NEW ORLEANS -- Ray Lewis smiled at times when answering questions for a second straight day about a report that he took a banned substance to heal quicker from surgery this season. But you got a sense that he was ticked off. Or, as the Ravens linebacker put it, he's agitated.
"The reason why I'm smiling is because it's so funny of a story," Lewis said "I've never, ever took what he says I was supposed to do. It's just sad that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big, where the dreams are really real. I don't need it, my teammates don't need it, the 49ers don't need it. Nobody needs it, because it just really shows you that people really plan things and try to attack people from the outside. It's just very foolish. The guy has no credibility."
In these playoffs, we've seen Lewis weeping and we've seen Lewis praying. When Lewis spoke to reporters Wednesday, it was a different No. 52 on stage. He had a defiance about him. He had more of an edge.
It was the same way in the Super Bowl 12 years ago, when Lewis faced constant questioning about the double murder case in Atlanta. He took out his frustrations on the New York Giants.
Reporters asked Lewis and Ravens coach John Harbaugh whether this will affect the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Ravens know they're not getting a distracted Ray Lewis. They're getting a determined one.
"He's a singularly focused individual," Harbaugh said. "He understands what's important is our football team heading into Sunday."
A few hours before Tuesday's media day, a Sports Illustrated report surfaced that Lewis used a banned substance to help heal his torn triceps. Mitch Ross, a co-owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS), told the magazine that he prescribed a program to help Lewis' recovery that included taking a regimen of deer-antler pills and spraying deer-antler extract under the tongue every two hours.
A reporter told Lewis that he seemed angry in answering questions. "I'm never angry," Lewis said. "I'm too blessed to be stressed."
Harbaugh said Lewis laughed about the matter in their conversation.
"[Lewis] told me there is nothing to it," Harbaugh said. "Ray's honest. Ray's straight-forward. He's told us in the past and 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. It's just too bad that has to be something that gets so much play."
Perhaps the bigger question is whether this allegation will hurt the focus of the players. Harbaugh told his team this week that the team with the fewest distractions will win.
"As a football team, it's not even a factor for us," Harbaugh said.
Lewis said this has served as one of his final lessons to teammates.
"Don't let people from the outside ever come and try to disturb what's inside," he said. "There's no man that's ever trained as hard as our team has trained. There's no man that's went through what we went through. So, to give somebody credit that doesn't deserve credit, that would be a slap in the face for everything that we went through."
Lewis added, "I've been in this game for 17-plus good years, and I have a heck of relationship and too much respect for the business and my body to ever violate like that. For me and my teammates, I promise you that we have a strong group of men that don't bend too much, and we keep pushing forward. So, it's not a distraction for us."