Ray Lewis and Deer-Antler Extract? WTF?

Photo Credit: NFL/CBS

Photo Credit: NFL/CBS


The big news coming out of yesterday’s media day in the Superdome was of course that Randy Moss is the greatest wide receiver of all time. Well, at least according to Randy Moss, and in case you were too enthralled with this one-man debate to catch anything else, you may have missed another minor story about a player not quite as great as Mr. Moss: Ray Lewis.

Ray Lewis may have used a substance banned by the NFL to help his rehab while recovering from a torn triceps muscle. This could undoubtedly be the biggest question of Lewis’ Hall of Fame career, besides where he learned his pregame dance. Poor Scholars’ Scott Phillips described the Ray Lewis dance as, “(Ray) just starts shuffling violently like he’s become possessed by the NFL Concussion Gods.”

For the record, my money is that he was inspired by the greatest boxing entrance of all time: Little Richie and Apollo Creed in the beginning of Rocky IV. Actually, maybe that’s where he got the idea to take these PEDs (allegedly). The only man who could stop Ivan Drago was Rocky and I don’t think he’s currently playing in the NFL.

But before we get ahead of ourselves with the whole “did he or didn’t he take PEDs” argument, let’s get to the facts. (As of this moment, Ray Lewis has come out denying the reports. For the record however, so did this guy and we all know how that story played out…)

Yesterday during media day, Ray Lewis was asked about an upcoming  article written by Sports Illustrated revolving around his ties to a company called S.W.A.T.S. (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids) and his use of a substance called “deer-antler velvet extract” during his recovery from the aforementioned torn triceps that Lewis suffered in an Oct 14th game against the Dallas Cowboys.

What exactly is “deer-antler velvet extract”?

Well according to the NFL, deer-antler extract contains a banned substance known as IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). IGF-1 is a hormone that promotes muscle growth and prevents cell death that would, in effect, decrease recovery time. This would certainly explain Ray Lewis’ miraculous comeback from his torn triceps in such a quick time frame. His quick recovery had to have raised flags within many inner circles of the NFL; my guess though is that most people were too afraid of Ray Lewis to bring it up. I certainly would be considering this is a guy who was once questioned in the murder of two people. Deer-antler extract can be found in two forms on S.W.A.T.S.’s website; in spray form and pill form. Mitch Ross, a co-owner of S.W.A.T.S. alleges that Lewis took both:

              Ross prescribed a deluxe program [for Lewis], 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.

As you can see Mitch Ross is quoted as saying he took the pills and spray form along with doing something that included holographic stickers and some king of super “beam-ray light.” I understand the pills and spray (which is sprayed directly under the tongue), but the rest of those claims are definitely lost on me.

If Ray Lewis did indeed take a product containing a banned substance, surely he would have failed a drug test. Well actually, the reports are that he has passed all of his random drug tests. The problem with this as proof that Lewis is innocent is that while the NFL Players Association says they do test for IGF-1, it is not detectable in the current testing methods. This is akin to saying, “sure it is banned but if you do use it there is no way for us to catch you. “

(Quick side note here: I am not a professional athlete and I am sure that drug testing policies are very stringent in most of our major sports — when I say most I am excluding boxing — but the tests are flawed. Personally, I know several people who have used urine that was not theirs to pass drug tests. For example, when I was in college I had a teammate who needed clean urine. One of our friends pissed in a cup in a student common area bathroom and my friend, who shall not be named, used it to pass a drug test performed by our athletic department. If a 20-year old college kid can cheat a drug test, surely pro athletes can find a loop if there is one. Lance Armstrong certainly did.)

While you are entitled to your own opinion about Ray Lewis — and in America it is “innocent until proven guilty,” — it’s also fair to question the merits of Mr. Ross’ claims. Case in point — in my mind at least — is that Mitch Ross reportedly used to be a male stripper. Usually I don’t like to pass judgment on someone’s character based on something like this — and sure every now and then a male stripper grows up to become Channing Tatum — but in this case I think it is a relevant point. This tidbit coupled with the fact that this guy is one of S.W.A.T.S.’s clients, who is giving them a positive testimonial, gives credence to the idea that S.W.A.T.S. and co-owner Mitch Ross are sketchy at best.

There is also the report from a few years ago linking former Raiders head coach, Hue Jackson, to Ross. This relationship was said to have started while he was an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens.

                 S.W.A.T.S. owner Mitch Ross told ThePostGame.com he met Jackson at the NFL Combine in 2008 and forged a relationship. Ross said he supplied Jackson with free products, which he said were then distributed to players – including Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis. Ross also said he gave the spray to Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams and two assistant NFL coaches, Anthony Lynn of the New York Jets and Jay Hayes of the Bengals.

This previous report certainly gives Mitch Ross’s current claims some credibility.

As stated previously after reviewing the facts, at least the ones we currently have, you are entitled to form your own opinion on what actually happened. Personally, I am in the camp that believes he sprayed some deer-antler extract under his tongue. In my mind, the sheer brilliance of Ray Lewis doing this (if he did) is that the NFL can’t punish him; he’s retiring after this year!  Well played Mr. Lewis, well played.

Upon further review though, this is the biggest question of Ray Lewis’s career and we are all going to have to wait and see how this bizarre story plays out. My guess is he ends up on a two-part interview with Oprah.

Wait nevermind, an athlete taking PEDs? The outrage that one of the all-time greats, an icon of his sport, is associated with taking a banned substance; we’ve never heard this exposition before. Come on this doesn’t even come close to the mystery of what happened to Lewis’ white suit that fateful New Year’s Eve in 2000. Maybe the NFL can just brainwash everyone into forgetting this happened as well.

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