NEW ORLEANS -- Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was asked some simple questions: Will players do anything to keep their bodies physically in top condition? Would they cheat? Would they go to extremes?
"I can only speak for myself and I'll do whatever it takes to do things the right way," he said. "Look in my medicine cabinet and you'll see 30 different pill bottles that help me, but it's legal."
But not every player -- or every athlete -- does what's legal as the growing list of athletes busted for performance enhancing drugs has eroded the public trust in the genuineness of their achievements.
|More 2013 Super Bowl coverage|
|Picks and odds|
The latest accusations involving Ray Lewis may be overblown, but not irrelevant, as they again lead to us to the same question: What are athletes putting in their bodies when no one is watching?
Players interviewed by CBSSports.com since the Lewis story broke make two points. There's no question that players have shifted from more steroid type products to human growth hormone because the NFL isn't testing for HGH. This shift has been gradual but is steadily increasing. One longtime veteran estimated HGH use in the NFL at 10 percent to 20 percent three or four years ago to double that now.
The NFL and union, after initially agreeing to HGH testing, are now battling with exactly how to proceed as Congress threatens to take action to hasten an HGH testing agreement.
But the biggest takeaway from speaking with players about the Lewis situation was how players are using more extreme measures to better their physical performance.
Players say the use of deer antler spray by NFL players -- while not common -- is not unusual. Estimates I'm getting are in the 10 percent to 20 percent range. Players have been using the extract for years.
The reason is because players have long known the spray acts like HGH, but there's no test for it, so they know they won't get caught.
I've heard tales of consumption of various exotic foods and substances from around the world as a way of enhancing performance. Everything from bull penis (considered an aphrodisiac in parts of Asia) to horsemeat. There is a belief that consuming horse meat, I'm told, helps because of the performance enhancing drugs given to some horses would help the athlete who consumes the meat.
Weird, but I'm only reporting what I was told.
"You hear all kinds of stories," Ayanbadejo said. "I do the legal things. I don't do illegal or crazy."