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ESPN's Ray Lewis Spikes NFL Draft To Stay In Baltimore

ESPN analyst Ray Lewis will not take part in the network's NFL Draft coverage Thursday as planned and instead will remain in Baltimore to help quell the violence that erupted in the city yesterday.

Lewis, who was scheduled to be an on-air analyst for ESPN Thursday during the network’s coverage of the NFL Draft, said in a statement that he felt it “important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love. I greatly appreciate ESPN's understanding and flexibility at this late date. I did not feel right leaving the city at this time."

Lewis earlier released a video on his Facebook page pleading for calm after violent rioting in the city yesterday after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal injury while in police custody on April 19.

NFL Front Office Insider Louis Riddick to fill-in for Lewis on ESPN’s Round 1 telecast Thursday Night, said ESPN.

The violence in Baltimore generate strong ratings for Fox News Monday night as the news network drew nearly 3 million viewers in prime time to top CNN and MSNBC, according to Nielsen. CNN averaged 925,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo to lead all cable news networks.

On a 24-hour basis Fox was tops with 1.4 million viewers, followed by CNN’s 907,000 viewers. CNN drew 368,000 25-54 year old viewers in the daypart compared to FNC’s 349,000.