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Ray Lewis: Separating the TV Ray from the work-week Ray

COMMENTARY — Former Oklahoma State tight end Billy Bajema and ex-Oklahoma nose guard Kelly Gregg know Ray Lewis, the man, the myth, the middle linebacker. That flair for the dramatic? He “saves it up for the games.”
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 1, 2013

Lewis wants the best for his teammates, too.

After Smith broke his leg as a rookie, Lewis would check on him often.

“He would come into the training room: ‘How's it going?'” said Smith, who retired after four NFL seasons because of injuries. “He didn't have to check on a rookie, third-string tight end in the training room. But he did on almost a daily basis.

“He's one of the most unique characters I've ever met.”

Ditto, says Gregg.

He loved being on the field any time Lewis danced his way out of the tunnel. Every other defender had to wear his helmet during introductions, but not Ray.

“I'd always get a kick out of it,” Gregg said of the routine. “It was always fun to watch the crowd light up and watch other guys light up.”

It was so different, though, than the guy that Gregg saw the rest of the week. In his 13 years in the NFL, the former Edmond North High and Oklahoma Sooner standout never had a teammate who was more of a student of the game than Lewis. Even though Lewis was one of the most physically gifted players on the team, he was diligent about watching film and studying game plans.

Lewis would even invite teammates to his house for film sessions.

“You just think of him being loud all the time,” said Gregg, who retired after last season and makes his home in Edmond. “He's not like that at all. He's quiet during the week. But he definitely knows when the camera's on him.”

Gregg laughed.

“I guess he just sort of saves it up for the game.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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