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It’s easy to root against them

Ray Lewis has a Super Bowl trophy but Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker are 13 years in the grave – stabbed to death outside an Atlanta nightclub in the aftermath of a party that followed the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta. Lewis was originally charged with two counts of murder in the case. He got top-notch legal representation, made a deal with prosecutors to testify against two men who were with him the night of the killings and wriggled off the hook. Both his companions were acquitted after a poor prosecution. Lewis walked after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. The NFL hit him with a relatively trifling fine and suspended him – an ever-so-gentle slap on the wrist. Since, Lewis claims to have found God and repented of his sins. He rehabilitated his career and, given the warped sense of values in the NFL and large segments of the population, he will likely be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Sunday’s game was played in New Orleans – a town I love. I have been multiple times and enjoy the history, the music and the food there. Food simply seems to taste better in New Orleans than anywhere else. The first kiss my bride and I of over 35 years exchanged took place on a balcony during the revelry that proceeded the 1976 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. So, the city holds a special place in my heart. New Orleans’ image was, however, forever tarnished in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Its residents repeatedly pilloried President George Bush for not responding to its needs quick enough while leaving over 400 city buses to be destroyed rather than using them to evacuate its own citizens. The images of looters wading through chest-high flood waters to steal everything that was not tied down will forever be burnished into America’s collective memory. Its mayor at the time of the flood, Ray Nagin, led the charge to criticize President Bush and everyone under the sun but never once acknowledged his administration’s failure to organize and evacuate in the days leading up to the storm for which there was ample warning. Now Nagin is charged with corruption. He allegedly took cash bribes from those who got contracts to rebuild New Orleans after the hurricane. Investigators claim to have found $100,000 in cash in his refrigerator. These dynamics were in play at the Super Bowl party I attended Sunday. Of the three dozen or so guests, not one was rooting for Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Then came the power outage and, instantly, came the sarcastic cries, ‘It’s Bush’s fault.’ During the delay, someone pulled up on a cellphone an ingenious photoshopped internet image that showed a grinning Bush cutting the wires in an electrical panel. New Orleans was cast in a bad light once again. It’s easy to root against Ray Lewis. He’s a thug, continues to act like a thug and has never really shown any remorse or contrition for his role in the killings of Lollar and Baker For many, it is also easy to root against New Orleans and its people. That is disheartening. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and the Pike County Journal Reporter.

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