When it comes to Peyton Manning and human growth hormone, it’s really not about did he or didn’t he.
Or at least it shouldn’t be because the current hysteria revolving around performance-enhancing drugs is every bit as nonsensical as the propaganda used in the 1930s and 1940s to steer our youth away from recreational drugs like marijuana.
There are plenty of legitimate problems that can be caused by smoking weed, but instead of preaching common sense to the general public, it was easier to release “documentaries” like “Reefer Madness” back then, a morality tale exposing the dangers of cannabis use that is now regarded as a kitschy film ridiculed as one of the worst ever made.
The irony, however, is that the same people who think they are so much better informed than generations past on these kind of issues have been victimized by the same, albeit much-better produced indoctrination material.
Performance-enhancing drugs are the scourge of professional sports and those who dare to cross the line to the dark side are forever labeled as cheaters by the moral majority and their sliding scale of justice, which usually shifts depending on the color of laundry they root for.
And those who suffered loss after loss to Peyton Manning during his brilliant NFL career are likely champing at the bit to put the Scarlet S of steroids on his jersey.
Never mind, that HGH, a substance produced naturally by the pituitary gland that spurs growth in children, isn’t a steroid or that a 39-year-old man who underwent four neck surgeries in any other line of work might be encouraged to take it. To the low-information crowd, PEDs equals steroids and steroids equal bad because they’ve been successfully indoctrinated just like many of those who watched “Reefer Madness” way back in 1936.
For what it’s worth Manning has vehemently denied the Al Jazeera report that he used HGH as part of his recovery from neck surgery back in 2011.
And the source for the report, former Guyer Institute pharmacist intern, Charlie Sly, has already recanted his statement, which also sullied a few others like the Steelers’ James Harrison and the Packers’ Clay Matthews, as well as Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, by claiming they were also supplied either painkillers in the case of Matthews or banned performance-enhancing drugs from the Indianapolis-based anti-aging clinic.
Manning quickly released a statement Saturday night denying the report in the strongest terms, calling it “garbage” and “totally made up.”
There is at least smoke to the allegations, however, something Manning and his agent Tom Condon were forced to address.
“Yes, I have been a patient under Dr. Guyer,” Manning told ESPN.com. “I have had nutrient therapy, oxygen therapy and other treatments that are holistic in nature but never HGH.”
Manning was also forced to address the claims that shipments of the hormone were sent to his wife, something that could have generated a paper trail and the fact that he populated the clinic at off hours, creating the perception of something clandestine going on.
“My wife has never provided any medication for me to take,” he said. “Ashley (Manning) and I never attended the clinic together after hours. There were times when I went in the morning and there were times when I went after practice so this thing about ‘after hours’ is so misleading because it may have been 5:15 pm because their office closed at 5.”
The Broncos, Manning’s current team, released a statement Sunday, defending their veteran quarterback, who is currently sidelined with a foot injury.
“Knowing Peyton Manning and everything he stands for, the Denver Broncos support him 100 percent. These are false claims made to Al Jazeera, and we don’t believe the report,” the team claimed. “Peyton is rightfully outraged by the allegations, which he emphatically denied to our organization and which have been publicly renounced by the source who initially provided them.
“Throughout his NFL career, particularly during his four seasons with the Broncos, Peyton has shown nothing but respect for the game. Our organization is confident Peyton does things the right way, and we do not find this story to be credible.”
HGH was banned in the most recent CBA agreed to by the NFL and the NFL Players Association back in July 2011, but blood testing for it only started recently after years of dragging of the feet by both sides. More so, the current testing for the hormone is not all that effective anyway.
Manning went even further an emotional interview with ESPN on Sunday morning.
“Between being angry, furious, disgusted is how I really feel, sickened,” Manning said. “I’m not sure I understand how someone can make something up about somebody. … And yet somehow it’s published in a story.
“I don’t understand that. Maybe you can explain that to me. So it’s completely fabricated, complete trash, garbage — there’s more adjectives I’d like to be able to use. It really makes me sick. It makes me sick that it brings (my wife) Ashley into it, her medical history, her medical privacy being violated. That makes me sick. I don’t understand that. I’m in the middle of my throwing workout. I enjoy doing that. I have to interrupt this workout to come talk about this.”
He also doubled down on the denials of any PED use.
“Absolutely not,” he said, when asked if he ever used HGH or other banned PEDs. “…I busted my butt to get healthy through a lot of hard work, I saw a lot of doctors. I went to the Guyer clinic. He had a hyperbaric chamber that trainers and doctors thought would be good for me. That ended up being part of my best medicine along with a lot of hard work.”
There are only two potential endings to this drama, either Manning is telling the truth and was unfairly targeted by a tortured fame-seeker or he used HGH and felt the need to deny at all costs because of the environment created by the hysteria over PEDs.
And I’ve seen too many take the latter path to dismiss it.
Whatever the denouement, however, the “PED Madness” has already besmirched Manning. And don’t be surprised when it comes looking for your favorite player.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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