Lewis, as it happens, will have a sizable platform from which to castigate or inspire the concussed and the folded and spindled. He reportedly is already ticketed for ESPN’s Monday Night Football’s shoulder programming, taking part in the pre- and post-game repartee. His on-air colleagues should be pumped up for telecasts as never before (one wonders if Lewis will do his patented “squirrel dance” on the set), but his mere presence on national television will only serve as a reminder of the rewards of the warrior mentality (as though the litany of national television ads and hagiographical features on Lewis over the years didn’t pound home that point enough).

Remember that when the next player gets “jacked up,” to use ESPN’s bygone phraseology for being rendered hors de combat. When the time comes to make a decision about going back into the fray, will the player be thinking about Junior Seau, or Ray Lewis? My money’s on Ray Ray.


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Robert Weintraub is the author of The House That Ruth Built. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Slate, and a television writer/producer based in Atlanta.