Rush from Judgment

The Ravens' top rusher cops a plea to avoid a trial in his drug case
October 10, 2004

AY THIS ABOUT Ravens running back Jamal Lewis: The man can compartmentalize. Facing a Nov. 1 federal drug trial, the reigning NFL offensive player of the year hasn't missed a beat in 2004, scoring three touchdowns in his first three games. Last week his attorneys reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in Atlanta that will send him to prison for four months.

According to an indictment filed last February, in June 2000 Lewis, 25, introduced longtime friend Angelo Jackson to a woman he thought was a drug dealer but was actually an FBI informant. Lewis and Jackson allegedly intended to purchase and distribute five kilograms of cocaine. If convicted on the drug-conspiracy charge he faced, Lewis could have been sentenced to three years in prison. By pleading to a lesser charge (using a cellphone to set up a drug transaction), Lewis, who also agreed to cooperate in the case against Jackson, significantly reduced his potential jail time. "This seems to be a plea of convenience, not a plea of truth," says Steve Sadow, Jackson's attorney. (Lewis's attorneys could not be reached.)

Lewis also almost certainly faces a suspension. His plea is a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, which he breached in 2001. (He served a four-game ban.) Lewis seemed unfazed as he prepared to face the Chiefs on Monday night. "This is what I like to do, this is my career," he said. "That pretty much says it all."

COLOR PHOTOSCOTT THORNTON/WIREIMAGE.COM (LEWIS PLAYING) JAILBIRD Lewis (on field and leaving court last February) faces a four-month sentence.
COLOR PHOTOJOHN BAZEMORE/AP (LEWIS IN COURT) JAILBIRD Lewis (on field and leaving court last February) faces a four-month sentence.