Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

Ray Lewis’ former co-defendant Reginald Oakley on argument that led to 2 murders in 2000

February 2, 2013

Ray Lewis Reginald OakleyAs Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis prepares to play in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, questions continue to arise about his legacy and his connection to a double murder that took place 13 years ago in Atlanta.

One of Lewis’ co-defendants in the double murder trial, Reginald Oakley, said in an interview with Thursday that Lewis didn’t testify about everything he knew about the fatal fight, and tried to shift suspicion onto Oakley after the killings. Still, Oakley says his only problem with Lewis is that the future Hall of Famer blamed Oakley for instigating the fight.

On January 31, 2000, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker were stabbed to death during a fight in the early morning hours after Super Bowl XXXIV. The killings occurred after an argument between at least one person from the victims’ group of friends and at least one member of Lewis’ entourage.

Lewis and friends Oakley and Joseph Sweeting were indicted on murder charges 11 days after the killings. Later, after multiple witnesses changed their testimony from what they originally told police, the prosecution made a deal with Lewis, dropping the murder charges against him in exchange for testifying against Oakley and Sweeting. However, both men were acquitted after Lewis’ testimony.

Only Lewis was convicted of anything – obstruction of justice – for initially lying to authorities and withholding information. Lewis was placed on a year of probation by the court and fined $250,000 by the NFL. He later paid settlements to family members of both Lollar and Baker.

Lollar and Baker had moved from Akron, Ohio to Atlanta to look for a better life. Several of their friends from Ohio were leaving the Cobalt Lounge around the same time Lewis and his friends walked out of the club.

According to a CNN transcript of court testimony, Lewis admitted telling his friends and the limousine driver to “Keep your mouth shut” as the limo drove away from the scene of the crime. Lewis was concerned about the incident impacting his football career.

Lewis gave a false statement to police, denying knowing the people in his limousine, which sped away after the fight. Lewis also withheld information that some of the people in his limousine were involved in the brawl.

Lewis, who was named MVP of the Super Bowl one year after the killings, became an NFL icon during his 17-year career. The future Hall of Famer is surely the most famous defensive player in the league. He is celebrated by players, fans and media for his football ability and unabashedly emotional personality.

Though Lewis is portrayed and perceived as a mythic hero figure by many, others believe his career is tarnished for his role in what happened 13 years ago.

To read the rest of my article on, including an exclusive interview with Lewis’ former co-defendant Reginald Oakley, click here. The article goes into different versions of what happened to start the fight, the brutal melee, and what happened after the limousine sped away:

Once again, sorry for including Ravens information on my Redskins blog. It won’t happen again!

Is Ray Lewis’ legacy tarnished because of his role in covering up murders 13 years ago?

February 2, 2013

Ray Lewis Reginald OakleyWhen Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis walks off the field after Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans Feb. 3, he will leave a legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.

Off the field, however, questions remain about the 13-time Pro Bowl selection, Super Bowl XXXV MVP, and future Hall of Famer despite numerous charitable works and a reputation for being an inspiration to his team.

Two Murders, No Convictions

In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2000 after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, two men, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, died of stab wounds after a fight with members of Lewis’ entourage outside a nightclub. Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were charged with murder.

Lewis later agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for the prosecution dropping murder charges against him. As part of the deal, Lewis testified against Oakley and Sweeting, who were subsequently acquitted of murder charges.

Lewis and a group of friends had been celebrating at a nightclub in Atlanta after the Super Bowl between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans.

In interviews during the past week with, three people with close ties to the case gave varying accounts of Lewis, the incident, and its aftermath.

Lewis’ lawyer during the trial, Ed Garland, says Lewis was 100 percent innocent of any criminal acts relating to the deaths, should have never been charged, and has handled himself impeccably since the trial.

Oakley, 44, who was charged and acquitted in the murders, says he’s ok with Lewis except for the fact that Lewis testified that Oakley started the melee. Oakley said the fight started after an argument between Lewis and someone from the other group.

And Priscilla Lollar, the mother of Richard Lollar, who lost his life that night, says Lewis is responsible for the death of her son.

Lewis could not be reached for comment for this article.

Lewis lied to police the morning after the murders. He denied knowing the people in his limousine, which sped away after the fight. Lewis also withheld information that some of people in his limousine were involved in the brawl. Lewis also told friends to “Keep your mouth shut” about the incident.

