By: CEO Steve Hartman, Muskingum ’89

As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, this hurts. I’m about to shower praise upon Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and my stomach is in knots. I’m all jangled. My gut can’t believe what my brain is telling my fingers to type. But, here goes…

Following the Ravens heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in January’s AFC championship game—a game in which victory was literally in the hands of a Ravens receiver in the final minute—Ray Lewis challenged his teammates to take the defeat as an opportunity to become stronger. Of the loss, Lewis says to his teammates, “This makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. Let’s make someone smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going.”

His message: When life gives you storms, when challenges come your way, you have exactly one minute to feel sorry for yourself and then you need to use these feelings of defeat and despair to grow and motivate yourself to prepare for the next opportunity.

For football fans, Lewis can be a divisive figure because his career has had an occasional controversy, but the audio of Lewis’ speech provides some insight into his character.

It’s interesting to contrast Lewis’ perspective with Tom Brady’s reaction to losing the Superbowl (my apologies to UAB President Steve Binzel for bringing this up) to the New York Giants. In an article written by Dan Wetzel, Brady is described as inconsolable, despondent and utterly in despair.

Life throws you curveballs (or in this case, missed field goals) and you often have to figure out how to move forward. We have all let ourselves fall into the doldrums from time to time, but during those times when we can only see what we’ve lost, we may need someone to challenge us to refocus on what we have—the people around us, the opportunities ahead, the proverbial silver lining.

The Steelers have won six Lombardi trophies. That not-so-small fact has nothing to do with this post except that it is kaopectate to my self-inflicted, Raven-praising dyspepsia. So, for today, it’s hats off (helmets off?) to Ray Lewis for his words of wisdom and encouragement. And here’s to wishing for him to give the same speech next year.

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