Ray Lewis to NFL Rookies: Be Careful

Wednesday, June 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Ray Lewis spoke at an orientation session for NFL rookies, urging them to be careful about the friends they choose and be mindful that they lead very public lives.

The Baltimore Ravens linebacker, initially charged with murder in two fatal stabbings after the Super Bowl, made an unannounced half-hour visit with 254 players Tuesday in Carlsbad, Calif., the Chicago Tribune reported.

Harold Henderson, chairman of the NFL Management Council, shared the stage and asked Lewis if he had learned a lesson.

``We have to pick and choose things we do,'' Lewis said. ``We're being watched 24 hours a day.''

The players were ``spellbound'' as Lewis answered questions, Henderson said. ``They were fighting for the microphones.''

LaVar Arrington, the No. 1 pick of the Washington Redskins, said Lewis' appearance had a ``sledgehammer effect.'' He called Lewis ``one of my heroes.''

The session was designed to help the recently drafted players handle life in the spotlight. Lewis was not listed on the schedule for the four-day symposium. He appeared under an agreement there would be no media coverage, the Tribune reported Wednesday.

The NFL told The Associated Press that the idea for Lewis to speak came from commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Murder charges against Lewis were dropped, but he pleaded guilty to lying to police in connection with the deaths in Atlanta. Two other defendants who were traveling with Lewis in his limousine were acquitted two weeks ago.

Henderson quoted Lewis as saying: ``I had a problem saying no to friends. Understand saying no to a lot of people is very important. Be firm when you say no.''

This was the fourth annual orientation session for rookies conducted by the NFL, which has faced a spate of embarrassing off-field problems.

One player asked Lewis what he planned to do now that the high-profile trial is over.

``I can try to be the greatest linebacker ever,'' he said. ``But this is always going to follow me.''