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The Caw: Taking The (Paintball) Field Against Ray Lewis


Ray Lewis is retired, but he's still the field general.

I had the pleasure of being on a Ravens team at the Ray's Summer Days paintball event Saturday afternoon. Now in its ninth year, the three-day event benefits the Ray Lewis Foundation.

Seeing Lewis in paintball action gave me flashbacks to watching him back at M&T Bank Stadium.

Lewis and his all-star paintball squad, including brother and fellow former NFL player Keon Lattimore, a Pev's Paintball employee and another guy that looked like a G.I. Joe, were juggernauts.

The team faced several challengers, all focused on the singular goal of trying to take out King Lewis. Ray knew this, so he stationed himself in the back, drawing in his opponents and directing his infantrymen to mow them down.

Lewis barked out orders with the same gusto he did on the football field. He tracked the movement of the other team as if he'd watched game tape, and positioned his troops accordingly. He huddled his team to discuss strategy after each win.

The only issue was that spectators started giving Lewis a hard time for crouching in the back.

So one game, Lewis made a break for it – and he paid. For the first time that anyone could remember, Lewis went down. The crowd was aghast, and Phil Tansill of Ravens Roost 15 became an instant celebrity on Lewis' front yard, where the event was held.

"As soon as he came across the middle I thought it was Christmas, and I just lit him up," Tansill told me. "When I was first invited to come out here, I was a little intimidated to do anything against Ray Lewis. But you've got to take the challenge."

My team of Ravens employees faced Lewis in his final regular-season match. It didn't go so well … for us.

Despite deciphering their strategy, I, too, was overcome by the prospect of sniping The King. I made a charge, got him in my sights, and found myself exchanging fire with Ray Lewis.

Then I felt a rat-a-tat-tat nailing me in the ribs, hip and leg. Rumor has it that Lewis' team was using multi-shot guns while the rest of us toted the paintball equivalent of muskets. Turns out our aim wasn't too hot either. We didn't get a single one of their five players in the skirmish.

I'm not sure if Lewis was the one who plastered me in orange or not, but we'll say it was. He certainly enjoyed checking out my battle wounds.

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