Lewis to end career on the greatest stage of all
Ray Lewis has denied allegations linking him to deer-antler spray containing a banned performance enhancer as he prepares for tomorrow's Super Bowl.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL:More than 70,000 people will attend Ray Lewis’s retirement party. Another 100 million or so will watch it on television. When the final game of one’s NFL career happens to be a Super Bowl, it is never going to be a low-key affair.
Lewis would not have it any other way. Every athlete dreams of walking away a champion but not all of them revel in the spotlight like the Baltimore Ravens linebacker. At 37 Lewis no longer dominates opponents as he once did but his capacity for capturing attention might be stronger than ever.
All eyes have been on Lewis since he announced this season would be his last. After 17 seasons, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and 13 trips to the NFL’s all-star game, the Pro Bowl, Lewis is recognised as one of the greatest linebackers of all time. As such, his retirement was always sure to garner plenty of publicity, yet his timing was also particular. Lewis informed team-mates of his decision four days before their play-off opener.
That game, against the Indianapolis Colts, was in Baltimore and Lewis wanted the opportunity to bid a proper farewell to the home fans. In doing so he ensured that Baltimore’s entire post-season run would be re-cast as the Ray Lewis Farewell Tour. Appointments with Indianapolis, Denver and New England were preceded by endless tributes and accolades. Team-mates and opponents lined up together to sing number 52’s praises.
Any of those games could have been Lewis’s last but the Ravens kept on winning – eventually setting up an appointment with the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl XLVII. Now he would have the chance to finish his career on the greatest stage of all.
But then the narrative took an unexpected twist. In an article published by Sports Illustrated on Tuesday Lewis was linked with doping – alleged to have obtained a supplement, made with deer velvet extract, which contained the banned substance IGF-1. The accusation came from Mitch Ross, who claimed to have supplied Lewis with the supplement and advised him on how it could aid his recovery from a torn triceps injury suffered in October.
Lewis dismissed the allegation, asserting that Ross, the owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, was simply trying to drum up cheap publicity. “It’s just sad that someone could have so much attention on a stage this big where the dreams are really real,” said Lewis. “I don’t need it. My team-mates don’t need it. The 49ers don’t need it.
“Nobody needs it because it just shows you how people plan things and try to attack people from the outside. The guy has no credibility. He’s been sued four or five times over the same BS.” This was, in Lewis’s words, “the trick of the devil”, trying to distract people’s minds away from what truly mattered.