing to me, and we got into a confrontation and Ray came back and grabbed me and put me in the limo and he got back out of the limo because his friends, (Joseph) Sweeting and (Kwame) King were out of the limo talking to the guys, asking what’s going on or whatever.

Then one of the guys walked by and said something to Ray and then I saw some more guys coming up behind Ray, so I got out of the limousine to tell Ray, and that’s when Baker hit me in the head with the Moet bottle. And that’s when everybody started fighting.

***

Lewis’ version of the fight

After Baker hit Oakley with the bottle, Lewis testified that a brawl ensued:

LEWIS: It was, from that point, it was chaos, whatever, when he hit him in the head, them two just, I mean, went in a dramatic fashion of fighting.

HOWARD: Would you describe what you mean by “fighting?”

LEWIS: Fighting, I mean, you hit me, I hit you back. We just fighting. We just fighting.

***

Lewis may just happen to be a flawed person who made major mistakes in his past but has learned from them and moved on to live a better life.

That won’t be any consolation to the friends and families of the victims, though.

To read the entire article on Examiner.com, including different accounts of the argument that led to the fight, the brawl, and the aftermath, click here. See http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-former-co-defendant-speaks-on-argument-that-led-to-2-murders-2000.

Ray Lewis murder trial in news as Ravens and 49ers prepare for Super Bowl

January 26, 2013

When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis walks off the field after Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans Nov. 3, he will leave a legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.

Off the field, however, questions remain about the 13-time Pro Bowl selection, Super Bowl XXXV MVP, and future Hall of Famer despite numerous charitable works and a reputation for being an inspiration to his team.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2000 after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, two men, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, died of stab wounds after a fight with members of Lewis’ entourage outside a nightclub. Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were charged with murder.

Lewis later agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for the prosecution dropping murder charges against him. As part of the deal, Lewis testified against Oakley and Sweeting, who were subsequently acquitted of murder charges.

I did an article on Lewis’ dual legacy of being a great player and having the stain of the murder trial. I interviewed Priscilla Lollar, the mother of slain victim Richard Lollar; Oakley, and the lawyer who represented Lewis in the case, Ed Garland. Lollar holds Lewis responsible for the death of her son. Oakley said Lewis started the incident with a verbal argument, and Garland said Lewis was truthful once he made the plea bargain (after he misled authorities).

It seems to me that Lewis has gotten tons of praise and virtually no criticism in the past decade or more. It’s only now that the Ravens are in the Super Bowl that people are bringing up the trial again, which had been largely forgotten, just like the victims in the case. Lewis has carefully cultivated a persona of being a spiritual, inspirational leader, and it doesn’t hurt that he is emotional, passionate, and expressive, which is always good for TV.

Please see my article at http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-legacy-questions-remain-from-murder-trial-for-baltimore-ravens-star.

The Swami

January 24, 2010

This is an actual email I sent to a friend before the NFL season began. Go to the end to see my Super Bowl predictions.  Even though I listed four teams, I really did pick the Colts and the Saints to make it — the Eagles and Pats were just throw-ins.  I’m reprinting the email word for word, so excuse the out of context Vick stuff.

I have been wrong a lot in the past so when I’m right I have to point it out.

(And the Eagles didn’t use Vick enough).

——-

Subject: Predictions

Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2009 22:56:27 -0400

I like the move.  yes it’s a distraction, yes it’d be awkward if McNabb struggles, but Vick is a better backup than all the backups in the league, or will be by midseason, plus they can use him creatively. McNabb, Vick, Westbrook, and speedy receivers?  The Eagles just became one of the top offenses in the NFL along with the Saints and Pats.  Vick might mean an extra win or two which is all it takes.  I applaud them for having the guts to sign him and take a risk in the too conservative NFL.  you have to gamble a bit to win it all.

Super Bowl:  I like Eagles, Saints, Colts, or Pats.

Saints Escape and Favre Lets One Slip Away

January 24, 2010

A couple of comments about the Vikings – Saints NFC Championship game today:

Even though I’ve been a critic of Brett Favre, and this morning I wrote, “I still think he’ll throw a few interceptions either against the Saints later today or in the Super Bowl,” I feel badly for him.  He played pretty well today despite being hit a lot.  He did throw two interceptions including one that prevented the Vikings from going for a game-winning field goal.  It’s tough for the season to end like that for him.  Twice now in three seasons Favre threw an INT at the end of the NFC championship game.

The Saints were the beneficiaries of a bad call in overtime.  When Drew Brees threw incomplete to David Thomas and pass interference was called on Minnesota, that advanced the ball from the 41 to the 29, putting the Saints in field goal position.  Looking at the replay, it looked like Thomas tripped over his own feet and Ben Leber of the Vikings barely touched Thomas.  Even if you argue that the call was technically correct, they shouldn’t have made a call like that at the end of the game (unless there was more contact before the cameras were isolated on them).  But there were a couple of bad calls earlier against the Saints.

Still, without the call, the game was a tossup.

I was expecting the Vikings to win so I was writing that the Saints didn’t use Reggie Bush enough.  You have one of the best weapons in the NFL and he only gets seven rushes and two receptions, especially after a monster performance last week?  He should have had at least five receptions.

