Al Jazeera Accuses Several NFL Players Of HGH Consumption, Including Peyton Manning

Well, this story will be making the rounds as we get into the thick of Week 16 on Sunday.

An Indianapolis anti-aging clinic supplied quarterback Peyton Manning with human growth hormone, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the NFL, a pharmacist who once worked at the clinic asserts in a new special report from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.


Manning missed the 2011 season, when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, after undergoing neck surgery. 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.

Manning, for his part, has strongly and quickly denied these accusations:

The allegation that I would do something like that is complete garbage and is totally made up,” the statement from Manning said. “It never happened. Never. I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.

I have a few very early thoughts on this report, that of course can change as we learn more:

  • First, it should be noted that Manning is not the only NFL player implicated in this report. Also among the accused are Packers linebackers Mike Neal and Julius Peppers (along with a non-HGH accusation levied at Clay Matthews), Steelers linebacker James Harrison, and former Jets/Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller. Manning may be the most high profile player among the accused, but there is Pro Bowl talent among the other names listed above.
  • Furthermore, it’s highly likely that many, many more players have taken HGH recently. Chris Kluwe (who, if you read his Twitter feed is hardly being kind to Manning), gave this guess:

  • As the Huffington Post explains, HGH was included in the Program on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances in the 2011 CBA (but actual testing did not occur until 2014). This is laid out in Art. 39, §7(b) as the only mention of HGH in the entire CBA, stating that “the Program on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances will include both annual blood testing and random blood testing for human growth hormone, with discipline for positive tests at the same level as for steroids.”
  • The 2014 addendum to the CBA that allowed HGH to be tested made clear that a first time violation for HGH would be exactly four games. It is unclear if evidence unrelated to testing would allow the NFL to place in the player in the steroids program like it would for substance abuse (see, e.g., Shane Ray for his weed citation before the 2015 NFL Draft that allowed him to fall to the Broncos). But we would be potentially talking about evidence that dates back four years, as the HuffPost for its part links Manning specifically to the year 2011.
  • And if 2011 is the only year in question, and if positive tests are required for any discipline under the steroids program, it’s highly likely that any punishment of any implicated player could violate the terms of the CBA. And in Manning’s case, even if retroactive punishment is allowed, it’s highly unlikely it would actually affect him unless he makes the increasingly odd choice to attempt to play in 2016.
  • Finally, it should be noted that nothing in the HuffPost article implicates either the Colts or Broncos organizations. That should go without saying, but I have a feeling that the Patriots fanbase is going to make yet another comparison of every possible allegation of NFL wrongdoing to Deflategate—with the added ingredient of the endless Manning-Brady debate resulting in a particularly intense round of rationalization.

Bengals/Broncos Final Injury Reports

It’s been known for a while that Andy Dalton will miss the big game in Denver.  But the Bengals will also be down at least one, and perhaps two other important players:

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No Suspension Coming For Cody Wallace

He did, however, get fined.

I’ll add what Andrew Mason and Jeff Legwold had to say, because both hit the nail on the head.

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Broncos Wednesday Practice Notes

* Peyton Manning did not practice. I think it’s clear he won’t take another snap for the regular season. Looks like the KC game will be his last game with the Broncos, unless the Broncos make the playoffs (good chance) and he is able to practice and the team starts him (slim chance).

* T.J. Ward returned to practice. Looks like he’ll be on track to start Monday vs. the Bengals.

* Others not practicing were Darian Stewart, Omar Bolden and Todd Davis. For those three, the key is if they practice by Friday.

Four Broncos Named To Pro Bowl

In addition, four other Broncos were named as alternates: Demaryius Thomas, Louis Vasquez, Brandon Marshall and TJ Ward.

Perhaps most important, however, was the omission of both Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson, not even as alternates.  The only reason that’s important is because it may very slightly reduce their value on the open market should they hit free agency in 2016.

David Bruton Played With A Broken Fibula During The Steelers Game

4-6 weeks doesn’t necessarily end Bruton’s season, but it sure seems like the Super Bowl would be the only game that Bruton could have a decent chance of appearing in.  Bruton, for his part, gave a bittersweet message to the fans:

Market For Osweiler May Be Overstated

Call me inspired after taking a few days off from writing, but I wanted to get something in quickly regarding Brock Osweiler and whether or not the market for his services is really going to be as big as some might think it will be.

First of all, we need to remember the season isn’t over yet and that, while Osweiler has had good moments, he’s had his bad moments as well. He’s not yet in the category of where Colin Kaepernick once was (two NFC title games and a Super Bowl trip), and not in the category of what Andy Dalton was when he signed his extension (playoff trip every year he started). And while Nick Foles got a nice extension, he already had two full seasons as a starter under his belt, while Osweiler will have no more than seven regular-season starts this year.

Second, it’s not just a matter of teams throwing money at a quarterback just to do so. A team that is going to throw money at a QB is going to be a team that’s desperate to get over the hump and has a regime that senses its necks are on the line in 2016 if it doesn’t do something big. Furthermore, no team is going to give Osweiler big money if it already has money tied up in a quarterback, is developing its own QB, considering extending a current QB or won’t have the cap space to play such a game.
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The Morning After: Answering A Few Questions

If any words were to describe yesterday’s outing by the Denver Broncos against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it would be “mixed bag.”

The problem, of course, is the first half was mostly positive while the second half was mostly one we’d like to forget.

I don’t think anyone who is frustrated would feel as bad if it had been a back-and-forth game in which the Steelers happened to get the game-winning drive and the Broncos’ final drive fell short. Instead, we get a “tale of two halves” narrative and we are ready to throw everyone under the bus.
Continue reading The Morning After: Answering A Few Questions