Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced on Wednesday that he'd be retiring after this season, is apparently close to joining ESPN as an NFL analyst, reports Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. Lewis is expected to be a key part of ESPN's Monday Night Countdown coverage, along with the half dozen or so other analysts that ESPN employs on Monday nights.
ESPN seemed like the best fit for Lewis, who was looking for a flexible schedule that would allow him to attend his son's games at the University of Miami in the fall. Lewis and his representatives apparently met with various networks throughout the season, perhaps indicating that retirement was on his mind well before he announced it.
Because of how many analysts ESPN employs, it'll be interesting to see how Lewis fits in. He has such a huge personality that throwing him next to guys like Tedy Bruschi, Eric Mangini, or Damien Woody won't allow Lewis to shine. Bringing in someone like Lewis is a coup for ESPN, and the network needs to give him a platform instead of just shuffling him in and out like they do with their endless parade of other analysts. ESPN can't do with Lewis what they've done with Jerry Rice, for instance, whose presence on the network is largely anonymous. For example, on Monday Night Countdown, is it really necessary to have both Steve Young and Trent Dilfer on site with Stuart Scott? Is it necessary to have both Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson in studio with Chris Berman and the rest of the crew?
I think Lewis' actual role with ESPN for the 2013 NFL season is still to be determined based on what happens with Jon Gruden and the neverending coaching rumors surrounding him. If Gruden takes a coaching job this winter, the prevailing thought is that Dilfer will slide into the commentary booth along with Mike Tirico, opening up a spot on the on-site Countdown set for Lewis. If Gruden doesn't take a job though, ESPN will need to get creative in attempting to make the most out of their newest commodity. Pairing Lewis with Ron Jaworski breaking down offensive and defensive situations could make for great television.
Whatever ends up happening with Lewis and his new role at ESPN, Bristol cannot just let him turn into another member of the endless parade of analysts. Regardless of how you feel about Lewis personally, he has an extremely strong personality, an unmatched passion for football, and has provided numerous thoughtful quotes over his time in the game. If your team signs a superstar free agent, you have to get the most out of all of his abilities. ESPN's hoping they can do just that with Ray Lewis.
Yep, that's all ESPN needs--one more commentator!! They. of course, will have to pay him, meaning our cable and satellite rates will go up once again to cover ESPN's costs!!
@nyfanhub Only if Lewis does his "yell whisper" at all times... and is contractually obligated to rant at least once per segment.
You seem not to understand that ESPN overloads their payroll with "personalities" so as to avoid any of them acquiring too much marketing power. They neither want to be forced to blow up their wage scale, nor to lose the stars whom they would make to their competitors. I would've thought that that was obvious to anybody who'd been around the industry. They're notorious for the practice; always have been.
I was surprised that it didn't hit ESPN's bottom line. Probably would have looked something like this:
ESPN plans to hire Ray Lewis as studio analyst, sources say...
@CollegeWolf I would prefer weekly cage matches, subject to injury availability.
If ray would use berman as a tackling dummy, I'd watch. He may not be trained in being a tv anylist, but he can't be any worse than mushmouth shannon sharpe.
@Chuck Schick I like Shannon Sharpe and I like his Big Bro even more. They're one musketeer shy of being the black male version of the leads in the movie "Clueless". Heck, my bisexual friends even tell me that Shannon is as good-looking as Stacey Dash.
espn has enough nfl player to be the 33rd nfl franchise.
i like ray. but as i always felt this is a problem with espn. they are quick to hire the most decorated nfl retiree without considering if they had media training or not (see emmitt smiff)
Jd4000 not quite, but they are geting there though, as ESPN has 33-34 NFL Analysts right now and only need 19-20 more NFL analysts to oficially become the 33rd NFL Franchise!
@jd4000 Your view of things needs informing. Please go to walterfootball.com and read his series of send-ups of "Emmitt on the Brink". ESPN gave the world a goldmine when they gave Walt the inspiration for his best material.
Jerry Rice, too. Being a HOFer doesn't mean you'll be a good analyst. I'm surprised that ESPN is so willing to do on-the-job training with these dudes.
Jd4000 are we talking about the same Michael Irvin who predicted that when the Seattle Seahawks were 8-5 that they would lose their last 3 games and finish the season at 8-8 and not make the NFL Playoffs this year???
Yeah, but can he actually do x's and o's and breakdown film? We all know he can do inspirational schtick, but that makes him a good interview or a good guest host on Mike and Mike. ESPN has been doing a good job of getting smarter analysts in there that can break down film. If Ray Lewis comes in and tries to pull his rah-rah bullshit, then he's just Mike Ditka with a murder charge.
@Fat Jimmy He called the league's best damn D for 17 seasons! Maybe Peyton Manning can call a better O, but I'm confident that there are few others, on the field, who are nearly his equal in such matters.
Does anyone have a link to Deitsch's SI piece that he mentions on current players that have the networks' eyes?
What a shocker. Lewis spent the last half of his career cleaning up his image to get a job like that. All these pregame shows on all the networks already have way too many analysts. Not that it matters to me, I dont watch any of them. Consistently awful.