Down in New Orleans it’s Super Bowl XLVII week — that’s “Super Bowl 47″ for those of us who use a normal calendar and numbers — and that means at least one off the wall story or more to digest.
As usual, the national sports media has pulled out all the stops, rooted the drain pipes and is publishing, broadcasting and discussing just about everything possible related to the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. They’ll be writing about Bourbon Street, showing food from Galatoire’s, Brennan’s, boozy scenes from Pat O’Briens, and the always cool Jackson Square on the Mississippi River. It’s not just the sports media, of course. Mainstream media, bloggers, entertainment reporters and others are or will be in the Crescent City for Sunday’s big game.
News broke Tuesday from Sports Illustrated about Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and his alleged connection to an Alabama-based company that produces performance supplements. “Performance supplements” is generally lumped into the “performance enhancing” category and that phrase has now become toxic given all the incidents in professional sports, banned substances and such. So it’s a story that is raising eyebrows and attracting questions, which Lewis doesn’t want to discuss.
The company in Birmingham, S.W.A.T.S., is run by a guy, Mitch Ross, who told SI that for a couple of years he was a salesman at the Gap, a pool cleaner and a male stripper, before settling into personal training at a Bally’s in Atlanta. He’s now on the straight and narrow, a health-conscious Christian who believes in his products and like any other businessman is trying to make a living. Sounds like a script out of a Tarantino movie.
One of the items his company offers is an “antler spray” produced from deer antler velvet taken from animals in New Zealand. This purportedly is a health booster rooted in Eastern medicine and lore. The spray is ingested under the tongue, while powdered versions may be ingested in capsule form.
Deer hunters know antlers grow at a tremendous rate. Once the hormonal changes occur after the breeding period, it’s not long before the antlers on deer, elk, moose, red deer and some other animals begin growing again. It’s one of the fascinating parts of nature and for hunters, something we enjoy seeing each spring and summer before hunting season arrives.
It’s no surprise what pro athletes will do to recover from injuries, get back on the field of play and possibly gain an edge over opponents. This story from The Miami Herald about former Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor is eye-opening, as is this story from Esquire.
The story about Lewis and other athletes, including Alabama and Auburn football players, and former athletes, who allegedly used or admitted to using the S.W.A.T.S. products, definitely isn’t out of the norm for Super Bowl week. The legitimacy of the products, of course, is a question still to be answered.