Say you're an NFL player and you've gotten yourself into a bit of legal trouble. Criminal trouble. Say you're coming to the Super Bowl, where thousands of media members will want to know how you got into this trouble.
Super Bowl media day arrives. You've got to figure out how to eloquently state that you're not a criminal, just misunderstood. So, what can you do?
You turn to Ray Lewis.
Not literally, but figuratively. Fresh off a murder trial, Ray Lewis gave an epic media day performance at the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa. He was combative and ridiculous, comparing himself to Jesus at one point.
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson wasn't that bad Tuesday in Miami, but clearly he had learned a lot from the Ray Lewis Survival Guide to Media Day When You've Been Accused Of A Crime.
Johnson admonished the media for labeling him a thug, even though he wore dark sunglasses, a wave cap and a diamond earring to media day.
He gave Los Angeles Times columnist and "Around the Horn" regular Bill Plaschke the silent treatment when Plaschke asked if he was sorry for being arrested three times in 18 months, including as recently as Dec. 14, when police raided his home and discovered six guns and ammunition.
Johnson turned into a deacon on us, just like Lewis. He played the martyr card -- just like Lewis. He criticized the media -- just like Lewis. He played the race card -- just like Lewis.
Lewis in 2001: "Jesus couldn't please everybody. He was spit on, slashed at, talked about. Everything there was. But guess what? He hung his head and never said a mumbly word. That's my attitude."
Johnson in 2007: "I felt like the world was coming on top of my head. At the same time, as a faithful Christian, you have to continue to stick to the power of prayer because when times is bad, you have to continue to do what's important and what got you there. It might not change right now. It might not change tomorrow. It might not change a month from now. If you continue to pray, continue to look forward to the better things in life, it'll come out."
Lewis in Tampa: "Yeah, I'm black. And yeah, I'm blessed. But at the same time, let's find out the real truth. The real truth is this was never about those two kids who were dead in the street. It's about Ray Lewis."
Johnson in Miami: "It's easy to clump somebody. When you see me walking down the street, I don't look like you. I don't talk like you and I don't walk like you. It's easy to say, well, he's just like the other people, who we see all the time. I've given you guys the opportunity to stereotype me like that. It's unfortunate. It's just the way I am. I'm young. I'm black. I've got tattoos. I've got dreds. It is what it is."
Lewis before Super Bowl XXXV vs. the Giants: "I'm the figure that everybody says, 'They're out of control.' Are we really? No. We're just like everybody else. I'm a man. I bleed. I cry. I moan. I do all of that. So you move on in life."
Johnson before Super Bowl XLI vs. the Colts: "A lot of people are demons. You got to really look at it like that. A lot of people are really out to get people, just to hurt people. In my whole life, I never thought about racism in my whole life. I've never had a person come to me and say anything racist in my whole entire life. Now I look at it, I'm like, wow. Is this because I'm certain things? I realize people buy into stereotypes."