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ESPN signs Ray Lewis

11:57 AM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
Ray Lewis. (Getty Images Sport)
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Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has announced its long-expected hiring of retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis as an analyst for its Monday and Sunday night pregame shows.

The 12-time Pro Bowler, who'll start August 1, is also expected to make SportsCenter appearances. But with that start date, Lewis presumably will not be part of ESPN's elaborate coverage of next month's NFL Draft.

Fresh off the Ravens' Super Bowl win, Lewis is catnip for broadcasters in at least one sense -- he's famous.

But part of his fame came from this: He plead guilty to a misdemeanor and testified against two co-defendants in a plea agreement in a murder case in 2000.

With his playing days over, he now says he can relax. "The first thing you think of is the pressure's off," said Lewis on ESPN Radio/ESPN2's Mike and Mike in the Morning Wednesday. "It's an awesome opportunity for both sides."

On that show, Lewis wasn't asked whether he could be candid in commenting on former teammates or opponents -- and wasn't asked much about anything relevant to TV sports.

But ESPN seems to have big plans to feature him prominently on-air. "Ray is a tremendous addition to our NFL roster and he will have an immediate impact on our coverage," says John Wildhack ESPN executive vice president/production in a statement. "One of the most accomplished players in NFL history, fans will be drawn to his knowledge, experience and, of course, the passion he always exudes for the game."

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