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Corvus_corax

Faith and the Ravens

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My first thread on here so go easy. :P

Something that has become very apparent to me over the last few weeks is just how much of a role faith in God plays in the Ravens locker room. I have watched numerous interviews with John Harbaugh, and several of the players, over the last few weeks and it is something that has been referred to often.

Ray Lewis wears his heart on his sleeve and makes no secret of the fact that faith is part of what is driving him on. John Harbaugh made a comment recently in a press conference about this team having a faith in God(in whichever form is applicable to each individual) so it's clearly something that he openly encourages within the locker room. I guess the situations with Chuck Pagano, OJ and Ty Strong have all helped to feed into this too. When you watch people going through the ordeals that those 3 people are going through it does make you think a lot about life etc and puts the importance of a game of football into some sort of perspective.

I am a member of an UK based NFL forum and the Ravens, Ray Lewis in particular, have been attracting a fair bit of criticism for being so open about faith being a part of this team. Some of the comments about Ray Lewis have been disgusting actually.

So I was wondering how you guys felt about it. Does it in any way bother you that guys like John Harbaugh and Ray Lewis make references to this and make faith so much a part of what the Ravens are doing?



PS. I'm not looking for this thread to be a discussion on religion in general(those rarely end well), I just wanted to get an idea of how people feel about this within the context of football and the Ravens in particular.
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I love it. They're proud and thankful for the blessings in their lives and success on the field. Nothing wrong with giving praise imo
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I'm not the overly religious type, but I am spiritual and I think that matters more. It's cool that the Ravens have a spiritual side because it makes their brotherhood stronger.

But I also feel that they don't use religion or piety as a crutch on the field. They don't just assume they are the best team, and the breaks are going their way because of a higher power; but rather they feel empowered by these bonds that tie them together.

At least that's the way I see it...
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[quote name='Ravens<3' timestamp='1358753414' post='1323580']
I love it. They're proud and thankful for the blessings in their lives and success on the field. Nothing wrong with giving praise imo
[/quote]

I agree man.
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There is nothing wrong with Faith, be it in God, Supreme Being, Nature or each other. They don't shove it down your throat and are genuine about it. It seems natural with Tebow, Ray, Tucker and his sign of the cross and even the Gramatica brothers and Stover did the same thing, Some player not so comfortable or genuine. Faith is extremely personal


This discussion is fine as long as it stays into how it pertains to the team and not individuals trying to trash other faith or testifying.
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Faith is an intangible to me and whatever makes the team play better works. I try not to judge anyone or force my views onto them . we are going to the superbowl and faith has allot to do with that .
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I don't see how anybody can have a real problem with it. The only thing they could say is that it gets annoying to hear the same things over and over, but I'd counter that by saying you can just put it on the list of "One week at a time," and "60 minutes," and 53 men," etc. Speaking as an atheist, I'm envious of anybody who can find motivation so strong in any such thing. Ride it for as long as you can. If the Ravens are riding that faith all the way to the Super Bowl, I'd say don't change a thing.
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I like the faith they have. I think it makes them better. It helps them believe when they can't go on or don't want to go on.
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They say God helps those who help themselves and while I'm not religious I appreciate how this works, we don't pray for miracles we go out there and make them happen.
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[quote name='Ravens<3' timestamp='1358753414' post='1323580']
I love it. They're proud and thankful for the blessings in their lives and success on the field. Nothing wrong with giving praise imo
[/quote]
[quote name='Corvus_corax' timestamp='1358753937' post='1323592']
I agree man.
[/quote]
[quote name='Moderator 2' timestamp='1358760627' post='1323692']
There is nothing wrong with Faith, be it in God, Supreme Being, Nature or each other. They don't shove it down your throat and are genuine about it. It seems natural with Tebow, Ray, Tucker and his sign of the cross and even the Gramatica brothers and Stover did the same thing, Some player not so comfortable or genuine. Faith is extremely personal


This discussion is fine as long as it stays into how it pertains to the team and not individuals trying to trash other faith or testifying.
[/quote]

i agree with what you all said. the Ravens are rallying behind their faith and one another and it is a beautiful thing to see!

