NEW ORLEANS Ravens coach John Harbaugh says star linebacker Ray Lewis assured him "there’s nothing to" a magazine report linking him to a company that makes deer-antler spray containing a banned performance enhancer.
Harbaugh said Wednesday morning he spoke with Lewis. The coach said Lewis "knows there is nothing to it. He understands it’s something he’s never been involved in."
NFL linebacker on banned substance report
On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated reported that Lewis sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis was the NFL’s leading tackler in the playoffs after missing 10 regular-season games with the injury.
"He laughed about it," Harbaugh said, referring to Lewis. "He told me there’s nothing to it. He’s told us in the past and now that he has never taken any of it."
Baltimore plays the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday in the final game of Lewis’ career.
On Tuesday, Lewis declined to directly address in any detail questions about the report that he sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed his recovery from a torn right triceps.
The company, Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), says its deer-antler substance contains a banned performance-enhancer connected to human growth hormone.
The 37-year-old Lewis, who has announced he will retire after playing against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, dismissed the report as "stupidity."
Sport Illustrated reported that SWATS owner Mitch Ross recorded a call with Lewis hours after the player hurt his arm in an October game against Dallas. According to the report, Lewis asked Ross to send him deer-antler spray and pills, along with other products made by the company.
The magazine also said that when it spoke to Lewis for its story, he acknowledged asking Ross for "some more of the regular stuff" on the night of the injury and that he has been associated with the company "for a couple years through Hue Jackson."
Jackson is a former Ravens quarterbacks coach and later head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Two years ago he stopped endorsing SWATS because his ties to the company violated NFL rules.
"That was a 2-year-old story that you want me to refresh … so I won’t even speak about it," Lewis said Tuesday. "Because I’ve been in this business 17 years, and nobody has ever got up with me every morning and trained with me. Every test I’ve ever took in the NFL there’s never been a question of if I ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that. …"
The NFL didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah declined comment.
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"The team knew about this report. Ray denies taking anything and has always passed tests," Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said.
Harbaugh said he found out about the SI story during the team’s bus ride to the Superdome for media day.
All in all, the topic only added to what already was a week filled with plot lines connected to Lewis.
There is the largely rehabilitated image of a man who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with a double murder after a Super Bowl party at an Atlanta nightclub in 2000. There is the impending retirement, a self-titled "last ride" for a player widely considered one of the top defenders in NFL history and the Super Bowl MVP in 2001.
And there is his recovery from what was originally thought to be a season-ending injury.
"When I tore my tricep, the doctor looked at me after I went in the office and she told me that I was out for the year. And I said, `Doc, are you sure?’ I said, `Nah.’ I said, `Doc, there’s no way I’m going to be out for the year with just a torn tricep,’ " Lewis said with a laugh Tuesday. "I said, `I’ve been through way worse.’ She was like, `Ray, nobody’s never come back from this.’ I said, `Well, nobody’s ever been Ray Lewis, either.’ "
Could this story threaten the fairy-tale ending to Lewis’ career?
"Lewis has become maybe the biggest story of this postseason. His journey to finish his career with another Super Bowl has been presented as a tale about a player’s continuing quest for redemption as he leaves the sport," writes CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman."If Lewis was using PEDs, then that story changes and not for the better."
Source : cbsnews[dot]com