ESPN: We considered Ray Lewis' history before hire

ESPN: We considered Ray Lewis' history before hire
February 21, 2013, 9:30 am
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ESPN has yet to officially announce that Ray Lewis is joining the network’s NFL commentary lineup, but ESPN president John Skipper this week talked about the newly retired Raven’s hiring with, which first reported the move last month. Skipper addressed the issue of considering Lewis’ 2000 obstruction-of-justice conviction before deciding to add him.

"We had an opportunity last fall to get Ray, and we debated internally some of the history," Skipper said. "Obviously, we decided we were comfortable with it. We must have because we did it. I will tell you we did remind ourselves of some of the issues. We sort of decided that the NFL welcomed him back into the fold and the fans welcomed him back into the fold. I think we are fine with second chances and we think he will make great television. Ultimately, we were comfortable with it."

It will be interesting to see viewers’ reaction to Lewis, who remains a controversial figure outside of Baltimore. Those inclined to dislike him — not just for his history, but also for his front-and-center declarations of faith in most interviews — may not so much listen to what he has to say about the NFL  as reach for the remote each time he speaks. But if he fits in well with ESPN’s other 2,474 retired players commenting on the league, those visceral reactions will dissipate over time.

Lewis’ main role will be as part of “Monday Night Countdown,” along with appearances on ESPN’s Sunday NFL programming, said. The network also will accommodate his desire to attend his son’s football games for the University of Miami, where Ray Lewis III will be a freshman this fall.