Remember when statues of sports icons were reserved for men of true character?
Like the one in Arizona for Pat Tillman, equal parts football idol and American hero — the real kind of hero, the one who died fighting for our freedoms.
Or the likeness of Mario Lemieux near the intersection of Centre Avenue and Washington Place right here in Pittsburgh – fastened to the ground in recognition of a man who dazzled with a hockey stick, but continues to raise loads of cash for cancer-fighting initiatives.
Or how about the statue of Jackie Robinson, inside the baseball stadium at UCLA — a baseball stadium named Jackie Robinson Stadium. No one needs reminded of the way Robinson carried himself with perpetual class, dignity and honor throughout his life.
Statues are about to get real cheap, the value of getting one about to plummet.
Ray Lewis is getting one.
Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti said last week there will, in the future, be a large-scale depiction of Lewis in Baltimore.
There’s no arguing Lewis’ prowess on a football field.
No arguing the recently-retired linebacker for the recently-crowned Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens was a force matched by few.
From sideline to sideline and from scrimmage line to pass coverage, Ray-Ray could play him some football – no one would doubt as much.
There’s also no arguing Lewis has done much for charities both in Baltimore and in his home state of Florida.
Here’s something else no one could argue — he’s a criminal.
Lewis admitted he gave a misleading statement to police on the morning after two guys were sliced up and killed in Atlanta in January of 2000. He willingly pled guilty to a crime, admitted to an obstruction of justice charge after being charged with murder.
People befitting a statue don’t do such a thing; don’t derail a double-murder investigation by offering detectives untruths.
Lewis was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, the maximum sentence for a first-time offender for such a delinquency.
That isn’t a good guy, not the type of human you immortalize in bronze; you don’t lie to the cops unless you have something to hide. Period.
When this statue does get erected, it would be interesting to know what the policemen walking past it think of such a celebratory object to that type of man.
What they really think.
Might be nice to ask a couple other people, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, what they, too, think of this statue.
That would be impossible, however.
They were the gentlemen who got carved up and died in Atlanta as Lewis and his cohorts Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting were fingered for the crime.
It should be noted no one was ever convicted of the murders.
Perhaps if Lewis had been forthcoming, the real murderers might have been caught and locked up, right?
In 2004, Lewis reached a settlement with then 4-year-old India Lollar, who was born a little while after her father was stabbed to death.
Lewis hit off the Baker family, too, off-setting a civil suit.
Wonder if India Lollar, now in her teens, thinks Ray Lewis should get a statue.
The guess here is that she’d probably prefer their lives never intertwined.
The question will undeniably come up, as it does with all statues: Which moment should be the pose in which the sculpture is cast?
Which split second of time screams loudest as a memory from Ray Lewis’ career?
I would say it should be at the murder scene of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, but we all know that Ray Lewis, um, wasn’t there.
So, this one is easy.
The statue should be of Ray Lewis lying to the Atlanta homicide detectives. That was the most indelible moment of his career.
Former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Colin Dunlap is the featured sports columnist for CBSPittsburgh.com. He can be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.”