In today's age of increased media attention, hardly anything remains a secret for too long. This fact has forced a couple of personal stories to become public during the weeks leading up to the big game.
While these players are professionals, it would not be surprising if they are a little distracted heading into Super Bowl XLVII.
David Epstein and George Dohrmann of Sports Illustrated put together a profile of the company S.W.A.T.S., Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, for its next issue.
The article states that Ray Lewis used "spritzes of deer-antler velvet extract" to help recover from his triceps injury. The problem is that the spray contains IFG-1, a banned substance in the NFL.
Lewis denied the story and usage of any illegal substance, according to ESPN.
However, the allegations have already been made. After this happens, it is very hard for an athlete to change his overall perception from the public.
Combine this with the linebacker's past legal troubles, and it could severely change his NFL legacy.
Baltimore needs Lewis to be at his best on Sunday, but it might be hard for him to focus during the week with the constant media harassment.
Heading into the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Crabtree had to worry about more than just football. On Jan. 18, he was questioned for possible sexual assault charges.
Since then, he has been cleared of wrongdoing and will not be charged with any crime, according to NFL.com.
While the receiver claims that this matter is behind him, it still had to be something that was on his mind over the past week. Even if he is ready to play in the game, it is possible he was not 100 percent in practice.
Crabtree had more than twice as many catches and receiving yards as anyone else on the 49ers this season, so he is vital to the team's offensive success. The team better hope that this issue will not come up again.
Although both teams will be very close to full strength on Sunday, Justin Smith will be far from it.
The defensive tackle will play against the Ravens, but his triceps injury is something that could seriously damage his ability to be effective.
At Tuesday's media day, Smith said "I'll be ready to get it fixed next week. They sew it back down, re-attach the tendon. It's 50/60% right now" (via USA Today). He is set to undergo surgery after the Super Bowl.
This does not sound like an enjoyable experience.
The veteran is one of the most important players on the 49ers roster. He is great at getting into the opposing backfield, as well as taking on blockers to give his teammates space to make plays.
Even though 50 percent of Smith is better than zero percent, it is tough to imagine that he will be able to play as well as usual. Hopefully for San Francisco, the rest of the defense will pick up the slack against Baltimore.
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