NEW ORLEANS -- Smiling, even laughing, at questions about a report linking him to a company that purports to make performance-enhancers, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said Wednesday he "never, ever took" the stuff.
Lewis described himself as "agitated," not angry, that the story has become part of the Super Bowl-week prelude to Baltimore's game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
He added that he's certain his teammates won't be distracted by the report in Sports Illustrated. The magazine said Lewis sought help from a company that says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a banned product connected to human growth hormone. The 37-year-old Lewis is the leading tackler in the NFL post-season after returning from a torn right triceps that sidelined him for 10 games.
In a private conversation with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, and later in the public setting of a news conference, Lewis distanced himself from Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS). SI reported that company 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 items made by the company.
"It's so funny of a story because I never, ever took what he says or whatever I was supposed to do. And it's just sad once again that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big, where the dreams are really real," Lewis said Wednesday.
"I don't need it. My teammates don't need it. The 49ers don't need it. Nobody needs it."
The magazine reported 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."
Lewis' stance Wednesday was different.
"He told me there's nothing to it... He's told us in the past, he's told us now, that he's never taken any of that stuff, ever. And I believe Ray. I trust Ray completely. We have a relationship. I know this man. And I know what he's all about," Harbaugh said. "It's just too bad it has to be something that gets so much play."
-- The Associated Press