NEW ORLEANS -- Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis spent part of Tuesday's Super Bowl Media Day denying charges that he may have used a banned substance to recover quickly from his torn triceps.
Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that Lewis is believed to have used a deer antler spray product from SWATS (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids), which boasted that it contained IGF-1, which is banned by the NFL and most professional and college sports.
At first, Lewis sidestepped the question about using the product.
“Two years ago, it was the same report,” Lewis said. “I wouldn’t give that report or (SWATS owner Mitch Ross) any of my press. He’s not worthy of that. Next question.”
When asked directly whether he had used the spray during his recovery this season, Lewis said, "Nah, never."
The Ravens released a statement saying that Lewis denied using the product, and coach John Harbaugh was asked for a comment.
"My understanding is that he’s passed every random substance test that he’s taken throughout his career," Harbaugh said.
But Sports Illustrated reported that it listened to audio recordings of Lewis taking directions from Ross on how to use the product after his triceps injury in Week 6. Here is the excerpt from the story:
Hours after he tore his triceps during an Oct. 14 home game against the Cowboys, Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and Ross connected on the phone. Again, Ross videotaped the call.
"It's bottom, near the elbow," Lewis said of the tear. After asking a few pseudo diagnostic questions, Ross concluded, "All right, well this is going to be simple. . . . How many pain chips you got around the house?"
"I got plenty of them," Lewis replied.
Ross prescribed a deluxe program, including holographic stickers on the right elbow; copious quantities of the powder additive; sleeping in front of a beam-ray light programmed with frequencies for tissue regeneration and pain relief; drinking negatively charged water; a 10-per-day regimen of the deer-antler pills that will "rebuild your brain via your small intestines" (and which Lewis said he hadn't been taking, then swallowed four during the conversation); and spritzes of deer-antler velvet extract (the Ultimate Spray) every two hours.
"Spray on my elbow every two hours?" Lewis asked.
"No," Ross said, "under your tongue."
Toward the end of the talk, 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."
Ross says he provided the products free of charge. He even trotted out a novel SWATS technology for the star client: undergarments -- black with Lewis's name and number in -purple -- drenched in pungent menthol liquid that Key and Ross exposed to radio waves. All Ross wanted in return, he told Lewis, is for the future Hall of Famer to tell the truth -- that he used SWATS products -- when he returned to the field.
On Dec. 5, Lewis practiced for the first time. He did not play in the final regular-season games, but remained a boisterous sideline presence and joined the jubilant locker room celebration after Baltimore routed the Giants, 33-14, on Dec. 23 to win the AFC North.
Lewis had not talked to media for 10 weeks while he rehabbed his injury. Asked by SI if he had worked with Key and Ross during his recovery, he initially demurred. "I didn't work with them personally this time," he said.
When pressed, Lewis said, "Nobody helped me out with the rehab. I've been doing SWATS for a couple years through Hue Jackson, that's it. That's my only connection to them."
Asked if he had talked to Ross the night of his injury, Lewis replied, "I told him to send me some more of the regular stuff, the SWATS, the stickers or whatever."
And did they help?
"I think a lot of things helped me."