NEW ORLEANS — Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis calls his final NFL season his "last ride." So far, it's been anything but a smooth ride for a player revered by some and reviled by others.
On Wednesday, Lewis kicked off his daily news conference addressing a Sports Illustrated report about him allegedly using a banned substance to help him recover from a torn right triceps earlier this season.
Lewis missed 10 regular-season games because of the injury, but he returned in time for the Ravens first playoff game.
He announced his plan to retire after the Super Bowl just before the Ravens played their first playoff game.
Yet, rather than bask in the spotlight in the run up to the Super Bowl, Lewis is spending some of his time answering questions about his alleged use of a deer antler-spray that contains a substance banned by the NFL.
The report said Lewis called Sports with Alternatives to Steroids owner Mitch Ross hours after Lewis suffered his injury and asked Ross to send him deer-antler spray and pills, as well as other products manufactured by the company.
"This is probably one of the most embarrassing things we can do on this type of stage," Lewis said Wednesday. "You give someone the ability to come into our world. Our world is a very secret society, and we try to protect our world as much as we can.
"But when you let cowards come into and do things like that, to try to disturb something ... I never, ever took what (the writer) said. ... It's just sad that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big, where the dreams are really real."
Lewis dismissed the report and said that it's taking away from the Ravens and 49ers in the biggest game of the year.
"I don't need it, my teammates don't need, the 49ers don't need it, nobody needs it," Lewis said, "because it just shows you how people really plan things to try to attack people from the outside. It's just foolish. It's very foolish.
Lewis said he has too much respect for the NFL and his body to get involved with performance-enhancers.
Through it all, Lewis said, the Ravens remain focused, and they aren't distracted by the report.
"It's not," Lewis said, when asked if it's a distraction. "It's a joke, if you know me. I tell (my teammates) all the time, this is what I try to teach them. Don't let people from the outside ever come in and try to disturb what's inside. That's the trick of the devil. The trick of the devil is to kill, steal and destroy."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday that he spoke with Lewis about the report and that he believes Lewis when he says that he isn't guilty of taking the substance.
"He said there's nothing to it," Harbaugh said. "Ray's honest, Ray's straightforward. He's told us in the past, he's told us now, that he's never taken any of that stuff, ever. I believe Ray. I trust Ray completely. We have a relationship. I know this man. I know what he's all about."