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Dugan's legwork for gridiron star

HE idolises American football hero Ray Lewis and has the ink marks to prove it, but Canberra Raiders fullback Josh Dugan has no regrets over his permanent tribute to the Super Bowl legend, despite the drug allegations against him.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Lewis, who will look to end his NFL career in style against San Francisco on Monday, was forced to deny he had taken a prohibited substance to quicken his recovery from a triceps injury.

American magazine Sports Illustrated reported Lewis had attempted to acquire deer antler velvet extract, which contains the banned compound IGF-1.

In 2000, two men were murdered when a fight broke out between Lewis and his entourage and another group in Atlanta.

Lewis admitted giving a misleading statement to police after the killings, and was slapped with an obstruction of justice misdemeanour charge.

Dugan had a tattoo of the extravagant Lewis, known for his energetic pre-game dance, inked on his right leg in January.


His admiration for Lewis, regarded by many gridiron followers as the best linebacker of all time, remains undiluted by this week's drug allegations.

''If people knew the real story … it happened 12 years ago as well, and he was found not guilty then, and no doubt he'll be found not guilty again this year,'' Dugan said. ''The officials for Baltimore have all come out this week saying they've all done in-house drug testing, and not once has he ever tested positive.

''It's kind of hard to believe all that hype.''

However, the hype and glitz of the NFL is something Dugan subscribes to religiously.

The 22-year-old is a massive Ravens fan, and desperately hopes Lewis bows out with a second Super Bowl ring.

''I just love the way Ray goes about himself on and off the field, his passion for his teammates and his sport,'' Dugan said.

''It's motivating, and I do look up to him a bit.

''Some of the boys have said I need to come up with a dance for the in-goal or whatever, but I think I'll leave that to Ray.''

Dugan said he was disappointed when Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Michael Smith was prevented from training with the Raiders this summer.

Smith, the fiance of Canberra Capitals WNBL star Alice Coddington, was told by the Buccaneers not to train with the Raiders due to liability concerns.

''It would have been different and I would have enjoyed it,'' Dugan said. ''It would be interesting to hear the insights into the NFL, and get a few tips and pointers.''

For the once-a-year punter

Defence is key: ‘‘Both teams have got some really good linebackers, you’ve got Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs for the Ravens, and Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman for the 49ers. It all comes down to defence and whether the Ravens can shut down [49ers quarterback] Colin Kaepernick’s running game.’’

The quarterbacks: ‘‘A big key is if Kaepernick can handle the big game and all the hype surrounding it, because it’s only his 10th start at quarterback. [Ravens quarterback] Joe Flacco has proven the last few weeks he can handle that pressure, he’s beaten [Denver quarterback] Peyton Manning and [New England quarterback] Tom Brady in the play-offs, two future Hall of Famers and both on the road too. I think Flacco’s in history now as the first rookie quarterback to win two play-off games. I think he’s definitely proved himself and will get up for this game.’’

Pressure on 49ers: ‘‘They’ve been up there all year, while the Ravens have made a late run from nowhere. The 49ers are 5-0 in Super Bowls too, so they don’t want to be the first team to lose one. Flacco hasn’t thrown an intercept all post-season, if he can keep doing that he’s got Ray Rice who’s a double threat with his throwing and running game. Frank Gore and Randy Moss are dangerous for the 49ers, both teams have really good wide receivers and running backs.’’

The Ravens' near misses in recent years: ‘‘I’m pretty happy they got rid of [former Ravens kicker] Billy Cundiff, he’s cost us [with unsuccessful kicks in the AFC championship games] the last two years. Thankfully we’ve got a new kicker in Justin Tucker who can handle that pressure.’’