Lewis denies using banned deer antler spray
NEW ORLEANS — Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is a man of many faces, many personalities, many talents, many words.
But during an eminently successful career that has been oft-celebrated and oft-debated, one of those words never has been “Cheater.”
What was supposed to be coronation week for a soon-to-retire player who is respected around the NFL for his advocacy of playing the game right and with respect transformed Tuesday into a second major Super Bowl controversy for him. Lewis was forced to deny allegations he used deer antler extract, which contains a banned substance that would violate the NFL's rules against steroids.
There is no danger that Lewis could be kept from playing against the 49ers in the Super Bowl because he could appeal any finding, a process that would last far past Sunday.
Much like his last Super Bowl appearance during the 2000 season, Lewis — essentially a middle linebacker in the Ravens' hybrid defense — was the man in the middle during Super Bowl Media day.
Then, he was asked repeatedly to discuss his involvement in the deaths of two men in Atlanta that occurred a year before — an unsolved case that is raising questions at this Super Bowl, too.
Now, according to a Sports Illustrated report, Lewis called up a business known as Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) more than three months ago and asked for help in dealing with a torn triceps that threatened to end his season and, possibly, his career. According to the business' co-owner, Mitch Ross, one of the products Lewis obtained was the deer antler spray, which contains a banned substance known as IGF-1.
Lewis denied the report and called the allegation “stupidity.”
“Any test I ever took in the NFL? There's never been a question if I even thought about using anything,” said Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker.
However, Ross said he has known Lewis for years, first meeting him through former Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson, now a Bengals assistant.
“Two years ago, it was the same report,” Lewis said, citing a previous SI report linking Jackson and, through him, Lewis to SWATS. “I wouldn't give that report or him any of my press. He's not worthy. Next question?”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh strongly supported the Ravens' on-field and emotional leader, saying, “Ray has passed every test for substance abuse that he's taken throughout his athletic career.”
Still, the allegation couldn't come at a worse time for Lewis, who announced several weeks ago he would retire after this season. Several teammates have cited the emotional edge and leadership Lewis has provided since returning from the triceps injury; he actually is playing better statistically than he was before he was hurt.
The Ravens reportedly met with Lewis on Tuesday to discuss the article.
In New Orleans, Lewis also has been asked multiple times about the Atlanta case in which he plead guilty to obstruction of justice. He now appears to be wearying of those questions, too.
“Nobody here is really qualified to ask me those questions,” Lewis said. “I would rather direct questions in other places. I live with that every day. You can take a break from it.”
For Lewis, that day won't come until at least Monday.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Student: Ex-Titan chased him, friends before crash
- Vikings bar Peterson from all team activities
- NFL notebook: Ex-Titans kicker Bironas dies in car wreck
- NFL notebook: QB-strapped Bucs hold tryout for Pryor