NFL

Smith: Doubting Ravens' leadership 'a joke'

09/25 7:56 PM

Wide receiver Torrey Smith took exception to former linebacker Ray Lewis' assertion that the Baltimore Ravens lack leadership after a report surfaced about wide receiver Jacoby Jones getting hit over the head by a stripper wielding a champagne bottle.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Wide receiver Torrey Smith took exception to former linebacker Ray Lewis' assertion that the Baltimore Ravens lack leadership after a report surfaced about wide receiver Jacoby Jones getting hit over the head by a stripper wielding a champagne bottle.

Lewis, an ESPN analyst who played 17 seasons for the Ravens, made his comments Monday after details of the alleged incident were reported by the media.

"We have great leadership, so to say because of one incident that it's a leadership issue, to me, is a joke because everyone is not going to always be around and incidents happen," Smith told The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday. "Stuff happens in the locker room, stuff happens in the spur of the moment. Now, if it happens every week, all the time, then that's a problem. For one incident to happen and say it's a leadership issue when most of the team wasn't there, it's an overreaction.

"It's only bad because someone went and ran to TMZ. If no one knew, it wouldn't be an issue. We would resolve it in the locker room. It's resolved anyways."

On Wednesday, several Ravens players echoed Smith's thoughts.

"It is what it is. Ray knows better than that. Things happen. We're usually a pretty good team with stuff like that. If you look around the league, there's a lot of leadership problems then," quarterback Joe Flacco said.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs said the Ravens are "having fun" with Lewis' comments.

"We've never been the type of locker room that wears our feelings on our sleeves," he said, while admitting he didn't know what Lewis said.

"We have a lot of leaders on this team. I don't think that's one thing we're stressed [about]. We don't know worry about that. We're worried about what we're trying to do as a team."

Lewis told USA Today Sports his comments were blown out of proportion.

"I'm totally confused with how someone can take something and make more of it, when what I was saying was so general," Lewis said. "If anybody takes offense to that, I don't get it. What did I say that was so bad?"

Coach John Harbaugh on Monday characterized Jones as "fine" and said the Pro Bowl kick returner attended team meetings Monday.

"I'm not very impressed personally with the report," Harbaugh said. "It's not something we want to be known for. We'd like to think it's not something those guys would want to be known for. It's nothing to be proud of, so I'm kind of disappointed in that sense."

Jones addressed the incident Wednesday on his radio show in Baltimore, while also saying "everything is fine" between him and his coach.

"I'm going to take the responsibility that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Jones said on 105.7 The Fan. "There was no altercation. There's nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong, but I take responsibility for being in wrong place at the wrong time. Enough said. I apologize to my teammates and everybody."

This is the second time this month that Lewis has talked about a leadership void on the Ravens. Since winning the Super Bowl, the Ravens lost several veteran leaders in Lewis (retired), safety Ed Reed (signed with the Houston Texans), wide receiver Anquan Boldin (traded to the San Francisco 49ers) and center Matt Birk (retired). But coaches and players talked all offseason about linebacker Terrell Suggs and quarterback Joe Flacco stepping into those roles.

"Leadership on our team is good," fullback Vonta Leach told The Sun. "I don't think necessarily there's a question about our leadership. It's bad publicity, but no one got hurt or arrested. It could have been worse. Things happen. It's all right."

Lewis was with the Ravens on Sunday, when he was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor.

"This is something that we spoke about earlier in the year when we talk about the transition of losing so many guys, a guy like myself and Ed Reed and other guys, that are based off leadership," Lewis said on "Monday Night Football." "Because I've said it earlier: 'Where would the leadership come from?' Because the leadership being strong in the locker room and winning games ... listen, talent sometimes can win you games. But when you talk about what's going on off the field, that's the most important place where leadership steps up.

"When you think about the Baltimore Ravens and the transition that they went through, they're missing leadership right now. When you have an incident like [late Sunday] night, the first thing a leader is going to do is find some way to dissolve everything that's going on -- and actually dissolve it before it comes to that type of head or even gets to this point. When you talk about the Baltimore Ravens, they're going to have to refocus and find some leaders in that locker room very quickly."


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