Investigators and prosecutors bungled the case, failing to interview all the witnesses after the incident, while multiple witnesses changed their stories from what they initially told police to what they ultimately testified about on the stand. No one was convicted in the murders.

One of those witnesses whose story changed at least once from the time he was interviewed by investigators to the time he testified in court was limousine driver Duane Fassett. Click here to view a brief video of his testimony.

After the trial, Lewis, who was in the middle of a four-year, $26 million contract, was placed on probation for a year and fined $250,000 by the NFL. Lewis went from facing a possible life sentence in prison to being named MVP of Super Bowl XXXV a year later when the Ravens defeated the New York Giants, 34-7.

Lewis would later pay settlements to Baker’s grandmother and Lollar’s fiancée.

Ray Lewis: Hero or Something Else?

Since the trial, Lewis has become a model citizen. The Ray Lewis Family Foundation provides assistance to disadvantaged youth and families. Baltimore renamed the street on which Lewis annually gives turkeys away on Thanksgiving “Ray Lewis Way.”

Lewis also has a keen eye for the camera and has craftily promoted his image while becoming the most marketable defensive player in the NFL. He is a TV commercial icon, with endorsements for EA Sports, Procter & Gamble, Under Armour, and Visa among others. His number 52 jersey is a top seller. Lewis also commands a high sum for motivational speeches.

During the national anthem prior to the AFC title game, Lewis stared forward intensely. When Lewis was shown on TV again, he could be seen emotionally mouthing the words, “Thank you father,” over and over and looking up toward the sky.

Lewis’ inspirational, charismatic and passionate personality has helped make him into a perceived hero who is universally praised and has rarely been criticized by members of the TV, radio, print and web media over the past decade.

Broadcasters, NFL players, and many fans heap admiration upon Lewis as both a player and a person. The NFL’s website features articles that speak glowingly of the Ravens’ star, and a search of his name on resulted in at least 16 articles written in the past week about Lewis just on that website.

Lewis reportedly negotiated with multiple TV networks to provide commentary on the NFL after his retirement. ESPN has offered Lewis a contract to work on its NFL programming beginning this summer, according to Sports Illustrated.

Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he may rely on Lewis for advice when his playing days are over after Lewis’ career, which ends after the Super Bowl.

Lewis has become one of the faces of the NFL. It has been a remarkable transformation for someone who was once charged with murder and admitted to lying to authorities the morning after the incident.

To read the rest of my article on, ( including interviews with Priscilla Lollar, Reginald Oakley, and Ed Garland, please click here.

P.S. Sorry for including a Ravens article on this Redskins blog!

1991 Washington Redskins: Best team in Super Bowl history

February 6, 2012

In an era with Super Bowl teams that have shoddy defenses, inconsistent ground attacks, and mediocre records, it’s easy to forget that decades ago, many Super Bowl teams not only had outstanding individual units but were balanced in every area.  In fact, five of the greatest Super Bowl teams of all time played in the 20 years from 1972 to 1991.

The somewhat subjective rankings are:

  1. 1991 Washington Redskins
  2. 1985 Chicago Bears
  3. 1972 Miami Dolphins
  4. 1989 San Francisco 49ers
  5. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

Twenty years ago, the greatest team of the Super Bowl era, the 1991 Washington Redskins, dominated the league from start to finish. The 1985 Chicago Bears had the most stifling defense, while the 1989 San Francisco 49ers possessed an unstoppable offense.  The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers were balanced on both sides of the ball as were the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins, but the Redskins faced a tougher schedule than all of them.

The Redskins of 20 years ago aren’t usually regarded as the best team of the Super Bowl era, and part of that is because of the quarterback, Mark Rypien. Though Rypien had a mostly pedestrian career, he did have a truly great season in 1991, and the numbers prove that. Rypien, an excellent deep passer, threw for 28 touchdowns, second in the NFL.

Rypien was second in passer rating, and he threw 14 TDs of 25 yards or more, most in the NFL. Rypien led the NFL in yards per pass completion, ahead of Hall of Famers Steve Young, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Warren Moon. Plus, Rypien’s 28 TDs were nearly twice as many as Bears quarterback Jim McMahon’s greatest single-season output of 15.

