By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
7:38 PM EST, February 1, 2013
NEW ORLEANS --
Mitch Ross, owner of S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids), refused to provide text messages or shipping labels that would confirm the allegations that he provided a deer antler velvet spray to retiring Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis that contains an NFL banned substance.
During an hour-long interview outside the Super Bowl media center on Friday, Ross dodged questions requesting specific contact with Lewis as reported by Sports Illustrated earlier this week.
"I never saw Ray put it in his mouth," said Ross, who claimed he's had death threats from Ravens fans while making no specific claims. "I want to apologize to any athletes that this story hurt. It was my intention to shine a light on the technologies that are light years ahead of what people can understand. I had no control of when the story runs. I'm trying to make right the wrong with Ray Lewis.
"Ray Lewis is a great man. Hue Jackson is a hero for starting to work with me in 2008. I am here to tell you natural IGF-1 rebuilds brain tissue. I did not walk in the Ravens' door with deer spray. I walked in with chips."
Lewis has vehemently denied the report he used the spray, which includes the substance IGF-1, which is banned by the NFL. He called Ross a "coward."Ross said he provided a recovery protocol for Lewis following his injury in October against the Dallas Cowboys that required surgery. Ross also said that he provided products to aid Lewis' recovery from a hamstring injury in 2009 and a toe injury in 2011.
"Ray was right about one thing," Ross said. "This whole story, this whole slander, was the tactics of the devil."
Ross expressed anger at Sports Illustrated and how he was portrayed.
"It's unfortunate that I'm getting death threats from Ravens fans," Ross said. "I got duped by Sports Illustrated. They catfished me. They dated me for two years and then made me look like a goofball. I'm trying to make right the wrong, let Ray play his football game and go into retirement. I thought Sports Illustrated was going to be my Holy Grail. But what did they do? They derailed me.
"Ninety-five percent of the athletes, once they get what they need from me, they throw me under the bus. 'I don't know that guy. I didn't do this. I didn't do that. Ray Lewis said the other day that I worked with him before the story ran, two years ago. That's all I'm going to say."Meanwhile, Ross said during the playoffs the Ravens, including reserve safety James Ihedigbo, used performance chips, which aren't banned.
"The chips were used by Baltimore against Denver and the Patriots, and I have text messages in my phone to prove it from James Ihedigbo," Ross said. "I sent 600 of them within a two-week period. And I have mailing slips from FedEx."
However, Ross declined to reveal the text messages or mailing slips.
When asked pointed questions about IGF-1, Ross replied: "It's in steak and in milk; there's nothing synthetic," Ross said. "Everything I do is natural. I have a doctor in Hawaii ready to go on air with whoever wants to interview me and this doctor, the No. 1 natural IGF-1 guy in the world that will tell the world that this will reverse the symptoms of ALS."
Ross drew laughter when he said that people have two brains, one in their head another in their stomach.
Former Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson issued a lengthy apology to the Ravens organization, including Lewis, in a telephone interview with The Baltimore Sun, for ever introducing Ross to Lewis and other players.
"First of all, I'm disappointed for the Ravens," Jackson told The Sun in a telephone interview Wednesday night. "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.
"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."
An emotional Lewis vehemently denied the allegations and called Ross a coward during a news conference at the Super Bowl.
Jackson defended Lewis' reputation, saying Lewis is clean and doesn't use banned substances.
"Ray is one of the greatest football players to ever play the game," Jackson said. "This kind of thing should never happen to him. He doesn't deserve it. It's not fair. This is not about talking about a relationship that he met a guy a few years back. It should be about him trying to win the most important game of all this season. Ray means the world to me. Ray has spoken his peace and I stand behind him 100 percent."
Jackson no longer endorses Ross' supplement products, at the request of the NFL.
And the veteran NFL assistant coach expressed regret for bringing Ross around Lewis and other players.
Jackson said he first met Ross at the NFL scouting combine in 2008 and was under the impression that his products involved the use of something akin to Live Strong bracelets.
"What I needed to do was apologize to Steve Bisciotti, John Harbaugh, Dick Cass and the Ravens' organization," said Jackson, the Ravens' quarterbacks coach from 2008 to 2009. "I'm the person who introduced him to people. Lesson learned.
"My whole thought is to never put anyone in a bad situation. The league has already dealt with me. Here, it's the Super Bowl, the greatest week of all for football and it's been about anything but the Ravens and the 49ers."
One of the products Lewis was allegedly using was a deer antler velvet spray, which the magazine reported including the substance IGF-1, which is banned by the league. Lewis has denied using the spray.
However, Ross told The Sun that he provided a recovery protocol for Lewis following his injury in October against the Dallas Cowboys that required surgery. Ross also said that he provided products to aid Lewis' recovery from a hamstring injury in 2009 and a toe injury in 2011.
“I was introduced to Ray Lewis by [former Ravens quarterbacks coach] Hue Jackson, and I began working with him that year after I was originally supposed to work with [former Ravens quarterback] Steve McNair,” Ross said. “As soon as I saw him hurt his arm against the Dallas Cowboys, I texted Ray. 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. It's a shame that Ray is denying taking it. The NFL is uneducated. This is not a steroid. It’s not illegal. Ray is not a cheater. He did it the right way. Ray is a good man. He did the work. He rehabbed his arm and did the workouts. This isn’t a shortcut. It’s just natural science.”
Ross emphasized that the deer antler velvet spray that contains IGF-1 is akin to human growth hormone, but is naturally produced in food products.
“Ray worked his butt off to get back out there,” Ross said. “I helped Ray get back on the field, but he worked so hard to do that. I made an armband for him to use after a week to strengthen the triceps after he got the stitches out. He shouldn't have to deny anything. It makes no sense to me.”
Ross said he first met Lewis in 2008 when he says he gave Jackson the performance chips.Ross said he also worked with former Ravens players Jamal Lewis, Willis McGahee, LeRon McClain and a few others. Name-dropping multiple high-profile athletes, Ross said he has worked with Johnny Damon, Vijay Singh, Terrell Owens and Brett Favre.
"The NFL told those players to disassociate themselves from me," Ross said. "Ray Lewis was one of them."Former St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora successfully sued Ross for $5.4 million for providing a supplement that caused him to violate the NFL's performance enhancing drug policy. Vobora was never paid, though. When Ross was asked why he didn't show up for court, he replied: "I was dead broke."
Ross claimed that what he gave to Vobora through former Ravens special teams player Gary Stills was tainted by an unnamed individual after it left his custody.
Ross denied using the opportunity of the Super Bowl to get publicity for his company, saying: "I didn't use Ray Lewis."
Ross did say he sent Lewis a text message this week. Lewis' name was able to be seen in Ross' text messages on his phone from Monday as he scrolled through his phone.
"Ray did not text me," he said. "I texted him and said, 'God bless." Ray has not texted me recently. God is good. He knows my heart."firstname.lastname@example.org