NEW ORLEANS — Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis Tuesday faced a new round of questions about his possible use of a performance-enhancing substance.
This week’s edition of Sports Illustrated reports that Lewis sought help from a company called S.W.A.T.S — Sports with Alternatives to Steroids — to help speed up his recovery from a torn right triceps in Week 6.
The company sells “chips”, hologram stickers that athletes place on pulse points to get energy. It also sells pills and deer-antler spray. Deer-antler spray has a high concentration of IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor, a protein similar to insulin. It is a natural hormone that can stimulate muscle growth. It is also banned by the NFL, other professional leagues in the United States, and the NCAA. But since it only can be detected by blood testing, and the NFL and NFL Players Association have yet to agree on blood testing, if it had been used it wouldn’t have been detected in a urine test.
Lewis Tuesday denied any involvement with S.W.A.T.S.
According to Sports Illustrated, Lewis called Mitch Ross, the owner of S.W.A.T.S., shortly after tearing his triceps in October looking for items that would help him recover faster.
“Athletes want to win and compete at the highest level and so they are willing to try anything,” Christopher Key, the other man behind S.W.A.T.S., told the magazine. “All the athletes in the beginning are like, ‘Look, we don’t care what it is. If it works we will use it.’ ”
Yahoo! Sports reported two years ago that former Ravens assistant coach Hue Jackson, through his relationship with Ross, received free S.W.A.T.S. products that he in turn distributed to Baltimore players, including Lewis.
“I’m going to say it again – that was a two-year-old story that you want me to refresh,” Lewis said. “I wouldn’t give [Ross] the credit to even mention his name or his antics in my speeches or my moment. I can’t do it so I won’t even speak about it.
“I’ve been in this business 17 years and nobody has ever gotten 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 ever even thought about using anything. To even entertain stupidity like that, tell him to try and get his story out with somebody else.”
The 37-year-old Lewis, the leading tackler in the playoffs after missing 10 regular-season games with the injury, has said he will retire after the Super Bowl.
Pollard not happy
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, noted injurer of Patriots players, received a $15,250 fine for his hit on Wes Welker in the AFC Championship game, and not surprisingly was not happy about it.
At Baltimore’s session during Media Day, Pollard, who recently said he thinks there won’t be an NFL in 30 years because of the crackdown on big hits, grumbled that some of the fines defensive players receive are unfair.
“I’m sorry, but at the end of the day this is football. This is a man’s game. If you nip a quarterback’s facemask, if you touch his helmet, it’s $15,000. That is ri . . . dic . . . u . . . lous. Are you serious?” Pollard said.
Then he mentioned his hit on Welker.
“I think some of the stuff that they’re doing, as far as when a receiver catches the ball and hitting him in the head and everything, I think that is something good. We have to eliminate that. But, especially for me, I just got fined $15,000 out of my paycheck for me tackling a guy who’s 5-9 who jumped into my tackle,” he said. “I grazed him with the side of my head and I got $15,000, but that guy, he got his full check. I just don’t think that’s fair.”
Yet for someone who thinks there are too many fines, Pollard was one of those shouting the loudest that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady should be docked for his sliding kick on Ed Reed. Brady was fined $10,000, and Reed said Brady contacted him personally to apologize.
After the 2011 lockout, the Patriots had free agent 49ers safety Dashon Goldson in for a visit and offered him a contract, but he returned to San Francisco for two years and was voted first-team All-Pro this year.
“I think the visit went well, man,” Goldson said. “It was very nice. Got a chance to meet some of those guys, some of the players and coaches. Just a classy organization. Sat down with coach [Bill] Belichick, a good dude, sat there and talked football a little bit. It was a good event but I made the choice to come back here.”
Goldson actually didn’t have much of a choice. The Patriots offered Goldson a contract less than the one-year, $2 million deal he signed with the 49ers.
“Yeah,” Goldson said when asked if he thought it was a low offer. “And it was for one year, like San Francisco, so the choice was pretty easy.”
Goldson said the chance to sit with Belichick for a few minutes made the trip worthwhile.
“Just the meeting alone,” Goldson said. “I had a lot of respect for him, what he has done for the game of football, and just giving me the opportunity to visit the organization.”
Goldson, 28, may get that chance again. After playing for the franchise tag ($6.2 million) this year, hewill be a free agent if the 49ers don’t tag him again ($7.44 million) or reach a contract extension by March 13. The Patriots, who likely will let Patrick Chung test the free agent waters, will be looking for one or two safeties again this offseason.
Father knows best
On Monday, Joe Flacco’s father called the Ravens quarterback, “dull. As dull as he is portrayed in the media, he is that dull. He’s dull.”
That didn’t seem like a loving opinion of his son, but Tuesday Joe said he took his father’s words as complimentary.
“People have been telling me that my dad was quoted as calling me that,” he said. “I think he [means] it as a compliment because I believe that it probably means I’m going out there and carrying myself in a good manner and not giving anybody a reason to maybe like or dislike me. Either way, I don’t really concern myself with all that.”
Of course, the followup question was how Flacco would describe himself.
“I don’t know if I would say I’m dull, but I’m probably pretty close to it,” he said.