Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis addresses the press during a press conference in preparation for Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. / Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports
What we're hearing in New Orleans ...
â?¦ a dissenting voice on the Ray Lewis retirement tour.
It's former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer, who lost to Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV and watched former teammate Tiki Barber take over the spotlight when he announced his retirement midway through the 2006 season.
"It's definitely all about him. Once a guy goes to the center of the field, goes into the victory formation on the last play of his last home game â?¦" Toomer told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday in the Super Bowl XLVII Media Center, trailing off before completing that thought. " I just don't think the Giants or any organization I've ever been a part of, even growing up, would allow somebody to single themselves out like that.
"If you single yourself out after you make a play, that's one thing. But to walk out on the field reminds me of the WWE, like The Rock coming out. You're becoming a caricature of yourself. It's exhausting. I don't know why somebody would want that."
Lewis said Wednesday he had an "obligation" to his teammates and the city of Baltimore to "give everybody a fair chance to say their goodbyes."
Toomer said he "loves" Lewis as a player and called him a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He also realizes Lewis' retirement has served as a motivating factor for the Ravens. In fact, that's what they told Toomer, now working for NBC Sports Radio Network, during Media Day when he asked the players how Lewis' retirement affected them.
But Toomer still doesn't believe Lewis should make it all about himself and noted Lewis' pleading guilty to obstruction of justice as part of a plea agreement in regard to the double murders in Atlanta in 2000.
"If you want to say you're Mr. Religious and all of that, have a clean record. Don't say all of that stuff if you know there's stuff that might come back," Toomer said. "Those are the things that, when I look at him, I just think hypocrisy."
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Read the original story: Amani Toomer: Ray Lewis setting wrong tone for Ravens