Former NFL All Pro and now ESPN analyst Ray Lewis joined the Stephen A. Smith Show on Monday and the Kam Chancellor holdout was a major topic. Lewis had some strong words on Chancellor's position, and I think it's interesting because Lewis and Chancellor communicate regularly. I believe Lewis is a guy that Chancellor has looked up to as a player, because Lewis was the Ravens' emotional leader and defensive tone-setter.
Listen in to the interview (starts at 8:30):
A few notes from Ray Lewis:
"I can only speak from experience itself, but there's one thing that I thought would be way bigger than money. And let me make this clear, I love Kam Chancellor. Do I think he should be paid? Absolutely. I'm always for the players when it comes to that. But I am also for the players when it comes to the other side too.
"I would never leave my brothers in battle. Never. Not over money. Money can't have people sitting around their Thanksgiving tables talking about me. Money can't have me in that game yesterday against the Rams knowing I can make a difference. I'm sitting there letting my boys out there run... man listen, I understand that the point is money, don't get me wrong, but when you have to choose from brotherhood and money.
"And he'll tell you, no one will call him about that. Cause listen, the business is a business, absolutely, and he deserves his money, he demands his money. I understand that. But at what price? As a teammate. As a brother. And all his boys are going to back him, they're going to say, 'That man should get his money.' And they're absolutely correct. But at what price, Stephen A! At what price, bro?
"Every contract negotiation I ever had in my life, there's one thing I always told my agent: Don't ever put me in a position where I have to choose between that decision and me being on the field. Because I'm being on the field, every day. I ain't missing no plays. I ain't missing no days. I ain't missing no battles. I ain't missing no wars. That's why you play. Money is a byproduct of it.
Lewis went on...
"I talk to him a lot. He's one of the ones that I love to be in his life, because he's so humble, he's so awesome of a kid, he's so awesome of a man, and he plays the game the right way. And he deserves his money. But I always say, to all of the guys, and you've heard me say this all the time, there's just certain things. Me, personally: I wouldn't leave my boys to go into battle without me. Money ain't never been that important to me, not when it came to the game. Not when it came to me strapping up my shoulder pads knowing that every time I went out there, it could be my last — hey, so I get it, but I was willing to let my brothers decide that. Lew ain't never miss a practice, Lew ain't never held out, Lew ain't never worried about no contract dispute in Ravens' history. There are certain things that come with my credibility."
Lewis and Smith talk briefly about the $900,000 gulf that's been reported between the two sides, and Lewis notes that in the real world, that's really more like $450,000 after taxes, which isn't a whole lot in NFL standards.
"That's what I would tell him: Understand it, bro. Understand the whole thing. See it. If $900,000 is the argument? Don't make that be the deciding factor for why you're not with your teammates. Because they needed him. Bad.
"I would advise him to figure it out. Money is the root of all evil. We don't have time to be worrying about ruining legacies because of money."
Interesting stuff from Lewis. Will his words make an impact on Chancellor and spur any change? Likely not, but Lewis is one of the few players we've seen speak so harshly against Chancellor's position.