NEW ORLEANS -- The Baltimore Ravens don’t intend to let the controversy surrounding linebacker Ray Lewis become a distraction in their preparation for the Super Bowl.
An article in Sports Illustrated said Lewis sought help from a company that says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a banned product connected to human growth hormone.
"We can’t let that distract us from our one true mission, winning the Super Bowl," Baltimore running back Ray Rice said Wednesday, shortly before the Ravens hit the practice field to prepare for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Minutes earlier, Lewis said he "never, ever" used performance-enhancing drugs in his effort to return from a torn right triceps. He also distanced himself from Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS).
The Ravens are standing behind the 37-year-old Lewis, who sat out 12 weeks before returning to fuel the Ravens’ playoff run. He will end his 17-year career after the Super Bowl.
"Ray is an awesome guy and we’re here to play football. We don’t even want to give that [report] any merit," Baltimore guard Bobbie Williams said. "It’s kind of sad that they would try to discredit a guy who’s done so much and been such a big influence not only to this team but the National Football League. Here we are just a couple of days away from the Super Bowl and they try to do this right here. We just really want to just stay away from that."
Coach John Harbaugh also backed Lewis, saying, "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."
So do Lewis’ teammates.
"No one has not passed a test and no one has tested positive for anything, so it’s all speculation," linebacker and special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo said. "There’s information and disinformation. If you have a little intelligence you can dissect it and keep it moving."