~Mili
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I like that the Ravens are not afraid to express their faith. I think it goes hand in hand with everything else that this organization believes should be qualities of its members. Maintaining strong convictions while remaining humble is very admirable and in my opinion strengthens the Team in a way that allows them to overcome deficiencies.
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[quote name='Dudeman' timestamp='1358753886' post='1323591']
[b]I'm not the overly religious type, but I am spiritual and I think that matters more.[/b] It's cool that the Ravens have a spiritual side because it makes their brotherhood stronger.
[/quote]

I agree about the spiritual part. Its working for the team. Ray's spiritiual side and faith is rubbing off on the other players and fortifying the team.

But I will say this. I am not going to just come out and say that it's awesome because then I would be a hypocrite. I've seen threads on this board lambasting Tebow for being along the same line (and I've probably taken part). God has little to do with the actual football game itself. But if the players want to accept god's will for them (win or lose) then I have no issue.

With that I apologize to Tebow.
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I think Ray or John did not cross the line of making our god; instead of, they went on referring to Faith or each individual god who has integrated these group of men together and accomplish one ultimate goal which is to win a championship. Therefore, everyone in the locker group have a special kind of instinct of believing each other to accomplish the task. I think it is a very powerful spiritual motivation that helps Ravens players overcome any obstacle. It's hard to insert the religious motivation into a group of religious diversity; however, Ray and John use it very well and carefully...
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I think the belief and faith in God in the Ravens organization is wonderful, especially since I'm a Christian, and I love seeing people wear their own faith so openly.

I will also say this, for people who might not be Christians and see it the way I do. It's not always the faith in itself; it's the approach to life that having faith reveals. Humility, appreciation, respect. Those types of attitudes and behaviors are all over the Ravens organization; from the top to the bottom. Now I think, as a Christian, that their faith plays a huge role in those philosophies. They are the way they are because of faith, most of them probably. They are a humble and appreciative organization, full of humble and appreciative players and coaches. The way they present and carry themselves reflects their beliefs. I have no doubt that after the Super Bowl, win or lose, the Ravens will still be a class act organization. They will still have humble hearts, whether they have a faith in God or not. The team reflects its leadership, and they have humble, gracious, and well spoken leaders! :)
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The Ravens believe in not just themselves but stand united as a TEAM! That plays an important part of what they have accomplished throughout the entire season. They have determination, resolve, patience and it shows. There are those that have faith in God (myself included) and I believe that it helps them become a better person. Instead of being a self-centered person, they are thinking beyond themselves and believing in something more. That is a great thing no matter how you look at it!

Faith in each other, Faith in the team, Faith in God (no matter your beliefs), Faith in the organization, and Faith in overcoming the impossible!
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I've noticed it too. It pleases me because I am a person of faith and know what that means to Ray Lewis and his teammates. You have to look at it from OJ Brigance's position. What that man is enduring with ALS is some of the worst health obstacles you can endure. Faith in the impossible is what is giving this team hope and the resiliency to keep competing. It was most apparent in the Denver game when they'd played in impossibly cold temps and had a slingfest for offense/defense. By all rights they should have lost that game. Only reason they won is because they refused to give up. They had that much faith in themselves and each other and fate to keep trying. That's what faith has meant to them.

I compared that to how Houston played against Boston the next day. Texans are down by two scores and have two minutes to go. They didn't even try to score. You could tell they'd just resigned themselves to the loss. They didn't believe in the impossible.

I am a bit surprised to hear Ray and Harbough talk about it so openly just because I know that sort of thing is ripe for mockery these days. It's not right to mock anyone for their beliefs. I didn't approve of it when Tebow was mocked either. But when one is moved by faith one doesn't care what others say.
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I absolutely do not think it is wrong that Ray Lewis speaks about his beliefs publically. It is simply his world view (answers to the questions: where we came from, why are we here, where are we going). It is well within the bounds of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Separation of church and state is not applicable here because football is nothing more than entertainment, it does not govern the livelihood of whole civilizations.

From listening to Ray Lewis talk about God, it seems that he is really reflecting on his 14 year career and he is realizing how blessed he is. It seems that it has all come in perspective to him. He is not shoving his beliefs down anyone's throats, he just saying what is on his mind and on his heart, not holding anything back. He may even think it is God's will that the Ravens win the Superbowl. It doesn't mean that God is directly interceding "Angels in the Outfield" style, or that God even cares about football, no one knows the mind of God, it is all speculation, it means that God has blessed him and his teammates with gifts to be in the position they are in. To me, Ray is just saying that he is thankful for that.

