NEW ORLEANS — Ravens coach John Harbaugh says star linebacker Ray Lewis assured him “there’s nothing to” a magazine report linking him to a company that makes deer-antler spray containing a banned performance enhancer.
Harbaugh said Wednesday morning he spoke with Lewis. The coach said Lewis “knows there is nothing to it. He understands it’s something he’s never been involved in.”
On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated reported that Lewis sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis missed 10 games with the injury.
“He laughed about it,” Harbaugh said, referring to Lewis. “He told me there’s nothing to it. He’s told us in the past and now that he has never taken any of it.”
Baltimore plays the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday in the final game of Lewis’ career.
On Tuesday, Lewis declined to directly address in any detail the questions raised by the Sports Illustrated report that he sought help from Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS).
The 37-year-old Lewis, who has announced he will retire after playing against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, dismissed the report as “stupidity.”
Sport Illustrated reported that SWATS owner Mitch Ross recorded a call with Lewis hours after the player hurt his arm in an October game against Dallas. According to the report, Lewis asked Ross to send him deer-antler spray and pills, along with other products made by the company.
The magazine also said that when it spoke to Lewis for its story, he acknowledged asking Ross for “some more of the regular stuff” on the night of the injury and that he has been associated with the company “for a couple years through Hue Jackson.”
Jackson is a former Ravens quarterbacks coach — and later head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Two years ago he stopped endorsing SWATS because his ties to the company violated NFL rules.
“That was a 2-year-old story that you want me to refresh … so I won’t even speak about it,” Lewis said Tuesday. “Because I’ve been in this business 17 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 of if I ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that. …”
The NFL didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah declined comment.