NEW ORLEANS -- The ending for Ray Lewis is set. He's had a Hall of Fame career. Is the best middle linebacker of all time. Has rehabilitated a once battered image. Now, he could ride off into the NFL's sunset with a Super Bowl win. Could be a fairy-tale ending, right?
The latest report from Sports Illustrated, while far from certain, will be the most talked about story this week leading up to the game. Could this story threaten that fairy-tale ending?
The magazine says Lewis contacted a company to obtain a substance banned by the NFL as he was rehabilitating a torn triceps. Again, no one knows about the accuracy of the report.
But if there is a hint of truth it threatens to tarnish Lewis' exit. I like Lewis. Respect Lewis. That's the truth. But we don't know exactly what's truthful regarding the magazine report.
Lewis would not comment Tuesday. Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens have never been notified of a failed test and that Lewis has been tested randomly by the NFL.
One league official said the substance is on the banned list. However, there's some question about whether the NFL can actually test for the substance because it's so similar to human growth hormone. The NFL currently doesn't test for HGH.
One thing that's highly reinforced is what athletes will do to remain competitive or come back from injury. It's fascinating stuff.
Lewis has become maybe the biggest story of this postseason. His journey to finish his career with another Super Bowl has been presented as a tale about a player's continuing quest for redemption as he leaves the sport.
If Lewis was using PEDs, then that story changes and not for the better.
Lewis will go into the Hall of Fame. It's assured. His legacy as a brilliant talent is assured.
Hopefully, the fairy tale won't turn into a nightmare.