For the people who think it is ironic that Ray Lewis was charged with murder and now is "God's best friend", there is such thing as forgiveness. In my opinion, no one is in a position to judge. Everyone does wrong. There is nothing you can do or say in this world that God can't forgive if you truly repent and change. To me, after that dark period of his life, Ray Lewis has demonstrated through his actions and words that he has changed for the better.
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I'm atheist. When someone starts off on a god-rant, I tune-out, including athletes...someone's faith doesn't affect me at all...If it works for them, then great. I tend to believe that skill and preparation has more to do with game-outcomes rather than one's faith.
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[quote name='Uncle Dready' timestamp='1358806981' post='1324745']
I'm atheist. When someone starts off on a god-rant, I tune-out, including athletes...someone's faith doesn't affect me at all...If it works for them, then great. I tend to believe that skill and preparation has more to do with game-outcomes rather than one's faith.
[/quote]

Completely agree.

[size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Used rationally, religion can be a great way to motivate the message hope, instead of despair and sorrow. Take last year's AFC championship game as the prime example of this, the belief that a higher being "controls" everything and that our fates have already been determined led to a humble end to the Ravens' season. Without the message that Ray's brought to the locker room, we may have acted like a Belichick or a Wes Welker's wife. Now, r[color=#333333]eligion can bring hope to everyone; they can use something to believe in and to help them through the dark times in life. People often fear the unknown and questions the future - the greatest unknown. However, the most simple answer is that it was a higher being's "will" or "plan," that this higher being has a plan for everyone and everything happens for a reason. Since this belief system - let's call it faith - gives people hope, optimism of a better life, and a shinning light at the end of a dark tunnel, the Ravens have used it to their advantage in times of losses, injuries, and missed opportunities throughout the end of last season until now. Using biblical verses as a forum to communicate to fellow teammates has worked for Ray and rest of the pious Ravens, especially if they are truly faithful - that their higher being will provide them a boost on Sundays.[/color][/font][/size]


[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][size=4]To answer your question, no it doesn't bother me as long as religion is a positive aspect of their lives and, in some cases, provides them hope in rough times... although I hope Ray doesn't turn into the Tebow level of religious. In other words, keep your faith off camera as much as possible, Ray.. it's getting a bit too much.[/size][/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif][size=4][color=#333333]Before I offend anyone anymore, I'll step off my one inch podium.[/color][/size][/font]
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..Having lived through Tebow-mania last season here in CO I can attest to the levels of instensity this topic can cultivate....
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It is refeshing to see a professional athlete publicly witness to his faith whether it be Tim Tebow or Ray Lewis. Anyone can question someone else's motivations but I do not question Ray's or Tim's. I know they are both profoundly sincere in their belief system. If you do not believe that God can affect the outcome of a battle, just look up the true story of David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah at 1 Samuel 17: 32 in the bible. Ray's life has been turned around by his faith and it is evident. It can be difficult to understand for someone who is not a Christian but it is as real as rain. Ray has learned not to take life for granted. For anyone who does not know what faith is, look up Hebrews 11: 1 in the bible. One of the more poignant stories I heard while viewing the game last night was that Muhammed Ali expressed his faith in the Ravens by telephoning them before the game. Keep it up, Ray, and never lose sight of the ultimate prize which is heaven, not the Super Bowl.

