Ravens strong safety James Ihedigbo didn't confirm nor deny receiving a large shipment of performance products this season from Mitch Ross, the Alabama man who made allegations prior to the Super Bowl that he provided Ray Lewis with deer antler spray to accelerate his recovery from a torn triceps.
Ross told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview that he has been sending hologram stickers or "pain chips" to Ihedigbo this season and has been supplying him with products since 2007 as well as sending over a "cooling spray" allegedly utilized by several players against the Miami Dolphins this season.
Ihedigbo was asked specifically about his relationship with Ross, whose chips aren't banned by the NFL or illegal.
"I personally have never done anything, never failed a drug test or anything of that manner that would put myself or my team in jeopardy," Ihedigbo said today in the Ravens' locker room. "When it comes to that, I play as hard as I can every snap and I do everything I can to take care of my body to do that. In answering that question, I have nothing else to say on Mitch and what he does with his whole business. That's on him.
"I get a lot of stuff sent from multiple vitamin companies. As a professional athlete, people are going to try to send you stuff to market their brand. It comes with the territory. I've never failed a drug test or done anything illegal in that manner to jeopardize my performance and my team."
Ross is the co-owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids or SWATS. He'll appear in a segment of "60 Minutes Sports," that's scheduled to air tonight on Showtime.
"James hit me up for pain chips at the beginning of the season and I sent him a cooling spray that he gave to the whole team before the Miami game," Ross said in a telephone interview from Baltimore-Washington International Airport on his Massachusetts cell phone. "I've been giving James products since 2007. He's never paid me.
"He gets the chips from me and gives them to the team. I can forward you a text message where he says that. The reason athletes keep calling me is because my stuff works and they want an edge."
Ross said he would forward the text messages from Ihedigbo to The Baltimore Sun at some point today, but has yet to do so.
Ross' business was shut down by the state of Alabama as he was charged with 260 counts of deceptive trade practices. He doesn't believe the legal attention is a coincidence.
"The day before that happened, 60 Minutes was in my office working on the story," Ross said. "I've got all these things helping all these athletes. Why would the league and the authorities want to do that?
"The NFL doesn't want to deal with it and the players don't want the attention, but my products work. Somebody is threatened by my success and my methods."
The claim of the products' effectiveness was refuted by Dr. Steven Novella, a professor of neurology at Yale Medical School.
"There's no energy in those stickers," Novella told "60 Minutes Sports. "They're just a piece of plastic."
Retired since the Ravens' Super Bowl victory and now working for ESPN as a football analyst, Lewis categorically denied being associated with Ross in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII.
"I wouldn’t give him the credit to even mention his name or his antics in my speeches or my moment,” Lewis said. "I’ve been in this business for 17 years and nobody has ever gotten up with me every morning and trained with me.
"Every test, I’ve ever took in the NFL, there’s never been a question if I ever even thought about using anything. To even entertain stupidity like that, tell him to try and get his story out with somebody else.”
Ross said he has turned over every piece of information on his involvement with Lewis going back to 2008 to "60 Minutes Sports."
"They've asked me everything under the sun about Ray Lewis, but what they'll use I don't know," said Ross, whose cell phone showed an unreturned text message he sent to Lewis during the week of the Super Bowl in New Orleans. "I haven't heard from Ray in a long time."
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