Michael Lewis
refer to caption
Lewis in 2021
New Orleans Saints
Position:Team ambassador
Personal information
Born: (1971-11-14) November 14, 1971 (age 52)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Height:5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight:173 lb (78 kg)
Career information
High school:Grace King (Metairie, Louisiana)
Undrafted:2000
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As an executive:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions:28
Receiving yards:553
Receiving touchdown:1
Return yards:7,807
Return touchdowns:4
Player stats at PFR

Michael Lee Lewis (born November 14, 1971) is an American former professional football player who is the team ambassador of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL).[1] He played as a wide receiver and return specialist, earning first-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl selection as a returner in 2002.

Lewis did not play college football, and was signed by the Louisiana Bayou Beast in 1998. He was also a member of the New Orleans Thunder,[2] New Jersey Red Dogs, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans VooDoo.

Early years

Lewis graduated from Grace King High School in Metairie, Louisiana in 1990.[3] Despite being a promising athlete, Lewis only played football during his freshman year before quitting to help his family with their rough financial situation by getting a job.[4] He became a father during his senior year of high school and chose to focus on supporting his newborn child instead of playing football or going to college.[5]

Professional career

Early career

Prior to his pro football career, Lewis was a Budweiser beer truck driver (thus, the nickname "Beer Man") whose truck route was a short distance from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In his early 20's, a friend introduced Lewis to an amateur flag football league that was having open tryouts. After seeing extreme success in flag football, Lewis decided to pursue his dream of playing pro football and waded through the various semi-professional football leagues, pro indoor leagues, and the Arena Football League, amassing impressive stats that resulted in him getting invites to various NFL training camps.[6]

Philadelphia Eagles

Lewis was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason in 2000. He was cut before the regular season began.

New Orleans Saints

Lewis returned to his hometown to deliver beer locally. However, the New Orleans Saints signed Lewis at the end of the 2000 NFL regular season. The Saints sent Lewis to play for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe in 2001.[7][8]

Lewis was the Saints' feature return specialist from 2002 until September 19, 2005, during a game against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands, when he injured his MCL and was put on injured reserve for the rest of the season.[9] Lewis returned to play for the Saints on October 29, 2006, during a home game against the Baltimore Ravens.[10]

In 2002, Lewis set an NFL record for combined kick-punt return yardage with 2,432 yards total (1,807 kickoff, 625 punt), leading the league in punt return yards, kickoff return yards, and all-purpose yards.[11] He is currently the Saints' all-time career leader in punt returns (142) and punt return yardage (1,482).

On December 21, 2003, he also played a role in the River City Relay as one of the receivers that would lateral a touchdown in a last second attempt to win the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (in which the Saints lost). The River City Relay won an ESPY, NFL play of the year, and an ESPN.com internet poll.[12]

In April 2006 Lewis returned to the Saints after recovering from a knee injury.[13]

The Saints released Lewis on June 15, 2007.[14] The local New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, titled the news, "There's a Tear in My Beer".[15]

San Francisco 49ers

Lewis with the 49ers in 2007

On September 25, 2007, the San Francisco 49ers signed Lewis to take over punt return duties. The incumbent punt returner, Brandon Williams, was released.[16]

New Orleans VooDoo

Lewis signed a contract with the New Orleans VooDoo on October 10, 2008. Team officials were preparing to make the announcement the following week, but the owner (Tom Benson, also the owner of the New Orleans Saints) decided to terminate operations on October 13, 2008.[17]

Post-retirement

Lewis subsequently took a position as a "Team Ambassador" for the Saints.[18] Though no longer an active player, Lewis was awarded a Super Bowl ring after the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in recognition of his continuing role with the team.[1] Lewis was selected for the Saints Hall of Fame in 2015.[19] In 2019, it was announced that biopic about Michael Lewis's life was being produced under the name "The Beer Man" with Aldis Hodge attached to the lead role.[20]

NFL career statistics

Receiving Stats[21]

Year Team GP Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FD Fum Lost
2002 NO 16 8 200 25.0 59 0 4 1 1
2003 NO 13 12 226 18.8 39 1 10 0 0
2004 NO 14 8 127 15.9 30 0 7 0 0
Total 43 28 553 19.8 59 1 21 1 1

Returning Stats[21]

Year Team GP PR Yds TD FC Lng KR Yds TD FC Lng
2001 NO 8 14 81 0 0 32 32 762 0 0 68
2002 NO 16 44 625 1 6 83 70 1,807 2 0 97
2003 NO 13 30 275 0 10 27 45 1,068 0 0 53
2004 NO 14 34 382 0 11 53 51 1,215 1 0 96
2005 NO 2 4 8 0 0 5 8 137 0 0 20
2006 NO 10 16 111 0 10 26 37 914 0 0 51
2007 SF 13 44 336 0 4 51 5 86 0 0 24
Total 76 186 1,818 1 41 83 248 5,989 3 0 97

Awards and honors

References

  1. ^ a b Krysten Oliphant "Michael Lewis reveling in new job with Saints" Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Monroe News-Star, July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Dominitz, Nathan (May 9, 1999). "Admirals run past Thunder". Pensacola News Journal. Pensacola, Florida. p. 44. Retrieved January 25, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Michael Lewis". San Francisco 49ers. Archived from the original on May 22, 2008.
  4. ^ "Movie about Michael Lewis's Life in the Works".
  5. ^ "Meet The NFL's Most IMPROBABLE Journey to the League".
  6. ^ KTO (July 10, 2017), Meet The NFL's Most IMPROBABLE Journey to the League, archived from the original on December 19, 2021, retrieved August 5, 2017
  7. ^ CNNSI.com - 2001 NFL Preview - Hey, beer man! Lewis the toast of Saints' camp - Wednesday August 15, 2001 07:26 PM
  8. ^ NFL.com | Official Site of the National Football League
  9. ^ NewOrleansProFootball.com
  10. ^ ESPN - 'Beer Man' Lewis on tap for Saints-Ravens game - NFL
  11. ^ NFL Players
  12. ^ New Orleans Saints - 404 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ NewOrleansProFootball.com
  14. ^ NewOrleansProFootball.com
  15. ^ ESPN - KR Lewis, DE Whitehead cut by Saints - NFL
  16. ^ Official Site of the San Francisco 49ers - PR News
  17. ^ NOLA.com - VooDoo terminates operations
  18. ^ Elicia Broussard, "Michael Lewis is Still Delivering", NewOrleansSaints.com, April 24, 2009 (retrieved May 11, 2009).
  19. ^ a b Joel A. Erickson, "Michael Lewis, Tyrone Hughes announced as next inductees to Saints Hall of Fame", The Advocate, May 19, 2015.
  20. ^ "Movie about New Orleans Saints standout Michael Lewis is in the works".
  21. ^ a b "Michael L. Lewis Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved January 20, 2014.