The news that former Vol and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was linked to an HGH ring shocked the world Sunday. But how true is it?
Depending on your perspective of professional athletes and sports icons this day in age, the news about Peyton Manning connected to an HGH ring was either completely shocking or just your run of the mill celebrity falling mightily.
After all, with guys like Joe Paterno, Lance Armstrong, and Tom Brady, it seems like the more somebody is propped up nowadays, the harder they fall.
But, as with every case, we must reserve judgment and wait until all the facts are in. After all, it is just as possible Manning could be like Albert Pujols, a victim of reckless reporting, as much as it is he could be like Lance Armstrong.
For context, let’s start from the beginning. An Al Jazeera report entitled “The Dark Side” mentioned Manning along with other athletes, including Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, in a ring of people receiving HGH after reporter Liam Collins went undercover to investigate the matter.
The damning admission came from Austin, Texas-based pharmacist Charlie Sly.
In the documentary, Sly tells Collins, who is taking secret video of his interactions, that he was “part of a medical team that helped [Manning] recover” from the surgery. Sly alleges that the clinic mailed growth hormone and other drugs to Manning’s wife, Ashley Manning, so that the quarterback’s name was never attached to them.
Within 24 hours of this breaking, Sly his recanted his accusations, Manning has emphatically denied anything, and now we are left with bits of evidence to piece together. Needless to say more facts will come out.
But on top of that report, we also have a report that a Manning spokesman has said his wife has been a customer at that anti-aging clinic.
Manning spokesman did say Peyton’s wife was a patient at this anti-aging clinic in question. She had a prescription, wouldn’t say for what
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2015
So with all of this, let’s weigh what we have.
The Case Against Peyton Manning
To piece this together, the worst accusation would be that Manning took the HGH in 2011 as he was recovering from injury. He went on to have two of the three best seasons of his career in 2012 and 2013, taking the league by firestorm.
In 2014, the NFL began HGH testing, and despite an incredibly strong start from Manning, he had a terrible second half to the season. Then he had struggled all of this season before getting injured. To be fair to the accusations, it’s a bit of an odd coincidence that Manning’s drop-off in performance came dramatically…and immediately after the NFL started testing.
With the exception of the neck injury and a bursa sac issue to start the 2008 season, Manning had almost never gotten hurt. Coming off the neck injury, he looked more durable than ever.
But ever since the testing began, his body has failed him one way after another. However, all of that is circumstantial evidence. There is lots to defend him as well.
The Case for Peyton Manning
The first case for Manning is that Charlie Sly has come out and recanted what he said. But it’s not the strongest case. Obviously, given that this report was undercover, he probably never expected it to get out in the first place. So recanting it might be expected.
Another case for Manning is the credibility of the reporter, Liam Collins. According to a British news report, this guy is banned from running a business until 2027 in the country after he swindled people out of millions, and he also seems like a guy obsessed with fame, having tried to make it as a hurdler before injuries halted him and then going on Britain’s Got Talent and Italy’s Got Talent.
Again, this is a failed athlete who secretly filmed these allegations. But his credibility along with the pharmacist’s recant could be enough to help Manning.
Finally, the biggest piece of evidence is that it’s very plausible that Manning’s wife, Ashley Manning would have received HGH treatment. The only thing that ever came out in the report was that everything was shipped in Ashley Manning’s name, and that leap was made to connect Peyton to the ring.
It made sense since he had the neck surgery in 2011, the year these shipments were allegedly made.
But what also happened in 2011 is that Ashley Manning gave birth to twins. HGH can commonly be prescribed as a post-birth drug, which any Google search can reveal. On top of that, a self-proclaimed spokeswoman on Twitter for a health organization noted that it is probably even more common in Twins. Before you question her credibility, note that NFL reporter Ian Rappaport responded to it as well.
This whole situation is unfortunate no matter how it plays out. Either Manning is guilty or, if he’s telling the truth, he had to reveal personal medical information about his wife, which nobody should want to do. Either way, it is important to only go by what we know right now and reserve judgment on any blanket statements until more facts are revealed.