UPDATE (2:23 P.M. ET): Predictably, Lewis denied any involvement with S.W.A.T.S during his Media Day appearance, saying he’s never used deer-antler spray.
Look, we really need to pace ourselves here, people of the Super Bowl. It’s only Tuesday, and we’ve already had a tale of an argument which started with too much soy sauce and ended with underwear stealing. Now, for its next trick, Super Bowl week has given us illegal deer antler spray usage by one Ray Lewis.
That may or may not be a real thing, and while it’s absurdly awesome and makes me wonder about what other medical animal nectar we haven’t discovered yet (is it possible for goat fur to increase your sex drive? Asking for a friend…), there are clearly serious implications that come with a report about Lewis using some exotic banned substances to quickly recover from his torn triceps suffered back in early October.
Sports Illustrated examined the relationship between Lewis and a company called S.W.A.T.S (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids). This company has, um, creative ways to advance healing, and the SI report contains a phone conversation between Lewis and S.W.A.T.S owner Mitch Ross in which the two allegedly discussed a treatment program that involved — among other things — deer-antler spray. Not a joke.
Ross prescribed a deluxe program, including holographic stickers on the right elbow; copious quantities of the powder additive; sleeping in front of a beam-ray light programmed with frequencies for tissue regeneration and pain relief; drinking negatively charged water; a 10-per-day regimen of the deer-antler pills that will “rebuild your brain via your small intestines” (and which Lewis said he hadn’t been taking, then swallowed four during the conversation); and spritzes of deer-antler velvet extract (the Ultimate Spray) every two hours.
“Spray on my elbow every two hours?” Lewis asked.
“No,” Ross said, “under your tongue.”
Toward the end of the talk, Lewis asked Ross to “just pile me up and just send me everything you got, because I got to get back on this this week.”
So whatever, right? If Lewis wants to put deer-antler gunk in his mouth in addition to, say, penguin blood, so be it. He’s just…innovative? Progressive? A branded enemy of PETA?
But it is a big deal, and here’s why: the antler spray contains IGF-1, which is on the league’s list of banned substances. In another recorded conversation with an Alabama player (you know, people who record all of their phone conversations should be trusted without any doubt), a S.W.A.T.S rep explained how the deer antler stuff works, and where its sacred magic comes from.
In doing so, he also explained why it’s banned by the NFL. Something about growth hormones.
“It’s converted in the liver to IGF-1. IGF-1, or -insulin-like growth factor, is a natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth. “We have deer that we harvest out of New Zealand. Their antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth . . . because of the high concentration of IGF-1. We’ve been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue. . . . This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years, this is stuff from the Chinese.”
Oh good, we’re now into ancient Chinese medicine. If only there was some sort of media event today in which members of the press could ask Lewis about this allegation…