NEW ORLEANS -- Ray Lewis stopped admiring himself in the mirror for long enough to talk to the media Wednesday, and he will be pleased to hear that the experience was almost spiritual.
He said he is "too blessed to be stressed." He said he announced his retirement before the playoffs began not because he enjoys attention but because "I believe that you should give everybody a fair chance to say their goodbyes." Anyway, don't you worry about those goodbyes being a distraction, dear NFL fans, because as Lewis said, "For my retirement in the game, I haven't thought about it at all."
He also said questions about performance-enhancing drug use are "a trick of the devil," which makes me wonder how he reacts when the NFL requests a urine sample. Does he hold it in, on religious grounds?
There is no stopping the Ray train at this point, people. There isn't even a train station. The Ray train just goes around in glorious circles, over and over again.
He has decided there will be no negative stories about him, and how can you argue with that? Show him a line of criticism and he'll show you a righteous path. Even when Wes Welker's wife basically called him a horrible human being, that just gave Ray a chance to forgive her.
Lewis has been ensnared in a controversy this week about performance-enhancing drugs, which would alarm a lot of athletes but probably doesn't faze a man who was once accused (and acquitted) of double murder. According to an excellent SI story by my colleagues David Epstein and George Dohrmann, in October Lewis spoke on the phone with Mitch Ross, director of a controversial Alabama-based company called Sports with Alternatives to Steroids.
On the phone call, Lewis talked about Ross' hologram stickers, which supposedly improve strength, balance and flexibility, and deer antler spray, which contains the banned substance IGF-1. He was prescribed a regimen. The phone call was recorded.
Those of us in the trade refer to these as "facts," but Lewis will not address them, ostensibly because he is serving a higher power but possibly because he has no explanation for what he did. I don't know, I'm just throwing that out there. It's a crazy theory of mine.
Lewis says Ross "has no credibility." He did not say why he was on the phone in October, after tearing his triceps, asking for help from a guy with no credibility.
Predictably, the SI story was misunderstood by people who did not bother to read it. It was really more about Ross and his company than about Lewis. Nobody is saying Lewis built his career on PEDs. I don't even think these particular Ds are capable of E-ing your P, or put another way: I doubt they work. But Lewis thought they worked, and he sure seems like he tried them.
In the world of PED crimes, this is a misdemeanor. I don't even know how you properly punish him for trying drugs that don't do anything. Can you give a man a speeding ticket for aggressively slamming on the gas pedal of a parked car?
Ross says Lewis was not his only Baltimore client. Ross tells SI that Ravens safety James Ihedigbo used the stickers all season -- and he has the text messages to prove it.
So I asked Ihedigbo about Ross. He was really, really, anxious to say he had never heard of him.
"Mitch Ross? Nah. I don't know who that is," Ihedigbo said. "Wait. What are you talking about? Wait. What's the question?"
The stickers, I said ...
"What do those stickers do?"
I told him it was in the story about Lewis.
"Oh. Nah. I don't know."
This should not distract from the real story here, which is: Deer antler spray? How great is that? I wonder if moose are jealous of the magical powers of deer, or if moose are relieved that pro athletes leave the moose alone, except in the offseason, when they occasionally shoot them. I do know one thing about moose, and we're defining "know" here as "something I read on Wikipedia that could even be true," and that is this: "Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for the right to mate with a particular female." In related news, the Bengals just signed three moose.
Meanwhile, the Ray train is barreling toward the Super Bowl. He built an incredible career on exceptional talent and intelligence -- and a competitive lust that could plausibly lead a man to believe stickers and deer antler spray can help him recover from a torn triceps.
And if you can't feel good about him, then he still feels good about you. Positivity, man. Ray Lewis is too blessed to be stressed, too legit to quit, and having too good of a time to stop with the rhymes. Amen.