As a footnote, I led a bible study in church on Sunday and I prayed for our beloved Ravens. Yes, there were God fearing men on both teams of last night's game but that does not mean that God does not stand behind those who publicly proclaim his name. God uses ordinary people like Ray Lewis to accomplish extraordinary things and with His help impossible things become possible as Ray knows (see Philippians 4:13). Godspeed to the Ravens and to Ray and, if God wills it, win the Super Bowl!!!! He has already given our players the strength, endurance and will to do it.
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[quote name='frozen joe flacco fan' timestamp='1358816158' post='1324975']
It is refeshing to see a professional athlete publicly witness to his faith whether it be Tim Tebow or Ray Lewis. Anyone can question someone else's motivations but I do not question Ray's or Tim's. I know they are both profoundly sincere in their belief system. If you do not believe that God can affect the outcome of a battle, just look up the true story of David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah at 1 Samuel 17: 32 in the bible. Ray's life has been turned around by his faith and it is evident. It can be difficult to understand for someone who is not a Christian but it is as real as rain. Ray has learned not to take life for granted. For anyone who does not know what faith is, look up Hebrews 11: 1 in the bible. One of the more poignant stories I heard while viewing the game last night was that Muhammed Ali expressed his faith in the Ravens by telephoning them before the game. Keep it up, Ray, and never lose sight of the ultimate prize which is heaven, not the Super Bowl.

As a footnote, I led a bible study in church on Sunday and I prayed for our beloved Ravens. Yes, there were God fearing men on both teams of last night's game but that does not mean that God does not stand behind those who publicly proclaim his name. God uses ordinary people like Ray Lewis to accomplish extraordinary things and with His help impossible things become possible as Ray knows (see Philippians 4:13). Godspeed to the Ravens and to Ray and, if God wills it, win the Super Bowl!!!! He has already given our players the strength, endurance and will to do it.
[/quote]

I agree that it is refreshing. I normally do not comment on religion in open forums like this, but I felt compelled to. One thing we all have to look at, is the road Lewis has walked to this point. From his murder charges, and enduring everything that accompanies that as an "innocent man", but yet his faith did not waiver, and traveling to visiting stadiums for years to come, and come face to face with unimaginable vulgarities and personal attacks. Through years and years of a team without an offense that would give some assistance, but yet his passion drove him to be iconic, and polarizing. But not only polarizing on the football field, but polarizing in the lives of many of his followers who believe in him, and fellow teammates and players across the entire NFL who turn to him for guidance. Iconic as a man.. on and off the football field.
If there is fans other than myself, who feel what I feel, then you know and understand what Ray Lewis and his beliefs, and his perspective on life, and his appreciation of situations and opportunities.. to uplift people around him, including myself, In some of the toughest times in my life. Ray is a vessel, an extremely talented football player, will go down as one of the greatest ever, but an even more extraordinary man.
His messages, his outlook, his vision, his drive and passion, his faith, are all passed on to the ones around him. A faith that "God makes no mistakes", that we need to understand who we are as "men". This is a story of faith, that through all trials and tribulations, through every stepping stone in life, those times mold us into the person we are supposed to become. So that we may show a greater appreciation for health:, (OJ dealing with ALS, the young boy dealing with cancer), life: (having this opportunity) on this stage, to share a message that may help someone get through one of their toughest times in life, family: (Torrey's little bro, and I believe Mcphee had some deaths in his family as well).
I am a firm believer, that this story is already written, and that it will be his will. His message will be revealed, and it will touch many lives, who have been a fan of Ray's, will touch many lives who may have always disliked Lewis, or thought of him as a murdered, will touch the lives of New Orleans residents, who still may be dealing with trials and tribulations in their lives.. and great personal losses. I think its wonderful, that we have some athletes (in our case, one who when he talks... everyone listens, and coaches, who are not afraid to speak about what they believe in.. it just may change someones life who needs changing.
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[quote name='BallHawker' timestamp='1358811958' post='1324880']
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]To answer your question, no it doesn't bother me as long as religion is a positive aspect of their lives and, in some cases, provides them hope in rough times... although I hope Ray doesn't turn into the Tebow level of religious. In other words, keep your faith off camera as much as possible, Ray.. it's getting a bit too much.[/font]

[/quote]
I'm inclined to agree here. Last year I wrote a column article about sports players expressing religious beliefs, and my thing is that provided they keep it a personal thing, I don't have an issue with it. Justin Tucker crossing himself and all that as part of his warmup is a great example of what I mean, but there are plenty of examples in other sports. Kaka had an undershirt that read "God is good" that he'd show after he scored, and a favourite example of mine is a rugby player called Chester Williams. He was a devout Christian who used to pray a fair bit, but never did so for the cameras - every now and again you'd see him looking to the sky with his eyes closed and no-one ever made a big deal out of it.

