NEW ORLEANS – Ray Lewis is “agitated.”
Not because the Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker thinks the magazine report linking him to a company that purports to make performance-enhancers will affect his play or that of his teammates against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl — the final game of a 17-year NFL career that most assume will earn him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Rather, Lewis did not want to spend time discussing the subject in private with his head coach or in public with the media, as he did Wednesday, when his forceful denials — and attacks on the owner of the supplement company — meant the matter intruded for a second consecutive day on his retirement send-off.
“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. “I don’t need it. My teammates don’t need it. The 49ers don’t need it. Nobody needs it.”
He smiled widely when the first question at his media session was about the topic — surely, he figured it was coming — then chuckled later while addressing it. Known for his frequent references to God and faith, Lewis called the whole episode a “joke” and a “trick of the devil,” adding that he told teammates: “Don’t let people from the outside ever come and try to disturb what’s inside.”
Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that Lewis sought help from a company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), which says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a naturally occurring banned product connected to human growth hormone. The 37-year-old Lewis, the MVP of the 2001 Super Bowl, is the leading tackler in the NFL postseason after returning from a torn right triceps that sidelined him for 10 games.
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.
On Wednesday, Lewis called Ross a coward and said he “has no credibility.”
Told by a reporter that he seemed angry, Lewis replied: “Me? Never angry. I’m too blessed to be stressed. Nah. You’re not angry. You can use a different word. You can use the word ‘agitated,’ because I’m here to win the Super Bowl. I’m not here to entertain somebody that does not affect that one way or another.”
IN A SEASON that began with criticism of replacement refs, the NFL found itself dealing with questions about the qualifications of its lead official for the Super Bowl.
Jerome Boger, a member of NFL officiating crews for nine years, will be the referee Sunday in his first NFL title game amid accusations by a former official-turned-broadcaster that the league doctored his rating.
Boger has worked four divisional playoff games, including the San Francisco 49ers’ victory over Green Bay this year. He entered the league as a line judge in 2004 and was promoted to referee in 2006. He is only the second black referee to work the title game, following Mike Carey five years ago.
His impending selection was criticized earlier this week by Jim Daopoulos, who was quoted in The New York Times as saying the grading of some officials, including Boger, was altered.
Daopoulos worked 11 years as an on-field official and 12 years as a supervisor before joining NBC as an analyst.
THE CHORUS from Sandy Hook Elementary School will sing “America the Beautiful” before Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The chorus features 26 children from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage.
The performance will be part of CBS’s pregame show, and will be broadcast live.
COLTS: Indianapolis signed Arena Football League receiver Jeremy Kelley to a reserve-future contract.
Kelley played four seasons at UMaine, where he had 13 receptions for 148 yards and one TD, and returned one punt for 10 yards.
Kelley made 19 catches for 231 yards with seven TDs for the Utah Blaze last season. He played the previous year with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, catching two passes for 15 yards.
SEAHAWKS: Linebacker Leroy Hill was arrested after police say he assaulted his girlfriend and kept her in his home against her will.
It’s at least the fourth time Hill, 30, has been arrested and the second time he’s been accused of domestic violence.