Lewis receives 'antler' apology

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 - 8:21 am

NEW ORLEANS – The owner of a company that manufactures deer-antler spray and says it helps athletes recover more quickly from injuries issued an apology on Friday to the Baltimore Ravens and linebacker Ray Lewis.

A Sports Illustrated story published this week implied that Mitch Ross, who owns a company called S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternatives To Steroids), provided the spray to Lewis to promote healing of his triceps injury.

The spray contains a substance called IGF-1, which is banned under the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.

Lewis, who was out from the middle of October until the start of the playoffs with the injury, vigorously denied ever using the spray and said he never has failed an NFL test for PEDs.

"I never saw Ray put (the spray) in his mouth," Ross said in an impromptu news briefing outside the Super Bowl XLVII media center. "I want to apologize to any athletes that this story hurt."

Ross said he met Lewis in 2008 through former Ravens assistant coach Hue Jackson. He also said he gave other players what he called "chips," a new technology that he said improves athletes' performance.

The "chips" are not ingested and are not in violation of the league's PED policy.

"Ray Lewis is a great man," Ross said. "Hue Jackson is a hero for starting to work with me in 2008. I'm here to tell you that natural IGF-1 rebuilds brain tissue. I did not walk in the Ravens' door with deer spray. I walked in with chips."

Ross said his client list included New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford, but Weatherford denied any connection to Ross.

"I've never met the guy in my life," Weatherford said in an interview with Newsday. "I've never spoken to him."

Weatherford said he has contacted an attorney.

It takes two (running backs) – Baltimore is a win away from its second Super Bowl title for many reasons, but the development of rookie Bernard Pierce late in the season and through the playoffs (27 carries for 169 yards in the postseason) has given the team a complement to all-pro running back Ray Rice.

"You have to have two, possibly three running backs in the mix of your whole scheme," said Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, a two-time Pro Bowl player in the late 1970s.

"This is not a one running back league now … your star running back is going to take a lot of licks."

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