You know what else was a feel-good story for a while? Lance Armstrong's improbably 7 Tour de France titles.
Later on, that story soured on just about everyone, when it was revealed that Lance was aided by performance enhancing drugs.
Will the same happen to Lewis?
It's possible, according to a report from Sports Illustrated, in which Lewis is quoted requesting treatments that include IGF-1, which is banned by the NFL, NCAA, and every other major pro sports league.
The drug is found in a deer antler spray that Lewis reportedly requested from Mitch Ross, the owner of a company called S.W.A.T.S., which stands for "sports with alternatives to steroids."
From the SI report:
Hours after he tore his triceps during an Oct. 14 home game against the Cowboys, Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and Ross connected on the phone. Again, Ross videotaped the call.
"It's bottom, near the elbow," Lewis said of the tear. After asking a few pseudo diagnostic questions, Ross concluded, "All right, well this is going to be simple. . . . How many pain chips you got around the house?"
"I got plenty of them," Lewis replied.
Ross prescribed a deluxe program, including holographic stickers on the right elbow; copious quantities of the powder additive; sleeping in front of a beam-ray light programmed with frequencies for tissue regeneration and pain relief; drinking negatively charged water; a 10-per-day regimen of the deer-antler pills that will "rebuild your brain via your small intestines" (and which Lewis said he hadn't been taking, then swallowed four during the conversation); and spritzes of deer-antler velvet extract (the Ultimate Spray) every two hours.
"Spray on my elbow every two hours?" Lewis asked.
"No," Ross said, "under your tongue."
Lewis had not talked to media for 10 weeks while he rehabbed his injury. Asked by SI if he had worked with Key and Ross during his recovery, he initially demurred. "I didn't work with them personally this time," he said.
When pressed, Lewis said, "Nobody helped me out with the rehab. I've been doing S.W.A.T.S. for a couple years through Hue Jackson, that's it. That's my only connection to them."
Asked if he had talked to Ross the night of his injury, Lewis replied, "I told him to send me some more of the regular stuff, the S.W.A.T.S., the stickers or whatever."
And did they help?
"I think a lot of things helped me."
So would he suggest S.W.A.T.S. to other players?
"If I did, I would've done said it by now," Lewis said. Asked specifically about the spray and the pills, Lewis walked away without comment.
Conveniently for Lewis and the Ravens, this won't affect this season at all. It's too late for the NFL to suspend him. The Ravens are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday anyway, and that's the only game that REALLY matters.
Even if they do a full investigation and find that the story is 100% true, Lewis is retiring after the Super Bowl anyway.
If anyone is surprised by this, it can only be thanks to supreme naiveté. While Ray Lewis appears to have cleaned up his act since that one time he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time," let's not make him out to be a saint.
Despite his self-righteous scripture quoting before and after games, particularly when they make no sense at all (no weapon formed against a football team shall prosper?), Lewis is the same person he has always been.
It's not about team. It's not about family. Everything Ray Lewis does is all about Ray Lewis. The pre-game dance. The speeches. The scripture quoting. Paying off the family of the murder victim a decade ago.
All along, it has always been all about Ray Lewis.
And that's why this doesn't surprise me, and it shouldn't surprise you.