Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Armstead Defends His Miami Buddy Lewis

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Armstead Defends His Miami Buddy Lewis

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jessie Armstead sat across the table from one of his University of Miami buddies at dinner a few nights ago, congratulated him on his season and wished him luck.

The New York Giants linebacker meant every word he said to his Baltimore counterpart, Ray Lewis.

In a little less than a week, the two won't be so close for a few hours.

They'll be on opposing sidelines when the Giants try to win the Super Bowl in Tampa by beating the Baltimore Ravens and Lewis, the middle linebacker who is the NFL defensive player of the year.

"I told Ray before the season that we would meet in Tampa, and he remembered that Tuesday night," Armstead recalled of their dinner in New York City. "He said, 'You were right.' I think it's going to be a great feeling for both of us."

Armstead and Lewis have known each other for about seven years.

"It started out when he was the young pup coming into the University of Miami, and I was one of the big dogs leaving campus," Armstead said shortly after the Giants held the team's first practice for the Super Bowl.

"We always stayed in touch when he was at Miami and I was in the NFL, and we've been in touch more now that we're both in the NFL," added Armstead, who was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth consecutive year. "We have been great friends, and we'll continue to be great friends."

Armstead said he has felt a great deal for Lewis this year, a time that saw Lewis survive the biggest crisis of his life.

Lewis was accused of double murder in the stabbing deaths of two men after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta in late January, and he spent 15 days in jail. After going on trial, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obstruction of justice and was put on probation for one year. He was fined $250,000 by the NFL for "detrimental conduct. …

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