At a time when Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis vehemently has denied any use of banned substances in connection with his recovery from a torn triceps or at any other time in his 17-year career, a former Ravens assistant has confirmed that he introduced Lewis to the owner of Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.).
The confirmation from Hue Jackson, now the Bengals running backs coach, came via Jackson’s apology for making the connection between the two men.
“First of all, I’m disappointed for the Ravens,” Jackson told Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “You hate to ever put an organization in that kind of situation. I never knew the young man [Ross] could be that way. I apologize for the whole organization. It should be about the Super Bowl. I met the guy at the [NFL] combine in 2008. . . .
“I don’t get this because we’ve already addressed all of this before,” Jackson said. “It’s just not right. I feel very bad for making a mistake and bringing this guy around Ray and the other players.
“I regret that ever happened. You trust people sometimes, and they let you down. This is an absolute shame because it should be about football, not this stuff. . . .
“What happened is you think everybody is doing things for the right reason. I knew there was nothing illegal based on information given by him. He always talked about things, saying they were already approved by the NFL. You live and you learn. I dealt with that two years ago. Anytime it comes up, my name is mentioned.”
In addressing the situation, Lewis has invoked the “two years ago” explanation, overlooking the fact that Mitch Ross, the owner of S.W.A.T.S., contends that Lewis contacted Ross in October 2012, after Lewis tore his triceps against the Cowboys. According to Sports Illustrated, the call was videotaped. According to Ross, he contacted Lewis immediately after the game.
“As soon as I saw him hurt his arm against the Dallas Cowboys, I texted Ray,” Ross told Wilson. “He texted me back after the game and said, ‘Possible torn triceps.’ Once that was confirmed by the doctors, I asked Ray if he wanted me to set up a program for him and he said, ‘Yes.’ I got him set up and now he’s back on the field.”
The problem with the various media availabilities during Super Bowl week is that there’s no one interviewer who can ask specific questions with meaningful follow-ups. Once the player or coach answers a question, there’s a likelihood that some other reporter will ask some other question. This allows Lewis to avoid a situation in which he’s grilled in detail about the communications with Ross, the phone conversation, and any other specific information linking the two men not two years ago but three months ago.
In the grand scheme of things, none of it matters, since there’s no way Lewis would ever be suspended before Sunday’s game. But there’s definitely a cloud over Lewis that won’t be pushed away simply because Lewis has issued a general denial without specific elaboration on the underlying contentions and allegations.