JOE BIDDLE: Spotlight on Ray Lewis at Media Day

JOE BIDDLE: Spotlight on Ray Lewis at Media Day (Image 1)

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis always takes center stage. He's a media magnet.

If you can't draw a crowd at Super Bowl Media Day, you better check to see if you have a pulse.

Some 5,600 media credentials were issued for Super Bowl XLVII (47 for the Roman numeral impaired).

And what would a Super Bowl Media Day marathon be without controversy?

There was Lewis, repeatedly asked to respond to a Sports Illustrated Web site report that Lewis ordered a banned substance to speed up the healing process after he suffered a torn triceps muscle.

Lewis was thought to be out for the rest of the season, but he returned after only 10 weeks, just in time for the playoffs.

The article identified the banned substance as deer antler velvet extract. Having never had the pleasure of using deer antler velvet extract, I can't vouch for its medicinal magic.

Lewis strongly denied he has ever used deer antler velvet extract, or any other illegal performance-enhancing drug.

He claimed he has never failed an NFL drug test at any time during his 17-year NFL career and Ravens Coach John Harbaugh backed him up.

Does the name Lance Armstrong come to mind? It does for me.

Armstrong lived a lie for years. Like Lewis, he denied ever using PEDs while winning an unprecedented seven Tour de France yellow jerseys.

Armstrong also claimed he never flunked a drug test.

The world-class liar/cheater finally came clean on Oprah. He bared his soul in hope of saving his fortune he collected from the competition and its worldwide monetary benefits.

Maybe Lewis should ring up Oprah — after the Super Bowl, of course. The 37-year-old Lewis has announced Sunday's game will be his final NFL game. It will be a perfect time to put the capper on what has been a Hall of Fame career.

Lewis looks the part. He has the classic middle linebacker physique and the mental toughness to endure the physical punishment.

His muscles have muscles. His arms are more imposing than California redwood trees. I have seen football players who later admitted they used human growth hormones or steroids. They look like Ray Lewis. Rather, he looks like them.

But Lewis is also a master of slipping out of tight spots. There is no better evidence than the night of the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta where the Titans lost to the Rams.

Riding in a rented stretch limousine with Lewis were a number of his homeboys, two of whom purchased large knives just hours before two stabbing victims were left lying in pools of blood outside the Cobalt Lounge. They would later die.

Lewis and two of his friends would go to trial. Prosecuting attorneys fumbled the case.  Lewis spent 10 days in jail on a obstruction of justice charge. Everyone else walked.

That case also prompted questions at Media Day.

“Everybody here has a past,'' Lewis said. “What's important is what you do with the future.

“I look ahead. I don't look back.''

Lewis has since turned his life around. He now quotes scripture, voraciously prays. Once a sinner, now a saint? That's what he leads you to believe.

Lewis is a 60-minute football game away from riding off in the sunset. But it's not just any football game. It's the Super Bowl, the ultimate goal every football player dreams about.

Lewis will continue to stiff-arm the questions, scoff at the innuendos. Just like in Lance Armstrong's case, if Lewis did break the rules, the truth will eventually bubble to the surface.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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