Washington had a strong running attack with Earnest Byner, Ricky Ervins, and Gerald Riggs combining for nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns.  Byner was the workhorse, Ervins provided elusiveness, and Riggs served as the short yardage back. Incredibly, the posse, Hall of Famer Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders, combined for more than 3,000 yards receiving.

Most impressively, the 1991 version of the Hogs allowed Rypien to be sacked only nine times all season.  The feat is even more remarkable because Rypien was anything but a mobile quarterback. The Hogs’ only Hall of Famer, left guard Russ Grimm, was a backup to Raleigh McKenzie that season. The two best linemen on the team were tackles Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby. Brian Mitchell ran back two punts for touchdowns to lead Washington’s excellent special teams, and kicker Chip Lohmiller made the Pro Bowl.

To read the rest of my article on, click here.

NFL Hall of Famer Art Monk

January 30, 2009

Now is a good time to reflect on former Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk making it to the NFL Hall of Fame last year after an 8-year wait. He should have been in on the first ballot, but it was better late than never. The majority of the voters supported him all along, making him a finalist for so many years.

Monk’s numbers stack up favorably against all the wide receivers in the Hall of Fame, he was a crucial part of four Super Bowl teams, and the Skins haven’t been the same since he left. Monk was nicknamed “Big Money” for his ability to make the critical catches in big games.(See for the article I wrote a year ago).

Art Monk makes his speech at the NFL Hall of Fame, 2008
Art Monk makes his speech at the NFL Hall of Fame, 2008

The NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last summer was a great time for Redskin fans. One of the greatest teams of all-time, the 1991 Washington Redskins, who went 17-2 and won the Super Bowl, didn’t have any Hall of Famers until Monk and Darrell Green made it last summer. Those Skins outscored their opponents by a greater margin than any team except the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2007 New England Patriots, but those were incomplete teams. I’m going to write about that Hall of Fame ceremony in another blog entry and include some great photos, but for now, let me say that the standing ovation Monk got – 5 minutes long (and would’ve been longer had he not ended it), was the greatest ovation I’ve ever seen.

One stat that jumps out at me is the 7 touchdowns Monk had in the playoffs for a 25.5-yard average for those TDs. The longest of his playoff TDs was 40 yards; the shortest was 16. The long distance from the goal line on those receptions says to me that without those TDs the Skins might have had to settle for field goals or possibly even come away empty on some of those drives. Plus, the Skins won all but one of those games. Two of those TDs were against the Bears a year after they had the greatest defense ever. Another was against Buddy Ryan’s Eagles, one of the best defenses of the ‘90s.

Other highlights from Monk’s stellar career:

  • Monk had 3 NFL records at one time – most catches in a career, most in a season, and most consecutive games with a catch.
  • Monk had more catches, yards, and TDs than Michael Irvin.
  • Monk averaged 15.4 yards a catch in the playoffs.
  • Monk had at least 38 catches of 40 yards or more.
  • In 1990, with the Skins at 6-5, the normally reserved Monk called a legendary team meeting, asking the Skins to rededicate themselves.The Skins finished 10-6 and made the playoffs, and went 17-2 in 1991 and won the Super Bowl.
  • Monk got the tough yards over the middle – he dished out a lot of hits too as his blocks sprang some big runs. Monk still averaged more yards per catch than Marvin Harrison or Cris Carter. In fact, as I write this, I’m looking at the list of the AFC’s top receivers (ranked by number of catches) for the 2008 season. Monk’s career average was better than the average of any of the top 14 receivers in the AFC this year except for Reggie Wayne. This despite the fact that receiving stats are way, way up in 2008 as opposed to where they were in the 1980s.
  • If the 1980 draft were done over again, Monk probably would have been selected first overall. Or third at the worst if you want to argue for Anthony Munoz or Dwight Stephenson, but almost all would say a HOF wide receiver is more valuable than a HOF offensive lineman.
  • Monk did it all without a HOF quarterback, with Joe Theismann, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien throwing to him.Imagine what Monk’s numbers would have been if he had had a HOF QB (like Montana, Young, Aikman, Bradshaw, or Kelly) for his whole career, or even part of it. (In fairness, Theismann was the NFL MVP in 1983).
  • He did it on a team that ran the ball a lot with a conservative coach.At the end of games the Skins were killing the clock, not padding WR stats. He did it during an era in which receiving stats were much less prolific than they are today (there were 3 individual 100-reception seasons from 1980-1993; there were 50 from 1994 to 2007).
  • In 1985, of Monk’s 91 catches, 32 occurred on 3rd down. 31 of those 32 went for first downs. Think about that.
  • Miscellaneous excerpt from the Redskins 1987 Press Guide: “Art exploded in Week 3 (of the 1986 season) in San Diego. He exploded for catches of 58, 41, and 38 yards. All three plays set up a score.” So for those people who say Monk should have had more TDs, keep in mind that he also set up a lot of TDs.
  • Here’s something that I missed in my 10,000 word article last year about Monk. In 1984, with the Redskins down 27-26 to the St. Louis Cardinals late in the final regular season game, Monk converted a reception on a 3rd and 19 play, setting up a game winning field goal that put the Redskins into the playoffs. Monk had 2 TDs in the game along with 11 catches and 136 yards in the game.
  • In 1985, first year starting quarterback Jay Schroeder completed 6 passes over 40 yards, all to Monk.

