“I'm strong to the finich cause I eats me spinach.”
— Popeye the Sailor Man
“The secret compartment of my ring I fill with an Underdog Super Energy Pill.”
Hey, whatever gets you through the game, right?
Wrong, says the National Football League.
If Popeye were playing tonight in Super Bowl XLVII, his nitrates-rich spinach would be a permissable performance enhancer.
But Underdog's Super Energy Pill would not.
Even deer-antler extract ist verboten under NFL — and NCAA — regulations. That made big news of an allegation, reported Tuesday by Sports Illustrated, that Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis used that substance in spray form to hasten his recovery from a torn triceps this season.
Lewis denied it.
However, that story cast a fresh shadow on one of the best linebackers in NFL history as he tries to go out on top tonight against the San Francisco 49ers.
One month ago, Lewis announced that this would be his final season.
Thirteen years ago, Lewis was accused of an offense far more serious than deer-antler doping after two men were stabbed to death outside an Atlanta nightclub on the eve of Super Bowl XXXIV.
The murder charges against Lewis were dropped due to lack of evidence, though he did plead guilty to obstruction of justice.
Since then, he's become known less for that off-field mess than for his fiery on-field pep talks to teammates before games — and most recently for fervently praising the Lord for His help in Baltimore's last three playoff victories.
Enough about “Raytorious.”
Back to superheroes from the 1940s onward — and their not-so-secret formulas for super energy:
■ Roger Ramjet: Patriotic paragon takes orders from Gen. G.I. Brassbottom and takes Proton Energy Pills (PEP) that give him “the strength of 20 atom bombs for a period of 20 seconds.” Despite his nuclear power, regularly requires assistance from high-flying American Eagles partners — Yank, Doodle, Dan and Dee.
■ Captain America: Steve Rogers goes from weakling to war hero by swallowing the red-white-and-blue might of a “Super Soldier Serum.”
■ Giant-Man (formerly Ant-Man): Dr. Hank Pym takes pills packed with “Pym Particles” to switch back and forth between being 20 feet tall and the size of an ant.
■ Ultraman: The Beta Capsule, when activated (not ingested), transforms Shin Hayata of Science Patrol into metallic behemoth who beats up and even tosses around intergalactic monsters — including Hydra, Red King, The Under the Ground Human and Antlar (not to be confused with deer-antler extract).
■ Hourman: Gifted biochemist Rex Tyler develops “Miraclo Pills” that elevate his powers for an hour. Later passes Hourman duties, and that drug habit (the pills were addictive — seriously), down to son Rick.
■ Mr. Terrific: A hockey-puck-sized “Power Pill” turns obscure gas pumper Stanley Beamish into righteous scourge of criminals.
Variations on such drug-induced superpowers persisted through several decades, sending a dubious message to millions of aspiring superheroes.
But rather than risking joining the reviled ranks of Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and so many other disgraced sports superstars who cheated for extra edges, try following the clean-living, power-boosting example of ...
■ The Incredible Hulk: Dr. Bruce Banner doesn't get incredible bulk and power from drugs. He gets them from getting really mad.
In other words, he gets extremely fired up — and without Ray Lewis' help.
OK, so the Hulk's incredible-ness also flows from Banner's exposure, in an atomic-explosion lab mishap, to gamma rays.
Still, the Hulk shows us all how to channel bad moods into good works.
As he puts his direct approach in the third person:
So have a smashing Super Sunday — without super energy pills.
And remember, spinach dip remains a nutritious, delicious — and unbanned — accent for your Super Bowl party chips.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.