If you know anything about the Baltimore Ravens, then you probably know something about the complex legacy left behind by retired linebacker Ray Lewis, a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer. When it came to his religious beliefs, Lewis was loud and proud to the point of driving some fans a bit nuts. I think there were some local and national journalists who were tired of his God's linebacker sermons, as well.
Anyway, Lewis has retired and one of the big stories going into the upcoming NFL season is who will try to take his place, both on the field and in the locker room. One of the team's top draft picks was Kansas State University linebacker Arthur Brown, who is often described as soft-spoken. A recent piece by The Baltimore Sun also suggested that it's impossible to understand what makes this young man tick without knowing something about his -- wait for it -- spiritual side.
Once again, the sort-of-God card was right there in the lede:
The uplifting sounds of gospel music provide Ravens rookie inside linebacker Arthur Brown a release from the grind of football.
The second-round draft pick from Kansas State is bespectacled and soft-spoken, cultivating a professorial look off the field as he frequently wears a tie, slacks and dress shoes. During his spare time, the 23-year-old can be found playing the piano or whipping up his favorite meal of salmon and sweet potatoes.
Brown's personality away from the game, though, is a contrast to his aggressive nature on the field.
"If you don't know Arthur and see him on the field, you would think he's an absolute maniac," said Ravens rookie outside linebacker Meshak Williams, Brown's former Kansas State teammate. "Arthur is a good person, very spiritual and one of the best friends I ever had. When he plays football, he just changes his personality. He flies around and brings an intensity to the whole defense."
So this young man is going to play gospel music in the locker room? Or he plays it at home? Also, note the suggestion that his piano skills allow him to perform as well as to listen. There's more to this young man than a set of colorful headphones, in other words.
And, once again, remember that we are talking about the man who is trying -- on multiple levels -- to step into the shoes of Ray Lewis.
So it's going to be pretty important for this story to nail down some actual facts about his religious beliefs, as opposed to settling for vague generalities. Right?
Guess again. I think it is safe to say, at this point, that the Sun team is actively attempting to avoid asking specific questions about the role that religious faith may or may not be playing in who makes this Ravens team and who gets cut, who is drafted with leadership in mind and which players are sent packing.
The Brown feature includes absolutely nothing when it comes to factual information about the role religion plays in his life. All readers get is hints and one very suggestive quote:
As much as Brown expresses his love for football, where he embraces contact and delivers punishing hits, he has found a way to strike a balance between the sport and other parts of his life.
"I love music and I love to sing out loud," Brown said. "Really just speaking to gospel, it's the content of what's being spoken. It's all about my faith. It gives me inspiration, it gives me peace." ...
So it's not just the gospel music that matters. It's the actual content of the music that matters to this guy. It's the Gospel, in other words, not just gospel music.
Later on, there is another hard-to-miss suggestion that this young man's faith is connected to the practical details of his life. In college, he played for the Miami Hurricanes (like Lewis), but then transferred back closer to home. Why?
"The choice to transfer was spearheaded by his father," said Brian Butler, the Brown brothers' longtime mentor and personal coach. "Sometimes in college, if you're an out-of-state player and they have strong in-state players, you can get caught up in politics. It was hard to get Arthur to leave Miami because Arthur's not a quitter.
"It wasn't just about football. It was much different for him socially. He was used to growing up with people with the same set of values and habits. Miami is a very fast-paced place."
So his family's "values and habits" didn't fit the whole Miami scene? What does that mean?
If you're looking for answers to these kinds of questions, a few facts to flesh out the hints, then you are reading the wrong newspaper.