All the grass roots support for Monk by fans was a true phenomenon. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again. I wrote my article January 1, 2008. But many people had been sending letters and emails to the voters for years. Along the way, there was occasionally a little bit of bad blood from some of the fans aimed at some of the voters.

I’ve never communicated with Monk, but I’m certain that he was embarrassed by all the attention, and didn’t approve of any of the negativity. (Monk’s foundation is the Good Samaritan Foundation). To show how modest Monk is, on his bio on the website it doesn’t even mention that he is in the Hall of Fame (elsewhere on the site there is one mention of it). The fact is, Monk should have been in on the first ballot, and none of the extra stuff should have been necessary. But the outpouring of support says a lot for him.

Art Monk’s playoff touchdowns






L.A. Rams


51-7 victory


L.A. Rams





27-13 victory







20-6 victory


San Francisco


28-10 loss




41-10 victory

Finally, I don’t want to sprain my arm by patting myself on the back here, but a year ago, on January 1, 2008, I wrote:

“The 1991 Redskins only outscored their opponents by 17 points a game, better than every team in history except for the 2007 Patriots and the 1985 Bears. (It’s unfair to compare the 2007 Patriots to the 1991 Redskins, though, because the Skins were so much better. They had one of the best running attacks in the NFL while the Pats have one of the worst). Those Redskins took teams that spread the field with multiple wide receivers – the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills – and shredded them. The average score of the two playoff games and the Super Bowl that year was Redskins 34, opponents 14. And that team doesn’t have one Hall of Famer.”

With former Redskins receiver Gary Clark

With former Redskins receiver Gary Clark

Gary Clark was a great receiver, and deserves to be in the Hall as well, and if he played for the Steelers or the Cowboys, he’d be in. He doesn’t stand a chance, though, but to his credit he was Monk’s most vocal supporter to get into the Hall. Take a look how similar Clark’s stats were to Irvin’s:

Catches per Year

Yards per Year

Total TDs












One final note – the Redskins, who won three Super Bowls and went to a fourth, helped make offensive linemen famous with the Hogs. They won Super Bowls with three different QBs, and three different running backs gained more than 1000 yards. The Hogs were known as devastating blockers. They should have at least one offensive lineman represented in the Hall of Fame.

Joe Jacoby was one of the first of the mammoth offensive tackles at 6-6, 315. He set a trend for left tackles that size. Russ Grimm was also there for all the Super Bowls, and he and Jacoby would pull toward the opposite side of the field, another trend that changed the game. Then later, Jim Lachey took over at left tackle and had the size of Jacoby and also possessed ridiculous athleticism, a precursor to players like Tony Boselli.

(And how come nobody talks about Russ Grimm, the Cardinals offensive line coach, as a possible NFL head coach? He almost got the Bears job in 2004, and was a candidate for the Steelers coaching job in 2007. Then he helps the Cards to the Super Bowl and no one talks about him as a potential head coach?Just another example of anti-Redskins bias by the media).

Anyway, it’s fitting that Monk is now in the HOF alongside former Redskins great Charley Taylor. Congrats to Darrell Green too.