We have been here before.
A story breaks that becomes as big, if not bigger than the real story--the Super Bowl, itself.
From Joe Namath to Stanley Wilson to Eugene Robinson to Barret Robbins, there have been may actions or words to detract from the game and to take the concentration of at least one of the participating teams away from where it should be.
Ray Lewis is the latest in this trilogy.
At a media availability Wednesday, Lewis denied the latest allegations of impropriety, that he ingested a substance banned by the NFL in an effort to help his healing from his torn right triceps injury. On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated reported that Lewis sought help from Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) -- a company that makes the unorthodox deer-antler spray to be utilized by spraying it under your tongue. which is supposed to be sprayed under the tongue.
When asked if was angry, Lewis had a different take.
"Me?," asked Lewis. "Never angry. I'm too blessed to be stressed. You're not angry. You can use a different word. You can use the word agitated because I'm here to win a Super Bowl. I'm not here to entertain somebody who does not affect that one way or another and so the word agitated would probably be better. Anything from the outside can never affect me to be angry."
Lewis expounded on how he feels about the report.
"It's probably one of the embarrassing things that we can do on this type of stage," Lewis said. "I think it takes totally away from you give somebody the ability to come into our world. Our world is a very secret society. We try to protect our world as much as we can. When you let cowards come in and do things like that, to try to disturb something. I've said it before, I've said it a million times. The reason why I'm smiling is that is so funny about this story because I've never, ever took what he says or whatever I was supposed to do. And it's just sad, once again, that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big where the dreams are really real. They're really real. I don't need it. My teammates don't need it, the 49ers don't need it, nobody needs it because it just really shows you how people really plan things and try to attack people from the outside and it's just very foolish and the guy has no credibility. He's been sued four or five times over this same b.s.. Just to entertain it. I can't, I won't and I just truly believe he doesn't have the privilege for me to speak about it ever again.
The Ravens strongly urged Lewis to publicly deny the allegation after he did not completely do so when asked about it on Tuesday. For his part, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh believes Lewis and is standing by him--strongly, saying that Lewis knows there is nothing to it and that he understands that it is something he has never been involved with.
"He told me there's nothing to it," Harbaugh said. "He's told us in the past and now that he has never taken any of it."
SWATS co-owner John Ross has stated that Lewis used several of his products. It may be a moot point, regardless of who is telling the truth. The NFL Players Association has stated that the NFL does not test for IGF-1, which is the substance in question found in deer-antler extract, adding that the league maintains that the substance cannot be detected, anyway, with the current testing methods the NFL employs.
How much will the story affect Lewis and the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII?
That remains to be seen. You get the feeling observing Lewis and the Ravens that they will brush it off, providing nothing more damaging comes out, and remain focused on the task at hand but the residual will remain unknown until the game is played.
This is not the first distraction leading up to a Super Bowl game.
Prior to Super Bowl III, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath boldly guaranteed that his massive underdog squad would upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. "We will win the game," said Namath. "I guarantee it."
Even Jets players and coaches were concerned about the proclamation and how it would impact the Colts, serving as a motivating factor to get the attention of a team that may have been taking the Jets lightly.
To the contrary, the comment may have placed some degree of doubt on the Colts, who clearly played tight, and may have served to motivate the New York players into believing they could truly win. They did in shocking fashion, winning 16-7, making a legend out of Namath and giving the old AFL and new AFC credibility.
Prior to Super Bowl XXIII, Bengals running back Stanley Wilson had a problem. Wilson was dealing with an addiction to drugs, cocaine, specifically. While he had seemingly been clean and ready to play in the big game against San Francisco, things went wrong.
Wilson had already been convicted as a two-time offender by the NFL for substance abuse and lost an entire season for his offenses. It did not matter. The pull was magnetic. Wilson used, got caught, and did not play in the Super Bowl. It weighed heavily on his teammates. In fact, he never played again as he was banned for life as a three-time offender under NFL rules.
Despite the distraction, the Bengals played well against the favored 49ers, carrying a 16-13 lead into the final 3:10. Then, Joe Montana guided his team on a 92-yard drive, scoring the game-winner on a touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining to pull out a 20-16 victory over Cincinnati.
Prior to Super Bowl XXXIII, there was the traditional Super Bowl Breakfast, where a prominent player is chosen as the winner of the prestigious Bart Starr Award from the Christian organization Athletes in Action, symbolic of a player who has exhibited outstanding character, on and off the field.
Defensive back Eugene Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons certainly fit the bill. He was a devout Christian man who had served the Atlanta community in brilliant fashion. He was an obvious and popular choice for the award at the breakfast the morning before the big game.
The night after receiving the award, Robinson went cruising. His image, and his team's chances of upsetting the favored Denver Broncos would end up taking a bruising from which they would not recover.
Robinson was arrested by an undercover officer for allegedly soliciting a sexual favor from a prostitute in an area known for this type of thing in the Miami area. Robinson spent the night in jail.
He was released in time to play in the game, but the damage was done. The Falcons were obviously affected by their man of integrity falling. Robinson was obviously affected by his late night. He played miserably and his team hardly fared better in a 34-19 loss to Denver.
Robinson was beaten on a few occasions, including a damaging 80-yard touchdown pass from John Elway to Rod Smith. Robinson eventually gave back the award. His career and image never really recovered from the incident.
Prior to Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders felt they had a real chance to beat their former coach, Jon Gruden and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After all, Oakland was a four-point favorite. Any chance they had may have gone out the window the day before the big game.
That is when massive, talented Oakland center Barret Robbins disappeared.
The talented center, who had been a Pro Bowl participant for his excellence previously, vanished. It turns out that Robbins had been taking depression medication for being bipolar, which results in various mood swings. He apparently stopped taking the medication prior to the game and it had a dramatic impact on him. He ended up in the hospital and did not play in the game. Adam Treu replaced him.
The Raiders, who ran the ball very well all year long, hardly ran it, choosing to pass instead with drastic results. Rich Gannon suffered five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns as Tampa Bay ran away from the Raiders 48-21.
Robbins never really recovered and the Raiders have not been close to making a Super Bowl in the 10 years since that game. Robbins has since had two stints in jail, one after an initial attempted murder charge in San Francisco and the other for a drug violation involving crack cocaine in Dallas which violated terms of his probation.
Lewis has handled the latest controversy well. So have the Ravens. The guess is that the latest Super Bowl distraction will have little, if any impact on the big game Sunday against the 49ers. Let us hope so. The story should be the game.
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