‘Deer’ Ray Lewis: We need some answers
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 00:01
Ray Lewis is a dominating presence. Whether he is in the middle of the football field or in the middle of reporters, the 13-time Pro Bowler is no stranger to attention. Sometimes that is not always a good thing, however.
With more than 5,000 media members crowding the sidelines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Tuesday, Lewis brought some controversy to an otherwise standard Super Bowl Media Day.
The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year refused to answer questions about a Jan. 31 Sports Illustrated report claiming he used the banned substance IGF-1, a muscle stimulating hormone found in deer antler extract. According to the article, Lewis used the extract to speed up the recovery time of a torn tricep injury he suffered in October.
A supplement company called S.W.A.T.S (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids) reportedly issued the spray to Lewis and recorded phone conversations of him speaking with company owner Mitch Ross.
The problem? The NFL doesn’t test for IGF-1, which makes it pretty easy to take under wraps without worrying about the consequences.
This sounds like a major story just waiting to unravel at the feet of a league desperately trying to improve its public image. One of the NFL’s biggest stars embattled in a banned substance scandal just six days before he plays his last game in the Super Bowl? Quentin Tarantino could not script it any better.
These accusations are being pushed aside by Lewis and the league probably because this is not the first time it has happened.
A 2011 Yahoo! article reports text messages were sent to S.W.A.T.S. by Lewis acknowledging his receipt of this same deer antler extract.
This info was harder to find than Manti Teo’s girlfriend. In the age of steroid hysteria in sports, why do the NFL and Lewis get free passes?
Lewis vehemently denied the claims Tuesday in front of thousands of onlookers. His charming personality quickly pushed the issue to the back burner.
“I won’t even speak about it,” Lewis said. “I’ve been in this business seventeen 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 if I’ve ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that, tell him to try to get his story off somebody else.”
I say this “stupidity” needs to be entertained. In the wake of baseball’s “Steroid Era” and Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, enhancement drugs have firmly placed their asterisk on the sporting world. Why do we allow the NFL to slip through the cracks?
This is the same league that still doesn’t test for HGH - the most popular performance-enhancing substance in the business, and they’re getting away with it.
Ray Lewis will play his final game Sunday and ride off into the sunset. His illustrious career will propel him into the Hall of Fame and he will be regarded as one of the most prolific linebackers in the history of the game. That cannot be denied.
The legitimacy of his career can, and until he wants to address it, we can sit in silence and wait.
The NFL would be proud.