It’s true that Minnesota dominated time of possession and you have to credit their defense.  Bush had a fumbled punt return and a dropped pass, and had a couple of other bad plays.  But you have to use Bush.  Throw him some screen passes.

It was a bad call though for the Saints to pitch it to Bush on the 29 in overtime because that almost took them out of field goal range.  Bush results in high risk/high reward plays and he lost five yards on that one.

As for Favre, and who made out better — Green Bay who kept Aaron Rodgers instead of Favre or Favre and Minnesota — even though the Vikings had more wins than the Packers, beat them twice, had a playoff win whereas the Pack lost their first playoff game, I think both teams — the Vikings and Packers — made out equally well.  The Vikings almost made the Super Bowl and Green Bay, led by Rodgers, had a very good season and will be a contender next year and for years to come.

Anyway, it’s great to see the Saints make the Super Bowl.  It should be a great, high scoring game.

Note to NFL GMs: Winning should Matter

March 15, 2009

Last year, I wrote that Byron Leftwich wasn’t getting a fair chance to be an NFL starting quarterback, and that NFL people were concentrating too much on his deficiencies instead of his winning record (24-20) as a starter.  A lot of NFL owners, general managers and coaches prefer style over substance, and they’d rather have a player who has what they believe to be the necessities to be a good quarterback (height, arm strength, mobility, etc.) than someone who is great at winning football games. 

Another example of this – NFL people putting a higher priority on style than substance – was Doug Flutie, who if he were given a fair chance would have been a very good NFL starting quarterback for 15 years.  Still another example was Trent Dilfer, who was the starting quarterback during the 2000 season for the Baltimore Ravens who won the Super Bowl.  Dilfer was 58-53 for his career, and he didn’t play on many good teams other than the 2000 Ravens.  For that 10-1 record and Super Bowl championship, Dilfer got kicked out of the door in favor of Elvis Grbac and then Kyle Boller, the poster boy for the first round draft choice who doesn’t work out. 

(At least Boller started for a few seasons.  Top 3 overall draft picks Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf, and Akili Smith were all out of the league after a few seasons).  I guess it’s high risk/high reward, like stocks.  A good veteran quarterback (value stock) who can lead you to winning seasons is often passed over for a younger quarterback (more volatile, aggressive stock) who fits the mold but ultimately may not become a winner, but at least seems to have more potential. 

I was reminded of this oddity – how NFL teams don’t always like winners – when Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler was in the news lately.  Not because of Cutler’s anger at almost being traded, but because it made me remember that Cutler’s predecessor, Jake Plummer, went 40-18 with three playoff appearances with Denver.  Plummer was 7-4 in 2006 when he was replaced by Cutler, who lost 3 of the final 5 games of the season for the Broncos.  Denver failed to make the playoffs that year.  Ok, so you say the Broncos had to sacrifice a year for the future. 

But Cutler’s record as a starter is 17-20 with no playoff appearances.  Denver coach Mike Shanahan replaced Plummer with Cutler at the time because Plummer hadn’t played well in the playoffs, but he missed the point.  First you have to get there, and once you get there, you have an excellent chance to win it all.  The point is putting yourself in a position to win, which Plummer did.  Look at the Cardinals this year, the Giants last year, and the Steelers three years ago.  Each team barely made the playoffs but won or made it to the Super Bowl.  You have to get to the playoffs – after that, there is some luck involved.

There are two sides to every story, and Plummer did make too many mistakes, while Cutler has a very strong arm and will probably have success one day.  But at some point, production – wins – should matter.  Substance should matter over style.  Unfortunately, too often in the NFL, it doesn’t.     

Brett Favre – Greatest Player in the History of the World?

December 15, 2008

Note – I originally wrote this in July so it’s a little outdated, but I stand by it.  I’m glad Favre is doing well now though so I won’t get accused of posting this after Favre played badly.  Because, trust me, he will play badly at times later this season, most likely in the playoffs.  Actually, the Jets at 9-5 already have doubled their win total from last year, but they made a bunch of great offseason acquisitions – offensive linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, fullback Tony Richardson, and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, who has been the best defensive player in the NFL, to name a few.  Meanwhile Green Bay has lost more games than they lost all of last year, but I still think they made the right decision by starting Aaron Rogers.  I have to admit, I am a little surprised and impressed by what Favre has done this year, and if he leads the Jets to the Super Bowl, maybe I’ll change my tune.  But I still think he’s one of the most overrated players of all-time.  Just a few weeks ago, he threw a ball away in the end zone.  The commentator said, “That was a smart play.  The old Brett Favre would’ve tried to force it.”  By “old Brett Favre,” do you mean the one from the previous 17 seasons?  Now, they have him “managing the game.”

 

This Brett Favre thing is getting pretty old.  Every year he says he’s going to retire only to come back.  For someone considered such a tough guy, he sure acts like a diva.  Actually he is tough – he never misses a game.   But he has to be one of the most overrated players ever.  He’s had a great career, but it gets a little tiring to hear the John Maddens, Tony Kornheisers, and other members of the media constantly fawn over him.  Actually, if any other quarterback did the things Favre regularly does – throw off his back foot, throw into triple coverage – basically make a lot of dumb plays – He would be considered much less of a player. 

