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Out of the Humidor

| From Mario Carbone, November/December 2016

Dear Marvin,
You provided an exceptional interview with Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. I was most impressed with his person and his view on the plight of inner-city youth growing up without their fathers' influence. Mr. Lewis implied that the root cause was "The day we took prayer out of schools." This is a most profound observation and should be broadcast all over the U.S.A.
Miles Eberts
Melbourne, Florida

Dear Marvin,
Kudos to you for a superb interview with one the NFL's most dominant defensive players of all time. I learned a lot of new facets to Lewis I never knew existed.

Well done and a hat tip to Ray for his willingness to open himself up to the readers.
Rod Hall
Woodbridge, Virginia

Dear Marvin,
Ray Lewis's claims regarding his lack of involvement in the homicides of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar are extremely questionable, bordering on outright lies.

Lewis admitted he gave a misleading statement to police on the morning after the homicides (initially telling police he was not at the scene). The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the homicides has never been found. And Jacinth Baker's blood was found inside Lewis's limousine. Baker's blood being found inside Lewis's limousine could be attributed to another party involved in the homicides without Lewis's knowledge. Lewis did claim, in your interview, he told police he did not know all the people inside his limousine. However, the other two issues are very relevant.

A person of interest in a homicide does not give a favorable impression to police when they lie about their presence at the scene of the crime (even if they are uninvolved), and they do not appear to be cooperative when the clothing they were wearing during the crime disappears to never be seen again.

Lewis's initial lie about not being present could be forgiven as impulsive and nothing more than the desire for an NFL star to remain uninvolved in a very controversial off-field incident, but it is not a regular or acceptable occurrence for the wardrobe of an NFL star to vanish and never be located.

Ray Lewis was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying about his presence at the scene of a double homicide, and for destroying the clothing he was wearing that night. Lewis's claim "I was found guilty of obstruction of justice because I simply said ‘I don't know everybody that was in the limo' " is extremely unbelievable and is demonstrably false when compared to publicly available evidence from his plea deal and the trials of companions Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.
A. Michael Shipley
Bloomington, Illinois

Editors' Response: Lewis served a one-year probation for the charge of obstruction of justice, a misdeameanor. We repeat the words of lead detective Ken Allen, who told Cigar Aficionado Lewis should never have been charged with homicide. He also said: "I don't think Ray Lewis murdered anybody."

Dear Marvin,
I've just finished your interview with Ray Lewis. Wow! It absolutely blew me away—one of the best interviews I've ever read.

Aside from being the best linebacker I've ever seen play, Ray Lewis' depth and maturity in his response to your questions is equally impressive—from his ‘inside' reflection as a player, "We weren't talking about first downs, we were talking about one yard,"—to the "sweet spot" hit on Eddie George: "He was in my way,"—to Lewis asking his teammates to just "Give me one play of everybody doing their job."

Other interview highlights: his acknowledging being immature at 24 years old, leading to his association with the wrong people, in conjunction, his advice to his sons ("I'm never concerned about you, I'm concerned about the people and the company you keep.")

And of course, Ray Lewis' quote, influenced from his grandfather: "And cigars for me became my getaway, became an isolated moment that every man needs."

Congratulations for a captivating interview.
Ken Carson
Mission Viejo, California

Dear Marvin,
In February I had the opportunity to tour Havana and the western end of the island by motorcycle. The experience of the Car Talk crew [Cuba's Classic Car Détente, August 2016] reminded me of the very warm hospitality of the Cuban people and sadly of the difficulties they face each day. While there I had an enjoyable tour of Havana en route to dinner on my last night in a 1957 Ford convertible. What a hoot! We visited a couple of cigar operations and it goes without saying that I had the chance to enjoy several sticks while there. Yes, my luggage contained a few allowed cigars to savor on my return.
Jim Toombs
Lillian, Alabama

Dear Marvin,
I have smoked many of the cigars that you rate highly, including many of your Top 25 from 2015. While many are good in my opinion, none are near the best that I have smoked. My concern is that I do not even find many of my favorite cigars being rated. What gives?
Andy Dake
Alma, Nebraska

Editors' Response: To make our Top 25, a cigar has to score well in a blind taste test (typically a 91-point score or higher) and then it must perform again in a special blind testing just for the Top 25. We rate all of our cigars blind, and we buy the cigars at retail, and to make the Top 25 a cigar has to score well again and again. Making our Top 25 is difficult—and intentionally so. Not every brand makes it.