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In his corner

Sharpe critical of media's blitz against Lewis

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Posted: Wednesday January 24, 2001 11:56 PM

  Robert Bailey, Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe Robert Bailey (left) and Shannon Sharpe (right) admire Ray Lewis' AFC Champions T-shirt. AP

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The interviews were going just the way Ray Lewis likes them Wednesday -- all football, all the time -- when an unexpected source threw him a curve.

As the Baltimore Ravens' linebacker sat at the podium, teammate Shannon Sharpe came up behind him, wrapped his arms around Lewis' shoulders and gave an unsolicited, impassioned speech in defense of the embattled star linebacker.

"I wish you all could know this guy personally and look at him in a different light than the media has exploited him to be," Sharpe said. "He admitted he made a mistake. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I said this before and I'll say it 1,000 times. If he had not been Ray Lewis, if he had not been an All-Pro player, Ray Lewis would have never, ever been implicated."

Sharpe was just getting going. His speech took almost two uninterrupted, frenetic minutes. Lewis sat placidly the entire time.

The Ravens' linebacker was present during the double-murder outside an Atlanta night club after the Super Bowl last year. He was charged with murder, but ended up pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

Sharpe wishes Lewis got as much attention for being the NFL's defensive player of the year as he does for the night in Atlanta.

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"That's all he asks," Sharpe said. "Give him a fair statement. But we can't get any of that. They ran it over and over and over and over again about the orange coveralls on TV. The man couldn't comb his hair in shackles and leg irons. Give him the same kind of press about being defensive player of the year."

The tight end asked reporters to "imagine if someone was going to take your life away from you."

Sharpe claimed police were too quick to charge Lewis.

"Ted Bundy killed something like 30 people and it took them a long time to charge him," Sharpe said. "Ray Lewis wasn't even involved with this and he was charged in 24 hours. Whether or not they felt he did it, they had Ray Lewis. They thought to themselves, if we don't have anybody else, we have Ray Lewis."

When Sharpe stepped off the podium, he immediately began yet another round of interviews.

Lewis appeared taken aback when the monologue ended. He said he appreciated Sharpe's outspoken gesture.

"That's kind of special," Lewis said. "Regardless of what you can say about Shannon Sharpe, he's going to speak from the heart. To have a guy like that around your back, it's great. There's no feeling like that."

Related information
Glance: Stopping Shannon Sharpe's From the Newsstand: Jan. 24 edition
SI's Peter King: Most NFL teams have a Super chance
Listen Up!: The latest talk from Tampa
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