Ray Lewis denies using antler spray

NEW ORLEANS -- Ray Lewis said Wednesday he was "agitated" due to the controversy over the magazine report linking him to a company that makes deer-antler spray containing a banned performance enhancer (IGF-1) and strongly denied using the product.

"I'm never angry. I'm too blessed to be stressed," the Baltimore Ravens linebacker said when told that he seemed 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 doesn't affect that one way or another. The word agitated is probably better."

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated reported that Lewis sought help from Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) -- a company that makes the unorthodox deer-antler spray, which is supposed to be sprayed under the tongue -- to speed his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis missed 10 games with the injury.

"Our world is a very secret society. We try to protect our world as much as we can," Lewis said. "When you let cowards come in and do things like that, to try to disturb something. I've said it before and I've said a million times, the reason why I'm smiling is because it's so funny of a story.

"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. He's been sued four or five times over this same BS. I just truly believe he doesn't have the privilege for me to speak about it ever again."

Ravens team president Dick Cass told ESPN that the Ravens' top brass met with Lewis on Tuesday night and urged him to issue a strong denial on Wednesday, to repeat what he told the organization on Tuesday: that he never used any of the substances he was accused of using in the SI report.

"We wanted him to issue a strong denial at media day; he didn't do that. He was very strong with us yesterday, and last night. We met with him last night and talked about issuing a strong denial today," Cass told ESPN.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday morning that he spoke with Lewis, and the linebacker "knows there is nothing to it. He understands it's something he's never been involved in."

"He laughed about it," Harbaugh said, referring to Lewis. "He told me there's nothing to it. He's told us in the past and now that he has never taken any of it."

Lewis said the Ravens aren't distracted due to the report.

"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," he said.

The NFL Players Association said the league does test for IGF-1, the banned substance found in deer-antler extract, but the NFL said it is not detectable with the league's current testing methods.

SWATS co-owner Mitch Ross detailed his interaction with Lewis in an interview Tuesday with ESPN Radio's "SVP and Russillo Show," saying he texted Lewis shortly after the linebacker was injured against the Cowboys on Oct. 14.

He told ESPN Radio that Lewis "used every product that I had."

"I even developed an armband that I developed to strengthen his triceps, and some liquid wraps that would help him heal as well," he said.

When asked why Lewis is denying using his products, Ross told ESPN Radio: "I guess [Lewis] is scared of Roger Goodell."

However, a professor at Johns Hopkins University told the Baltimore Sun that, despite SWATS' claims, there isn't an acceptable scientific way that IGF-1 can be delivered orally.

"If there were, a lot of people would be happy that they don't need to get shots anymore," Dr. Roberto Salvatori told the newspaper. "It's just simply not possible for it to come from a spray."

Christopher Key, a co-owner of SWATS, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the company removed from its website NFL players' endorsements because "all the players were given letters by the NFL two years ago saying they had to cease and desist and could not continue to do business with us anymore."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed that, but did not respond to other requests for comment about the company or Lewis' involvement.

Key said the deer-antler products made by SWATS "helped the body repair, regrow and rejuvenate" and that "you will never fail a drug test from taking our product."

In an emailed statement, Ross said: "It is the view of SWATS and Mitch Ross that the timing of information was unfortunate and misleading and was in no way intended to harm any athlete. We have always been about aiding athletes to heal faster and participate at an optimum level of play in a lawful and healthy manner. We never encourage the use of harmful supplements and/or dangerous drugs."

Information from ESPN.com AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley, ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio and The Associated Press was used in this report.