"You're familiar with HGH, correct?" asked Key, referring to human growth hormone. "It's converted in the liver to IGF-1." IGF-1, or -insulin-like growth factor, is a natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth. "We have deer that we harvest out of New Zealand," Key said. "Their antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth . . . because of the high concentration of IGF-1. We've been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue. . . . This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years, this is stuff from the Chinese."
IGF-1 is also a substance banned by the NCAA and by every major pro league. Alleging that the NFL warned players away from S.W.A.T.S.'s spray because it's a threat to "Big Pharma," Key boasted that S.W.A.T.S. is "the most controversial supplement company on Earth."
And so on the eve of facing LSU in the biggest game of their careers, a clutch of Alabama players huddled around Key, an aggressive pitchman who once was arrested for trespassing after giving chips and the beam-ray treatment to an LSU player in his hotel room at the 2010 Senior Bowl. (The charges were dropped, but he was banned from the hotel for life.) Neither Key nor S.W.A.T.S.'s owner, Mitch Ross, an erstwhile male stripper and admitted former steroid dealer, has a college degree in science. No matter. Unbeknownst to Crimson Tide coaches, S.W.A.T.S. had an audience with players on the No. 2 team in college football, a gathering that Key taped with a pen camera and showed to SI. He handed out some of the company's products gratis -- "It should never come up, but I'll go to the grave saying you bought this," Key told them -- and one, linebacker Alex Watkins, six months later gave a video testimonial on YouTube citing the boost he got from the chips, water and deer-antler pills during Bama's 21-0 BCS title victory