NEW ORLEANS -- When a team doctor told Ray Lewis in October that his season was over because of a torn triceps, the linebacker bristled.
Told no player had ever returned from the injury in the same season, Lewis responded, "Well, you know nobody's ever been Ray Lewis, either.' "
Lewis stated this matter-of-factly during the Super Bowl XLVII Media Day Tuesday, ascribing his unprecedented comeback to the dint of hard work, faith and perseverance.
Meanwhile, a Sports Illustrated story that surfaced on Tuesday alleges Lewis had a lot more help than that:
Hours after he tore his triceps during an Oct. 14 home game against the Cowboys, Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and (Mitch) 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."The deer antler extract, according to the article, contains a banned substance called IGF-1.
There were a number of questions posed to Lewis about the article on Tuesday. He dismissed them all.
In one response, Lewis said, "It's a two-year-old story that you want me to refresh. I wouldn't give him the credit to either mention his name or his antics in my speeches or my moment. I can't do it. I've been in this business 17 years and nobody has got up with me every morning and trained with me. Every test I 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 go try get his story somewhere else."
When I asked Lewis directly if he used deer antler extract to recover from his triceps injury this season, Lewis answered, "Nawwww, never."
With memories of Lance Armstrong coming clean after years denying he used PEDs, Lewis' boasting of making an unprecedented comeback from an injury suffered less than three months before making a return invites cynicism.
He's brazen about it. Given what we've learned about athletes' commitment to denying PED use until they're forced to give up the goods, it's not unusual either.
Lewis is reveling in the glory and attention he's being showered with this week as he heads toward his final NFL game. The use of the phrase "my speeches or my moment" is indicative of how he views his last turn on the big stage as a player.
Lewis seems to believe folks will suspend disbelief. The inertia of his story will carry the day.
You felt it when he recounted his meeting with the Ravens' doctor.
"I said, 'Doc, you sure?' I said, 'Nahhh. Doc, there's no way I'm gonna be out for the year with just a torn tricep,' " Lewis recalled. "I said, 'I've been through way worse.' He was like, 'Ray, nobody's ever came back from this.' I said, 'Well, you know, nobody's ever been Ray Lewis either.' I kinda made up my mind, as soon as I head that news I called Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome the next day and I said, 'Oz, don't put me on (injured reserve).' He said, 'What's on your mind?' I said, 'I'll be back.'
And back he has come. How?
"I take all lows and I took them to a positive very quickly," he explained. "I took what was supposed to be a career ending thing if you listen to certain writers and things and I took it and I used it as my motivation."