Ray Lewis avoids talk of report on deer spray

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Ray Lewis avoids talk of report on deer spray

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Of all the topics Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis wanted to talk about at Super Bowl media day, deer-antler spray probably was not on the list.

He declined to directly address in any detail Tuesday questions about a Sports Illustrated report that he sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis was the NFL's leading tackler in the playoffs after missing 10 regular-season games with the injury.

The company, Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), says its deer-antler substance contains a banned performance-enhancer connected to human growth hormone.

The 37-year-old Lewis, who has announced he will retire after playing against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl, dismissed the report as ``stupidity.''

Sport Illustrated reported that SWATS owner Mitch Ross recorded a call with Lewis hours after the player hurt his arm in an October game against Dallas. According to the report, Lewis asked Ross to send him deer-antler spray and pills, along with other products made by the company.

The magazine also said that when it spoke to Lewis for its story, he acknowledged asking Ross for ``some more of the regular stuff'' on the night of the injury and that he has been associated with the company ``for a couple years through Hue Jackson.''

Jackson is a former Ravens quarterbacks coach - and later head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Two years ago he stopped endorsing SWATS because his ties to the company violated NFL rules.

``That was a 2-year-old story that you want me to refresh ... so I won't even speak about it,'' Lewis said Tuesday. ``Because I've been in this business 17 years, and nobody has ever got up with me every morning and trained with me. Every test I've ever took in the NFL - there's never been a question of if I ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that. ...''

The NFL didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, and NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah declined comment.

``The team knew about this report. Ray denies taking anything and has always passed tests,'' Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said he found out about the SI story during the team's bus ride to the Superdome for media day.

``I have not talked to Ray about that personally,'' Harbaugh said. ``What I do know about that is Ray has worked incredibly and extremely hard to get back, so I hate to see anything diminish the work ethic that he's put in to get to where he is right now. And my understanding is Ray has passed every random, you know, substance test that he's taken throughout the course of his whole career. So there's never been a test that's shown up anything along those lines.''

All in all, the topic only added to what already was a week filled with plot lines connected to Lewis.

There is the largely rehabilitated image of a man who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with a double murder after a Super Bowl party at an Atlanta nightclub in 2000. There is the impending retirement, a self-titled ``last ride'' for a player widely considered one of the top defenders in NFL history and the Super Bowl MVP in 2001.

And there is his recovery from what was originally thought to be a season-ending injury.

``When I tore my tricep, the doctor looked at me after I went in the office and she told me that I was out for the year. And I said, `Doc, are you sure?' I said, `Nah.' I said, `Doc, there's no way I'm going to be out for the year with just a torn tricep,' `` Lewis said with a laugh Tuesday. ``I said, `I've been through way worse.' She was like, `Ray, nobody's never come back from this.' I said, `Well, nobody's ever been Ray Lewis, either.' ``

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

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AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert will undergo ankle surgery, according to multiple reports.

Estimates varied on when Eifert would return, but he was not expected to be back on the field until at least mid-August.

Eifert suffered his injury at the Pro Bowl, which he left wearing a walking boot.

His ankle has not responded to treatment as well as Eifert hoped, and he could not join his teammates for OTA’s this week.

A first-round pick in 2013 (21st overall), Eifert led all NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown catches last season, and had 52 catches overall for 615 yards. Still only 25 years old, Eifert has emerged as a major weapon for the Bengals, and they have already picked up his fifth-year option.

The priority for the Bengals is to have Eifert ready for Week 1 when they visit the Jets. Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Kroft, and C. J. Uzomah will see plenty of reps at tight end until Eifert returns.

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NFL owners vote for modest changes to replay, shun overhaul

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NFL owners vote for modest changes to replay, shun overhaul

The NFL made modest changes to replay rules Tuesday, but did not institute major changes that some teams, including the Ravens, had proposed in recent months.

Owners voted for changes that slightly increased situations where plays can be reviewed, and when officials can turn to the league office for help during games.

Situations subject to replay review, which were not before, include:

- Penalty enforcement

- Proper down

- Spot of a foul

- Status of game clock

Plays not reviewable in the past, that can now be reviewed, include:

- Where a ball in the air crosses the sideline.

- Whether a player was blocked into a loose ball.

- Advancement by a player after either a valid, or invalid, fair catch signal.

- Whether player impetus forced a ball to travel into the end zone.

The Ravens made a proposal in March that would have made all plays reviewable except for offensive and defensive holding, offensive and defensive pass interference, illegal contact, illegal use of hands, and whether a quarterback, receiver, or kicker had been hit illegally. The Patriots had previously proposed that all plays be made reviewable, but that has also been resisted by the owners and the competition committee.

Each team will still be given two replay challenges per game, and will be awarded a third challenge only if the first two are successful.

Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

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Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

Because Monday Night Football only runs in the fall and winter, one would think that America's TV guide would be lacking a program full of intense, testosterone-driven competition between determined men during the summer time. But that's why ABC has given us The Bachelorette, a dating game show that'll come on once a week and features a woman named Jo Jo looking for love amongst a handful of guys wearing suits that are way too tight and sporting unhealthy amounts of hair gel.

Fine, so it's not a perfect substitution for four quarters of NFL action, but it'll have to do (it beats turning the TV off and interacting with loved ones, at least). And for Ravens running back Justin Forsett, The Bachelorette will actually be more than something he simply puts up on the screen when he doesn't want to watch The Departed, which is seemingly on at least once a day, again. That's because his cousin is a contestant striving for Jo Jo's heart.

Here's what Forsett had to say during the show's premiere:

Then, when asked which of the dudes he was related to, he responded:

When looking through The Bachelorette's cast, there's no Chris, but there is a Christian, whom must be the person Forsett is referring to. As far as how Christian's debut went? Well — to put it into football terms — he picked up a win in Week 1:

Of course, Forsett was unable to escape the night without being on the receiving end of some ridicule. Former Jaguars star (and teammate of Forsett's in 2013) Maurice Jones-Drew fired this message off after seeing the Ravens' workhorse's original post in which he said he hopes Christian would come out on top:

Well, Christian survived the opener, at least. Whether he's able to keep the drive going and eventually cross the goal line as the show's champion, though, is something that will only be revealed in the coming episodes. 

(Author's note: Writing about The Bachelorette while using football metaphors helps make writing about The Bachelorette feel more acceptable). 

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