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Ray Lewis laughs off Sports Illustrated's deer-antler report

By Jerry Sullivan

NEW ORLEANS -- Ray Lewis again denied a published report that claims he took deer antler spray, which contains a substance banned by the NFL, during his recovery from a torn triceps injury this season.

Lewis, speaking before a packed conference room during a Super Bowl media session this morning, laughed when the first questioner asked him to respond to a report in the digital version of Sports Illustrated.

"I think honestly, I'm going to say it very clearly again," Lewis said. "It's probably one of the most embarrassing things we can do on this type of stage. I think it takes away from ... You give somebody the ability to come into our world. Our world is a very secret society. We try to protect our world as much as we can. But when you let cowards come in and do things like that, to try to disturb something ...

"I've said it before. I've said it a million times," he continued. "The reason why I'm smiling is because it's so funny and absurd. Because I've never, ever took what he says I, or whatever I was supposed to do. It's just sad, once again, that someone could have that much attention on a stage this big, where the dreams are really real. They're really real.

"I don't need it. My teammates don't need it. The 49ers don't need it. Nobody needs it, because it shows you how people plan things and try to attack people from the outside. It's just foolish. It's very foolish. The guy has no credibility. He's been sued four or five times over this same BS. Just to entertain it, I can't. I won't."

The investigative piece in SI, which is lengthy and detailed, does question the credibility of an Alabama-based company called Sports with Alternative to Steroids (SWATS), which provides various remedies to athletes looking to gain an edge and recover from injuries. Many of the products are legal. But the deer antler spray has been found to contain a banned substance.

The SI story contends that Mitch Ross, the owner of SWATS, recorded a phone call with Lewis after his injury against the Cowboys in October. The report says Lewis asked for the deer antler spray at that time.

After Lewis responded to the opening inquiry, someone suggested he seemed angry.

"Me? Never angry," he said. "I'm too blessed to be stressed. No, not angry. You can use a different word. You can use the word 'agitated', because I'm here to win a Super bowl, not to entertain someone who doesn't affect that one way or the other. Angry? Anything from the outside could never affect me."

I asked Lewis if he could at least understand how, in the time of Lance Armstrong, the baseball steroid scandal, etc., it's hard for the media to take anything athletes say about PEDs at face value.

"Yeah, I don't ... you know, I'm always very careful with speaking about something that I don't know about. I don't know about Lance, I don't know about nobody. I can only tell you about Ray Lewis. So to speak about other people's cases, other people's situations, that's totally on them and whatever you guys want to write about them.

"As far as me," he said,  "I live a certain way. I do things my way, and everything else is everybody else's business."

While keeping in mind that SI was among the many publications that swallowed the Manti T'eo story, I tend to trust the magazine's reporting on this. It's hard to believe they would quote telephone calls between Lewis and Ross if the transcripts were phony.

And it's not as if Lewis hasn't lied to us before. I guess the one good thing about this deer antler saga is it kept anyone from asking him about helping cover up two stabbing deaths at the Super Bowl 13 years ago.


Ray Lewis | Super Bowl XLVII
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Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

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Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

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