Reimer: Hard to imagine Tom Brady skating on HGH allegation like Peyton Manning

Alex Reimer
June 04, 2018 - 2:46 pm

Imagine if a documentary that ties Tom Brady to human growth hormone was released just before the NFL playoffs. The report, which is produced by a reputable news organization, features an on-camera interview with a pharmacist who claims to have sent HGH to Brady’s house. 

Would the allegation disappear within days, or dominate the news cycle for weeks on end? Considering Brady playing with under-inflated footballs was the biggest story in the country, and resulted in a four-game suspension, the answer is obvious. 

Peyton Manning, however, is granted much more leniency. The national sports media largely dismissed Al Jazeera’s late 2015 report, taking Manning’s denial at face value. Two-and-a-half years later, they’re doing it again.

The Hollywood Reporter published documents Friday pertaining to baseball players Ryan Zimmermann’s and Ryan Howard’s defamation lawsuits against Al Jazeera. They were also named in the film, and much like Manning, rebuke the claims. But unlike Manning, they took the step to sue, opening themselves up to discovery. They must not feel like they have anything to hide.

One portion of the filing contains an explosive anecdote about Manning. It says Manning’s attorneys backed up claims made by Charlie Sly, the pharmacist who says he sent HGH to Manning’s house in 2011, while the quarterback was recovering from neck surgery. According to Sly, the HGH was shipped under the name of Manning’s wife, so he wouldn’t be tied to the substance. 

Wow. Al Jazeera is claiming in court documents that Manning’s camp confirmed one of the most prolific passers in NFL history used HGH. In other words, he cheated.

But the resuscitated story disappeared quickly Friday, once Manning released a statement forcefully denying the accusation. Now it’s gone again.

There are big holes in Sly’s claim. Most of all, he recanted his statement about Manning once the video was released. The founder of the anti-aging clinic that allegedly sent HGH to Manning’s home says Sly never worked there and only interned for three months in 2013. There is hardly any damning evidence. In July 2016, five months after Manning’s Super Bowl win with the Broncos, the NFL concluded it couldn’t credibly tie its all-time leading passer to performance-enhancing drugs.

But there are some curious circumstances and coincidences. Remember, Sly’s bizarre videotaped confession only came after Manning’s private investigators had went to his parents’ home. Sly's parents were so spooked, they called 911 and said Manning’s people falsely represented themselves as law enforcement officials.

So the timing of Sly’s disavowal was strange. Al Jazeera also released a recording of a phone call with the head of the anti-aging clinic in question, in which he confirms Sly’s stint there in 2011. Without digging too deeply, we know Manning’s goons lied about their identities and showed up at Sly’s parents’ house to question them. We also know the guy at the anti-aging clinic fibbed about his association with Sly. 

Oh, and Manning admits he and his wife were patients at the clinic. Ashley Manning even cops to receiving a prescription from the place

It is understandable why most people outside of New England roll their eyes when we relitigate the interminable Deflategate saga. But it is amazing that Brady’s reputation was destroyed over sketchy science, a destroyed cell phone and videotape of a low-level Patriots employee going to the bathroom with a bag of footballs. Meanwhile, Manning skates free, despite court documents that allege his lawyers say he used HGH –– never mind the bevy of other circumstantial evidence that exists.

Manning is long retired, so it’s absurd to ask the NFL reopen an investigation into him. But nothing is prohibiting the NFL media from looking at the case again, or at least discussing it. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa must wish they were afforded this kind of benevolence.  

That’s the double-standard here. Manning is afforded more latitude than most of his contemporaries. It sounds like a juvenile exercise, but all you have to do is substitute Brady for Manning to see that’s the case. Even look at the way the quarterbacks’ ties to President Trump have been categorized. Manning golfed with Trump and spoke alongside him at a GOP retreat last year. Brady had a hat in his locker and said early in the campaign he hoped Trump would win, because then a putting green would be on the White House lawn.

Yet, Brady was portrayed as an ardent Trump supporter during the campaign, and not the registered Republican who has a history of donating to GOP politicians. Weird.

Manning receives the adulation without taking the heat. Must be nice. 

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