ProFootballTalk The good news is that linebacker Ray Lewis may not be facing many questions about a 13-year-old controversy during media day. The bad news is that there’s a fresh topic into which the assembled reporters will want to delve when Lewis and the Ravens gather at the Superdome for the annual exercise in journalistic hysteria. According to Sports Illustrated, Lewis contacted a company owned by a former male stripper to obtain a deer-antler velvet extract after tearing his triceps in October. Mitch Ross of S.W.A.T.S reportedly videotaped the phone call from Lewis. “Spray on my elbow every two hours?” Lewis asked Ross regarding the extract, via Philly.com “No,” Ross said. “Under your tongue.” Later, Lewis asked Ross to “just pile me up and just send me everything you got, because I got to get back on this this week.” The problem for Lewis is that the extract contains IGF-1, which is on the NFL’s list of banned substances. For the NFL, the problem is that Lewis will retire after Sunday. So there’s really nothing that can be done.
This story is making the rounds today, and it appears in great detail in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, which I just finished reading. The whole article is available here. Apparently this shady supplement dealer named Mitch Ross, who has been helping the Ravens and other NFL teams for years through former quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson, gave Ray Lewis a “deer antler spray” to help him return from a torn triceps injury in time for the playoffs. A torn triceps is extremely painful, and is normally a season ending injury, but Lewis missed just the final ten games of the regular season and returned for the Ravens playoff run. As we now know, the Ravens face the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday, and Lewis is the playoff’s leading tackler.
Ross is a co-owner of S.W.A.T.S. which stands for Sports With Alternatives To Steroids. The “deer antler spray” that he provided to Lewis contains a substance known as IGF-1, which is on the NFL’s banned substance list, and Ross has a taped recording of his phone discussions with Lewis who requested the spray and other items to help his triceps heal so he could quickly return to the field. On the call, Ross tells Lewis exactly how to use the spray which contains the banned substance, and other treatments that were designed to help Lewis recover from his injury.
As I mentioned above, Ross is a shady character, a former male stripper and steroid user, Ross’ story is detailed at length in the Sports Illustrated article linked above. The report also claims that Lewis, who is retiring after the Super Bowl, knows that he cannot be punished by the league after retirement so he took the banned substance thinking there could be no repercussions.
Lewis denies the report, claims that Ross is looking to get press for his company, and that he is not worthy of getting any press. Ross claims that Lewis was sent his products for free, but agreed to endorse the products, once they helped him get back on the field.
Is Ray Lewis a warrior who did whatever it took to get back on the field to lead his team on an amazing Super Bowl run? Is he a cheater? Is he a victim of a dirtbag who is trying to gain press for this company? We won’t know before the Super Bowl but time will tell.