NEW ORLEANS – Ray Lewis acknowledged Wednesday that he is "agitated" that his name was again linked in a report concerning performance-enhancing drug use and blasted his accuser as a "coward" who was using the run-up to Super Bowl XLVII to gain attention.
Lewis vehemently denied the claim in Sports Illustrated by Mitch Ross, co-owner of Sports With Alternative to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.), that Lewis used deer-antler velvet spray to help recover from a torn triceps injury. This came two years after Yahoo! Sports' ThePostGame originally reported on Lewis and other elite athletes' ties to the substance.
Lewis hammered Ross at a Wednesday morning media conference here, calling it "embarrassing" that Ross, whose name Lewis refuses to say out loud, could hijack the media narrative of the week.
"I've said it before, I've said it a million times, the reason I'm smiling because it is so funny and absurd," Lewis said. "I never ever took what he said or whatever I was supposed to. And it's sad that someone could have such attention on this stage.
"I don't need it. My teammates don't need it. The 49ers don't need it. Nobody needs it."
Ross told SI that Lewis made a quick comeback from a midseason injury to help the Ravens' run to the Super Bowl because of his products. There is some medical dispute, however, whether it would even have worked.
Regardless, the NFL is not going to suspend Lewis for the big game and Lewis has said he will retire afterward. This is a story that won't linger, but it is creating drama in a week of mostly praise and class between the two teams.
That, Lewis said, is his No. 1 problem with the report.
"I think honestly and I'm going to say this very clearly, I think it's one of the most embarrassing things we can do on this kind of stage," Lewis said. "I think it takes the focus away.
"To entertain foolishness like this from a coward, it's sad … It's foolish. It's very foolish. The guy has no credibility. He's been sued four or five times over this same b.s. Just entertaining. I can't, I won't and I just truly believe he doesn't have the privilege for me to speak about him ever again. "
Lewis' coaches and teammates rallied behind him and said they pay no heed to the report. They cite his incredible work ethic and dedication to his recovery as well as his ability to play 17 seasons in the NFL.
John Harbaugh said he asked Lewis about it and the future Hall of Famer said the accusation was baseless.
"He kind of laughed about it and said there's nothing to it," Harbaugh said. "Ray is honest. Ray is straightforward."
There's corroborating evidence that there is more to the story than one man's word. But it's not an issue that's ever going to be ruled on. Lewis said he tells his teammates all the time to ignore what people on the outside of the organization think and say, advice that's paramount now.
"That's the trick of the devil," he said.
Lewis was strong in his comments and vowed that this wouldn't matter. He just wants to play his final game.
"[I'm] never angry," he said. "I'm too blessed to be stressed. You can use a different word, agitated. I'm agitated because I'm here to win a Super Bowl. I'm not here to entertain someone who doesn't respect that one way or the other.
"Angry? Anything from the outside could never affect me this weekend."
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