BY MAGGIE WESLEY
MICHAEL LEWIS CONTINUES TO REPRESENT HIS COMMUNITY
hometown hero from the New Orleans area, Michael Lewis was not your regular football player. Unlike most NFL players, Lewis did not play football when he attended Grace King High School in Metairie. In helping support his family, Lewis worked several jobs which prevented him from playing formally. Most famous among these odd jobs was serving as a beer truck driver, giving him the nickname “Beer Man”. When Lewis finally got the urge to play the
6 4 NEW
game, he was offered a spot in the Professional Indoor Football League for the Louisiana Bayou Beast, based in Baton Rouge from 1998-99, where his 5-8, 173-pound frame made him elusive on offense and in the return game. After surpassing expectations in the PIFL and with the New Jersey Red Dogs of the Arena Football League, Lewis received invitations to attend several NFL training camps, participating in camp with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2000. At the end of the 2000 regular
O RL E A N S S A IN T S | G A M E D AY M A G A ZIN E 2 019
season, Michael Lewis joined the team’s practice squad, where he was part of the squad that won the franchise’s first playoff game. In 2001, he was sent to NFL Europe to further develop his skills for Rhein Fire. When he returned to New Orleans for training camp, Michael Lewis made his mark on the team, where he earned a roster spot with his play in the return game in the preseason. He developed the best returner in the NFL in 2002, when he set an NFL record for combined kick-punt return yardage with 2,432 yards, including 1,807 on kickoffs and 625 on punt returns. At the conclusion of the season, he was selected to the Pro Bowl and as an Associated Press All-Pro. Overall, Lewis played seven seasons in the NFL. He ranked in the top four in the NFL in punt return yards twice (2002 and 2004). At the start of the season in 2005, Lewis suffered a serious knee injury, but he returned at midseason in 2006 to handle return duties for the club that advanced to the NFC Championship for the first time. In 2007, he closed out his career with the San Francisco 49ers. Following the conclusion of his NFL playing career, Lewis returned to New Orleans and has been a stalwart in the community. For several seasons, he served as a “Team Ambassador” for the team, receiving a Super Bowl XLIV ring for his off-the-field and community outreach efforts with the club. In 2015, he was inducted into Saints Hall of Fame and the following year was named to the Saints All 50th team. While maintaining several business interests in the area, Lewis remains as one of the club’s most active alumni locally. He participates in the annual Saints Celebrity fan cruise working with Carnival cruise lines. In 2017, Deuce McAllister and Michael Lewis spoke on behalf of the Saints for the NFL’s Character Playbook to discuss healthy relationships and character with local students. In the 2018 off-season, he participated in an NFL Play 60 Camp in Vancouver with current Saints players Terron Armstead, David Onyemata and Cameron Jordan. He also stays close to the game by training prospects for the NFL Draft. Through all these on and off the field ventures, home is where the heart is for Michael Lewis.