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Disney, Wheaties among those passing on MVP Lewis
Posted: Wednesday January 31, 2001 11:17 PM
Ray Lewis isn't cashing in on his MVP award with post-Super Bowl endorsements. Andy Lyons/Allsport
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player won't be going to Disney World and his face won't be on the cover of the next Wheaties box.
Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens' star linebacker linked to a double-killing last year, was shut out of the traditional post-Super Bowl endorsements after his team beat the New York Giants on Sunday.
Instead, it was Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer who shouted, "I'm going to Disney World!" And General Mills chose tight end Shannon Sharpe and four other Ravens to appear on a commemorative Wheaties box.
|Lewis arrives for Pro Bowl|
|HONOLULU (AP) -- Away from the crowd, Ray Lewis went through his first Pro Bowl practice Wednesday after exchanging congratulatory hugs with several AFC teammates.
The Ravens linebacker arrived a day late, choosing instead to join his teammates for Baltimore's parade of Super Bowl champions.
"It was wild, man. I've never seen anything like it," Lewis said, reflecting on winning the NFL title and the days leading up to it. "That's a feeling you have to experience for yourself."
Lewis, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was the Super Bowl's MVP in the Ravens' 34-7 triumph against the New York Giants in Tampa, Fla.
Last year, things weren't quite so rosy.
Lewis was supposed to be at the Pro Bowl, but instead was in an Atlanta jail after being linked to a double-killing in the hours following the Super Bowl. He was eventually cleared before pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. He was later fined $250,000 by the NFL and placed on probation.
Asked if he thought last week's media coverage was unfair, he replied: "It didn't matter, I didn't care about that. My eye was on a prize way bigger than the media."
Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George, one of Lewis' friends, said the media was "something he's going to have to deal with, unfortunately."
"He's handled it in a professional manner. He knew what he was down there for and he got the job done," George said.
Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said Lewis was a "good guy, fun-loving."
"You can tell how much he loves the game," Ogden said.
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"We look for a great story, and Trent Dilfer offered us that story," Disney spokesman Craig Dezern said Monday.
Golden Valley, Minn.-based General Mills Inc., which manufactures Wheaties, said in a statement, "The five players who appear on the Ravens' Wheaties box represent the entire team and reflect its historic accomplishments this season."
Industry analysts say that Lewis' marketability has been tarnished by his connection to the fatal double-stabbing after last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Lewis eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice and was fined $250,000 by the NFL. No one has been convicted for the stabbings.
"Whatever the result of the trial, to have someone who is close enough to a double-murder as recently as last year is not the kind of spokesman that corporate America wants to have represent them right now," said Sean Brenner, managing editor of the Chicago-based IEG Sponsorship sports marketing newsletter.
Disney traditionally has asked the Super Bowl MVP the "What's next?" question and featured that player in a parade the next day.
This was the fourth time in the ad's 15-year run that the MVP did not ride in the parade.
Neither company would comment on its selection process and Disney declined to discuss whether the company had considered Lewis. But a spokesman said Dilfer was picked because the game played in Tampa, Fla., capped a comeback from his release by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.
Lewis shrugged off the apparent Disney snub after the game.
"I wasn't going there anyway," he said. "I have kids who were not going to let me go to Disney World. They wanted to see me."