Ray Lewis: Game's most polarizing figure

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
3:00
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- When it comes to Ray Lewis, you either love him or hate him. When the Ravens linebacker is shown on TV, you either buy into his passionate words or you want to change the channel.

ESPN.com's Elizabeth Merrill does an excellent job in showing the complicated and captivating sides of Lewis, who is playing the final game of his 17-year career in the Super Bowl.

What has surprised me the most over recent weeks is how much NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has (literally) embraced him. During Lewis' final game in Baltimore, Goodell was there to give him a bear hug during warmups. He also wants to use Lewis as an adviser when Lewis retires after Sunday's Super Bowl.

If Goodell was the commissioner 13 years ago, when Lewis pleaded guilty for obstruction of justice in a murder case, he would've given Lewis more than a $250,000 fine that Paul Tagliabue handed out. Just look at how he went after players in the bounty scandal.

"There are people who love him, and there are people who hate him," says public relations expert Mike Paul, who's known as the "Reputation Doctor." "And I think the NFL likes that.

"As long as he doesn't get in trouble today, they like that. Controversy sells. He's a controversial guy."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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