Even though he said, “I didn’t use that stuff” today, the Ray Lewis deer-antler-spray story is going to linger around New Orleans for the rest of the week.
As I move around radio row here in the Convention Center, I hear station after station talking about it and most, not surprisingly, have found Lewis guilty of using the concoction even though the future Hall of Famer continues to say he didn’t.
I’m not stunned by that. I’ve grown skeptical of all athletes, honestly. As I wrote yesterday here at WNST.net, nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to what an athlete might take or use or rub on his body. And, let’s face it, just because a player says “I didn’t take that” — it doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans these days.
Now, let me tell you what I THINK happened with Ray Lewis in this saga. I capatilized the words THINK because I want to stress, as always, that this is what I believe took place. I “think” this happened. And I’ve pieced this together based on the things we’ve seen Ray admit to in the SI.Com piece, even though we can always simply say, “Just because a guy said something…it doesn’t actually mean that’s what happened.”
OK, so here goes my theory.
For starters, as I’ll reiterate often, I believe Ray Lewis when he says he didn’t use deer antler spray. I can, though, admit that it’s easy to play the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” game with this story because Lewis has a history with the folks at S.W.A.T.S.
Ray has admitted to being introduced to the S.W.A.T.S. company through former Ravens QB coach Hue Jackson. He admitted to using some of their products in the past – things like “pain stickers” and other alternative forms of therapy that aren’t at all illegal and have been widely used by players in the NFL for years now.
So, in fairness here, there’s at least a legitimate connection between Ray Lewis and the people at S.W.A.T.S. He has “done business” with them in the past.
Now, that does NOT mean he used the deer antler spray in question. What it DOES mean is that Ray Lewis has used other products of the company that makes the deer antler spray. There’s no real proof that Ray did anything wrong or used a banned substance. There is proof that he’s done business with the S.W.A.T.S. people — that proof comes from Ray Lewis, who has admitted to that.
So, here’s my guess on how all of this unraveled.
Nothing could be more important to Mitch Ross and the folks at S.W.A.T.S. than to have people in the world of sports serve as endorsers or supporters of their products. Because the NFL advised all league personnel to “distance themselves” from S.W.A.T.S. back in 2010, there’s no way any player could or would sign a legal, paid endorsement deal with the company — even for something as benign as a light that you shine on an injured body part to assist with a more speedy recovery.
So, for Ross, the next best thing – and perhaps even more believable by the American public – is to have a player casually mention or somehow connect himself (herself) with S.W.A.T.S.
Ross has admitted publicly that his goal was to have Ray Lewis – in lieu of having to pay for the products – mention S.W.A.T.S. when questions came up about how quickly he recovered from his torn triceps injury.
That, in my mind, was “the deal” they either struck or, perhaps, the deal Mitch Ross “thought” he struck with Lewis.
Either way, instead of paying for the products, a fair quid pro quo for S.W.A.T.S. would have been Ray Lewis mentioning their role in his recovery.
Ray spoke to the media on Wednesday, January 2 and informed the world he was retiring at the completion of the season. That story, alone, was the ONLY thing the media discussed for the next three days as a lead up to the Colts-Ravens game in Baltimore. No one questioned Ray at all about his comeback or how he did it or anything else. “Retirement” was the only topic of the day.
With no mention at all about S.W.A.T.S., my guess is Mitch Ross was disappointed. He likely reached out to Ray and said, “Hey, I thought we had a deal?” For whatever reason, given ample opportunity in the next two weeks, Lewis still didn’t give S.W.A.T.S. a mention. That, I assume, led Ross to go on the attack and leak the story to SI.Com, which would give him the publicity he thought he had bargained for with Lewis and, at the same time, would prove to Ray and any other NFL players that a deal is a deal is a deal. “I’ll give you my products and help you recover more quickly — and you’ll save $10,000 a pop — but you have to do your part and mention S.W.A.T.S. somehow to the media.”
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