Personally, I'm getting a bit sick of hearing about God's plan for Ray Lewis and how we only won because of his will. This is supposed to be the same God that's created the universe, watched entire civilisations rise and fall and allows all kinds of suffering in the world. Do you care about Super Bowl XIV? If he exists, I just don't see why God cares about this one more than any other. Millions of people pray every day to get out of poverty, but God cares more about Ray Lewis getting one last SB ring before he retires? Sorry, but I don't buy that and exceptionalism like that kinda sinks my battleship.

For someone like Chester Williams, it's a personal ritual that I don't think is any different to kissing a photo of your kid in the lockerroom before a game. Talking about your beliefs with the media is fine, but I think Ray's really beginning to overdo it and some of his post-game interviews are getting pretty preachy.

[b]That said[/b], there are positives as others have said. If it helped the team better find peace after last year, that's great. And if it gives them more confidence and inspiration to play well every week, that's great too. They don't seem to think God will provide everything for them, which means they have to go out and get wins themselves and that's an attitude I love. Our own Terrell Suggs said last year that we can win without God. I also think it's great that Ray's been able to turn his life around after getting involved with the murders (whether he did it or not isn't the point here) and if God's been a big part of that, I can't really complain.

I'm also interested to see how people who don't share the majority beliefs in the lockerroom are treated or even if they feel they can be open about them. I remember a John Harbaugh presser in which he said the players have different opinions on almost everything and that's cool as long as everyone respects everyone else, so if that's the case it's not really my place to talk about what works off the pitch.

All in all, it's really a complex balancing act and that perfect balance will always be subjective. Personally I think Ray's started erring on the side of being kinda pushy with his beliefs but there'll be others who think he could stand to make a bigger deal out of everything.
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[quote name='Grendelwulf21' timestamp='1358820466' post='1325086']
I love that they talk freely about it, if people don't like it, they don't have to listen to it, end of story
[/quote]
I don't think it's that simple. On another thread, someone brought up how great the next two weeks will be for us because the media networks will be celebrating what both sides have done and I really want to enjoy that with the other Ravens fans around the world. But like I just said, when Ray Lewis talks about how God willed the Ravens win and it gets put in with that celebration, you can't really switch it off.

ED: Anyway, I'm done here. This kind of topic can get really heated and I don't want to contribute to spoiling the great feeling of our SB run. We've all got too much in common to be split by a very personal topic like this. It felt really good to have expressed my opinion (especially since it sometimes feels like there's a pretty solid religious majority here so it can feel like one side gets a lot more exposure whether right or wrong), and while I tried to keep my thoughts respectful I do apologise if I've offended anyone.
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Brian Dawkins, Deion Sanders, Reggie White .. all three of those legends are a few more examples of those that publicly showed and expressed their faith.. Ravens are not the first
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Psalms 109:8 reads some pretty bad stuff...its only a book...read it and then think for yourselves.
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...Just more athlete-babble when they are given the spotlight...they might as well be talking about Amway or Mary Kay pyramid schemes....just babble...listen if you want or watch the highlites of the game...
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[quote name='Inqui' timestamp='1358822074' post='1325129']
I don't think it's that simple. On another thread, someone brought up how great the next two weeks will be for us because the media networks will be celebrating what both sides have done and I really want to enjoy that with the other Ravens fans around the world. But like I just said, when Ray Lewis talks about how God willed the Ravens win and it gets put in with that celebration, you can't really switch it off.

ED: Anyway, I'm done here. This kind of topic can get really heated and I don't want to contribute to spoiling the great feeling of our SB run. It felt really good to have expressed my opinion (especially since it sometimes feels like there's a pretty solid religious majority here so it can feel like one side gets a lot more exposure whether right or wrong), and while I tried to keep it respectful I apologise if I've offended anyone.
[/quote]
Don't apologize if you say what you believe man, it's okay :) it's just freedom,[size=4] it's okay to believe or not to believe, if you think it helps you in whatever way then good, they're free to express their beliefs, if people get mad about it, then ... well.. there isn't anything they can do about it, so why even complain? I have Atheist friends and they talk about certain stuff sometimes but I just ignore it because I respect their decision to do and believe whatever they want.. So all in all just gotta respect what they believe and be glad that we all have the freedom to do that[/size]
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