Last night, when NBC discussed the HGH allegations made recently against Peyton Manning, Rodney Harrison of Football Night in America gave raw, compelling remarks about his own experience with the substance. On Monday night, ESPN employed a similar tactic with Ray Lewis.
In the days preceding Super Bowl XLVII, a report emerged in Sports Illustrated linking Ray Lewis to the use of deer antler spray during recovery from a torn triceps muscle. The spray contains IGF-1, which is on the NFL’s list of banned substances.
So after playing a piece of Manning’s on-camera interview from Sunday with Lisa Salters and getting the latest from Chris Mortensen and reminding everyone that the guy who was recorded talking about Manning using HGH has recanted the story (in a chronically dismissive way that incorrectly links recanting with falsity), Suzy Kolber said this to Ray Lewis from the desk on the field at Mile High Stadium, where the Bengals play the Broncos on Monday night: “Ray, at the tail end of your career, there were accusations that you used performance enhancing drugs. What is the best way to go about handling something like this?”
The full response from Ray Lewis, directed to Kolber, Steve Young, and Trent Dilfer, appears below.
“First of all, I think my situation’s a little bit different because I said this was my last ride. And I’ve always been kind of one to pay attention to fiery darts. And so I think what people needs [sic] to understand — I understand Peyton’s frustration because legacies are sweat driven. And I’ll be durned [sic] if a liar or a coward will ever take away what me, myself, Steve Young, Peyton Manning has ever done in this game. Like, that’s the only sad part about this is that you let these people in, and then they run. This guy says all of this during my Super Bowl [week] and then you never hear from them again.
“But we give them access to what greatness really is, and greatness hurts. It hurts every freaking day. And it hurts worse when somebody tries to tell you that you cheated the game. I get Peyton, man, and from my perspective I’ve never done nothing like that and that’s what’s embarrassing that I did it for my teammates, man, and that’s what’s bothering Peyton right now is that for him to be trying to get back, bro, right? Do everything he can. And nobody knows what that takes. Nobody knows the sacrifices you leave your family. Nobody knows what you go through.”
It’s not entirely clear what Ray said, but he definitely didn’t answer the question regarding the “best way to go about handling something like this.” Which means that Lewis probably should have been asked a different question.
Which suggests that the planning and production for the entire segment was, to put it tactfully, less than ideal.