ATLANTA -- Jamal Lewis' drug conspiracy trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1, the middle of the NFL season.
The date, set Thursday by a federal court, comes between the
eighth and ninth weeks of the season, meaning that if the trial
goes on as scheduled, Lewis could miss a number of games. The
Ravens are at Philadelphia on Oct. 31, then play host to Cleveland
in a night game the following Sunday.
Lewis does not expect to miss any games.
"I feel like I can still go in and play. I know my game plan. I
know what we have going in that day," Lewis said Thursday night
after the Ravens' 24-0 preseason win over Atlanta. "It's not like
I'm going to be gone for the whole week. I'll make it my point to
get back so I can handle my job."
At this point, however, Lewis has yet to decide how to shuffle
his football career and a court case.
"I'm just finding out about it myself," he said. "I have to
check with my lawyers and see how we're going to handle it. There's
a process and I'm sure we'll come up with a plan to handle it as it
Lewis and Angelo Jackson, a childhood friend, are charged with
conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and
using a cell phone in violation of federal law. Jackson is
additionally charged with attempted cocaine possession.
Last season, Lewis became the fifth player in NFL history to
rush for more than 2,000 yards. His 2,066 yards fell short of Eric
Dickerson's record of 2,105 yards in the final game.
A college star at Tennessee, Lewis was the fifth pick overall in
the 2000 draft, and signed a six-year, $35.3 million contract with
the Ravens that summer. The alleged conspiracy happened around the
same time, but Lewis was not charged until February of this year.
Charges against Jackson resulting from an arrest in 2000 arrest
were later dismissed. The government has said it wanted to protect
its ongoing investigation and that's why it waited to bring the
Ravens coach Brian Billick has expressed doubt over Lewis'
ability to play for Baltimore during his trial, but said Thursday,
"There's some finality to it. That's great. We'll deal with it."