 

Favre has won slightly more playoff games than he’s lost (12-10) but he’s choked big time in several playoff games.  He threw 6 interceptions in a loss to the Rams in 2002.  The next year, Favre’s Green Bay Packers lost at home to Michael Vick’s Atlanta Falcons after being undefeated at home.  I don’t think Favre belongs in the same sentence as all-time greats Joe Montana and John Elway, and I’ll only put him on the same level as Dan Marino because Favre won a Super Bowl and Marino didn’t.  But I still think Marino was better.  I strongly believe that Steve Young was better than Favre, and it wasn’t even a contest.  Young did everything Favre did but was a much better scrambler and decision maker. 

 

Also, the idea that Favre never had great receivers is ridiculous.  Just because he didn’t have a Hall of Famer who played 10 years doesn’t mean he didn’t have a lot of talent.  Sterling Sharpe was one of the best of his era, and Antonio Freeman was very good too.  So were Robert Brooks, Andre Rison, Javon Walker, Donald Driver, and Greg Jennings.  Plus he had two great tight ends, Bubba Franks and Mark Chmura.  Finally, Favre had a great head coach in Mike Holmgren, and more offensive coaches who went on to become head coaches in the league than just about anyone else, including Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, and John Gruden. 

 

By the way, when quarterbacks such as Favre, Manning and Brady, as well as receivers such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens put up numbers that are out of this world, let’s remember that passing statistics have exploded in recent years.   I originally published the table below at http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php last January in my article advocating Art Monk to get into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Even football fans often don’t realize that not only was there a huge increase in passing stats during the second 14 years of the Super Bowl era, but that there was an even greater increase in these numbers during the past 14 years. 

                                         

NFL

1966-1979

1980-1993

1994-2007

Number of individual 4,000 – yard passing seasons

2

19

46

Number of individual 100 – catch seasons

0

3

50

Number of 1500 – yard receiving seasons

0

5

15

 

Favre will be in the Hall of Fame.  You can’t argue with his numbers.  Most TDs, most yards, most consecutive games, 7-1 record in overtime games, etc.  But he also holds the NFL record for the most interceptions at 305.  And counting.

Trent Dilfer

December 15, 2008

It seems like this blog is turning into cases in which I believe that the majority of so-called experts and fans are wrong about certain players or teams.  On the subject of quarterbacks, I think Trent Dilfer was a good, solid quarterback who never got enough credit.  He had a winning record overall (58-53).  He never played for a great team except the 2000 Ravens, and even then the team didn’t have great wide receivers.   

 

People always said the 2000 Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl despite Dilfer and because of their defense.  Unfortunately, this is a label that stuck – that Dilfer just managed the game and that anyone could have won that Super Bowl.  If the Ravens defense was so great, why couldn’t they get to another Super Bowl after they let Dilfer go, especially since every year the media says they have a great defense?  And the Ravens were 5-3 the first half of that season without Dilfer, including the last four of those games without scoring an offensive touchdown, and 10-1 including playoffs with Dilfer. 

 

Check out what the Washington Post’s Les Carpenter wrote on November 13: 

 

“Through all the winning seasons, through the playoff runs and the Super Bowl season, in which Baltimore’s defense thrived, the team perpetually lacked the one essential piece that kept it from being a dynasty.

 

It never had the right quarterback.

 

Suddenly, as the old stars start to fade away and the team builds again with a new coach, that quarterback has arrived.”

 

I love the way Carpenter puts the middle sentence on its own for emphasis.  Great.  So Joe Flacco, at 9-5, is already better than Dilfer, who went 10-1 and won a Super Bowl?  Let’s not anoint him just yet.  Sorry that 10-1 and a Super Bowl win wasn’t good enough for you.  You prefer 10-6 (the Ravens’ likely record this year) and a probable first or second round playoff exit.  I admit, what Flacco has done so far is impressive, but don’t put him ahead of Dilfer yet. 

 

As far as I’m concerned, I hope that the Ravens never win another Super Bowl.  You don’t cut your Super Bowl winning QB in favor of someone (Elvis Grbac) with better stats but less heart and lower leadership skills.  Too often, people go for style over substance.  (Thank God the Ravens finally got rid of the incredibly pompous and pretentious Brian Billick after the 2007 season).  Former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said it was a big mistake to let Dilfer go.  I’ve never understood the anti-Dilfer sentiment.  He started out his career in Tampa Bay and admittedly didn’t play great, but at least he got them to the playoffs – something that neither Steve Young nor Vinnie Testaverde could do in Tampa Bay.   

 

All I know is that none of the Ravens QBs since Dilfer have fared as well, and now they’re starting over with another first round pick.  Dilfer went from Seattle to Cleveland to San Francisco, and in each case got passed over in favor of a younger QB who wasn’t as good at the time but seemingly had more potential (Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Frye, and Alex Smith).  Only Hasselbeck turned out to be good, and I’m not so sure Dilfer couldn’t have done the same thing if given the chance in that west coast offense.


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