Two-time Super Bowl champion linebacker Ray Lewis joined NFL running-back greats Jim Brown and Curtis Martin for a meeting with President-Elect Donald Trump this week. The group discussed improving the conditions of life and the prospects for success within the inner cities, supporting Brown’s long work with youth in Los Angeles and Cleveland as part of the Amer-I-Can program.
This was Trump’s first real meeting with a group of this magnitude within the black community since imploring black and minority voters, “What do you have to lose?” Lewis made the media rounds after the meeting, including a sit-down with Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports Radio on FS1.
Unlike a lot of pundits that don’t believe Trump sees anything beyond building his own personal brand using whatever tools necessary, Lewis dropped a bomb early when Cowherd asked if he was aware of his divisiveness.
“After 10 minutes, their cabinet…agreed that we had the vehicle. And you hear all these reports, ‘They turned their backs on the black community’, it’s the most embarrassing thing. I always tell people, there is no ‘they’…they is you, they is me. There is nobody gonna get it done, and so when you hear people talk about, ‘I will never go in the White House and I will never meet Trump.’ Well guess what, maybe you don’t feel the same way about your kids the way I feel about my kids. Cause I want my kids to be damn safer.”
Lewis called Trump a pure businessman, a good listener, and actionable. Even after the actual meeting, the likely Hall of Famer spoke in the Trump Tower lobby and praised Trump’s proposed actions.
The media reaction ranged from praiseworthy in conservative circles to accusations of selling out from the left. On ESPN’s show First Take, Max Kellerman suggested that among other things, these athletes gave a “bad look” by visiting the President-elect. Stephen A. Smith, who once said he wished all black voters would switch their ballots to Republican for one election so both parties would get the message they need to serve all their constituents, disagreed with Kellerman, offering up Brown’s accomplishments of offering turnaround programs to gang members and forming black economic unions.
Smith’s point was simply that this was no sell-out — basically echoing Lewis’s point to Cowherd: “Charity never compares to change.”
This is not the first time Ray Lewis has gone against the media and black America narrative. In April, he posted a viral video on his Facebook page criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement for not addressing black-on-black murder. Lewis retired from the NFL after the 2012 season, completing 17 seasons in the league, all with the Baltimore Ravens.
You can watch Lewis’s interview on FS1 here: