The media love fest of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis this offseason has hit an all-time high, thanks to his late-season announcement of his retirement after this season. Many are hoping that Lewis is able to ride off into the sunset with a victory in Super Bowl XLVII and truly make his Hall of Fame career that much more impressive.
Before he's able to achieve that, there is a bit of new controversy surrounding Lewis. In the middle of the season this year, Lewis tore his triceps and was forced to miss a good portion of the year. He returned for the postseason and then announced his impending retirement. According to a report by ProFootballTalk, Lewis may have taken an NFL-banned substance during his recovery of that injury.
According to Sports Illustrated, Lewis contacted a company owned by a former male stripper toobtain a deer-antler velvet extract after tearing his triceps in October. Mitch Ross of S.W.A.T.S reportedly videotaped the phone call from Lewis.
"Spray on my elbow every two hours?" Lewis asked Ross regarding the extract, via Philly.com.
"No," Ross said. "Under your tongue." Later, 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 problem for Lewis is that the extract contains IGF-1, which is on the NFL’s list of banned substances. For the NFL, the problem is that Lewis will retire after Sunday. So there’s really nothing that can be done — unless Lewis admits to it on Tuesday and the league puts the investigative process into the highest gear possible.
IGF-1 stands for "Insulin-Like Growth Factor" and is a protein linked to growth, recovery and even used in cancer treatments. If you do a search on IGF-1 on a major search engine, you'll also see different variations of it being sold on nutrition and bodybuilding websites.
As PFT reports, even if Lewis is found to have used a banned substance, it's very unlikely that he'll face any repercussions, especially since he is retiring after the big game. It will be interesting to see if more is made about this issue, or if it will be swept under the rug to continue the "feel good story" surrounding Lewis' swan song.
UPDATE: The Ravens made an official statement saying that Lewis did not take any banned substance and Lewis refuses to address the subject. ESPN has a video: