Every year one of the curiosities on Super Bowl media day is what was the most amusing or dumb or absurd question asked.
Tuesday's was whether the breaking story about Ray Lewis allegedly using banned substances would be a distraction to the Ravens.
Wasn't that answered 12 years ago?
During Super Bowl XXXV week, Lewis was interrogated at news conferences over his involvement in a double homicide that occurred one year earlier.
Lewis, whose inspirational dances on the field have lifted the Ravens for 17 seasons, deftly danced around that story back then.
Oh, by the way, the Ravens went on to dominate the Giants 34-7 and Lewis was the game's Most Valuable Player.
Some distraction, huh?
Fast forward to Super Bowl XLVII and the Sports Illustrated report that Lewis used banned substances to help heal a torn triceps.
Let's see now, a double homicide scandal … a banned-substances scandal … which would be more difficult for a player and a team to dismiss on game day?
I'm going with the murders, but it's a trick question: The answer is both are easy for them.
If the 49ers beat the Ravens on Sunday, it won't be because they're less distracted. It will be because they're the better team, one that a cynic might say made better use of chemicals.
This is athletics, perhaps the world, in the new millennium. Baseball currently finds itself in its own drug mess involving big-name players. Pick any sport and it's anything goes to get an edge.
Now back to football. This is the Super Bowl. Playing this game is what these guys are conditioned to do. For decades players in this sport shoot themselves up with painkillers to get on the field.
The game is where they and their states of mind are most comfortable. Competing is their escape from all the questions of the week. Three hours later the scoreboard provides the only answer that matters to them.
Ray Lewis played the Super Bowl in Tampa 12 years ago after being convicted of obstruction of justice in the stabbing deaths of two men in Atlanta 12 months earlier. Now Lewis is denying he ever used banned substances during his 17 NFL seasons.
Mitch Ross, the president of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, countered on ESPN radio that Lewis absolutely requested the company's products.
Ravens representatives, among them general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh, noted that Lewis never flunked a drug test.
The tendency in the media and the public is to believe Lewis is guilty until proven innocent, a liar until proven truthful, and crooked until proven straight.
Every time Lewis denies using banned substances, every time he discredits his accuser, every time he invokes how hard he trained his entire career …
Doesn't he sound a lot like Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens and so many other athletes accused of major transgressions?
One big difference is the drugs at issue: This time they're deer antler velvet extract and hologram stickers. Seriously, we're talking deer antler velvet extract and hologram stickers.
The next defendant could be accused of injecting trans fat cockroach enzymes and photosynthetic hippopotamus droppings.
Players on both the Ravens and 49ers might be sighing this sigh over the Lewis drug revelations: "But for the grace of God …"
Then they'll go onto the field in Super Bowl XLVII and nothing will distract from trying to win.
Just as Ray Lewis and the Ravens weren't distracted 12 years ago.
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