FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 4: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore takes breather before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
After the news was first reported well before the end of his playing career, ESPN finally sent out a fancy press release telling us what we all already knew - Ray Lewis has joined the folks in Bristol as their newes NFL analyst. Lewis is the 217th NFL analyst at the network, but from the ESPN announcement, it's clear he's not going to fade into the Bristol ether like Antonio Pierce, Damien Woody, Brian Dawkins, (I can keep going) Jerry Rice, Tim Hasselbeck, Eric Allen, Eric Mangini, Tedy Bruschi, and the dozens of others at the network. Ray Lewis will get the primetime assignments straight away. In particular, a seat at the Monday Night Countdown table, a role on Sunday NFL Countdown... and his own television specials...
"Lewis will travel to the site of each week’s Monday Night Football game where he will offer analysis alongside Stuart Scott, Hall of Famer Steve Young and his former Ravens teammate Trent Dilfer during the pre-game Countdown and post-game SportsCenter. Lewis will contribute to Sunday NFL Countdown throughout the season and make a weekly appearance on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning. The 17-year NFL veteran will also have the opportunity to host specials similar to Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series. He is expected to start on August 1."
I'm a bit surprised Lewis wouldn't start straight away with ESPN, but August still gives him a month or so to get his feet wet before the season starts. The on-site Monday Countdown set makes the most sense for Lewis since that's really the only place left at ESPN that doesn't pull the "how many NFL analysts can we fit into this little clown car" type thing.
Of course the most interesting element is the television specials ESPN says is similar to Gruden's QB Camp. Does that mean Lewis will break down defensive tape? Will he show us all how to defend Spider 2 Y Banana? Behind the caricature Lewis became in this year's playoffs is a knowledgable football expert who has great potential on television. Lewis will succeed as long as ESPN doesn't trot him out to do ridiculous things like give motivational speeches. Besides, that's Herm Edwards' territory.