The narrative of the national sports media never ceases to astound me.

On false reports and leaks to well-placed reporters, Tom Brady and the Patriots were villainized, accused of cheating, and became a national story leading the evening newscasts.

The media was eager to lap it up and proclaim Brady and the Patriots guilty and demand their removal from the Super Bowl and the record books.

Within days, the majority of people believed without reservation that the Patriots had cheated. For many of those, nothing that came afterwards would sway their opinion.

During the Super Bowl broadcast, the topic came up numerous times – even with under two minutes left to play and the game on the line.

Over an alleged few puffs of air –  of which, the veracity of such claims has been proven to extremely questionable.

The case against Tom Brady involved false leaks to reporters, a sham investigation which has been mocked by scientists and a federal judge and lies by the Commissioner of the NFL.

Now we come to Peyton Manning.

A report comes out linking Manning to Human Growth Hormone. The initial report comes from Al Jazeera, which, fair or not, probably plays a part in the perception of the story.

After numerous neck surgeries, including one overseas because no one here in the U.S. would perform it, Manning was treated by a doctor with a checkered past, who had a history of putting his patients on HGH. Manning’s wife was also a patient and shipments were sent in her name to the Manning house.

The difference in coverage between Boston and Indianapolis of two stories which have some similarities is startling. Both involve a star quarterback and someone with a sketchy past who has helped with their recovery from major injury and/or training.

The Indianapolis Star has dug into the past of Dr. Dale Guyer and advanced the story admirably, but have been very careful to not to tarnish the reputation of Peyton Manning, keeping his (and his wife’s) involvement on the periphery of the story.

The Boston Globe (and Boston Magazine) dug into the past of Alex Guerrero with the sole purpose of trying to tarnish the reputation of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This was reflected in the tone of article and the insinuations that besides legal issues, the situation was violating the NFL salary cap, of all things.

In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz, who was spoon-fed the deflategate scoop by a malicious NFL source, and proudly proclaimed it the biggest story of his career – had actually been treated by the same Dr Guyer, and had been prescribed HGH – but didn’t deem it worthy of any sensationalism.

Old friend Gregg Doyel who was at the forefront of the pitchfork-wielding mob that was out to lynch Brady, (and to this day – literally, today – still believes it.) has had only one stance on this Manning story.

Can you fathom a writer, any writer tweeting, “I ride with 12.” ?

Nationally though, this Manning report, is not being viewed with the skepticism that we would’ve hoped the whole deflategate case would’ve been, even though there is more evidence here that something happened then there was ever on the deflategate case.

When the original source of the story Charles Sly recanted his story after it became public – his original claims having been filmed by an undercover reporter – out of fear, embarrassment, or whatever, many people took that as enough evidence that the story was bogus. When Manning told reporters how angry he was about the report, for many, well, that was all they needed to dismiss the story, despite several very compelling unanswered questions.

It’s interesting to see the media used in the opposite way from the Brady case in this Manning case. Take, for instance, the fact the when the Broncos were playing a national game on CBS, this story was not mentioned at all.

On purpose.

This is what Jim Nantz said when asked why he didn’t mention it:


Al Jazeera says there is a second, “impeccably placed” source to back up the network’s recent assertion that human growth hormone shipments were provided to Peyton Manning’s wife.

Let’s pose a hypothetical:

Instead of deflategate last January, what if it came out that during his recovery from the ACL tear in 2008, that shipments of HGH were sent to Tom Brady’s house, addressed to Giselle.

What would the reaction have been? Would the national media have called it “a story that on all levels is a non-story?

I think we know the answer.

Finally, this week, a large media outlet looked into this story The New York Times set about Finding a Common Thread in the Al Jazeera Doping Report

With the help of my New York Times colleagues Ken Belson and Doris Burke, I scrutinized the list of names, and it soon appeared less random than at first blush. Nearly all of the athletes Sly named are clients of Jason Riley, a fitness trainer based in Sarasota, Fla.

Riley and Sly founded Elementz Nutrition and had an impressive stable of big time athletes using them.

The conclusions are very interesting. On the undercover interview with Sly:

But what to make of Sly? In the end, this story hinges on his credibility. A man who operates in the athletic shadows, he was confronted with his hours of undercover interviews and recanted. He proclaimed himself an idle boaster.

What was he supposed to do, if what he had said was true? Acknowledge it and allow his words to become his manacles?

Mitosomal growth factors, stem cells and pig brain peptide: He talked of all with a chemist’s ease. His network, as he described it, extends from Germany and Switzerland to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Chad Robertson, a pharmacist, said Sly was a savant of doping.

The other obvious question is, if he really was a savant of doping, and knew all these things, why would he just boast about random athletes even if he was just trying to look impressive to the person he was talking to?

So is anyone going to do anything about it?

The Al Jazeera documentary was only the latest report to reveal sports doping as a spider’s web that stretches across continents and oceans. You wonder if the pro league chieftains, Rob Manfred in baseball and the N.F.L. sachem Roger Goodell, have paid attention, and have the stomach to pursue these strands.

Then comes the killshot. A brilliant way to end the story, as it is a true drop-the-mic ending.

They might want to hurry. Last week, Elementz Nutrition voluntarily dissolved and closed its doors.

Remember the NFL leak to Stephen A Smith about how Tom Brady destroyed his phone? A leak that was completely malicious, and designed to again taint public perception because it was scandalous on the surface, yet immaterial to the case. Yet people still bring it up. Just a few days ago Mark Schlereth, while trolling Patriots fans, brought it up.

In this Manning case, the company owned by the source of the story shut its doors. Think about that. The entire company! You can image the paper-shredding and hard-drive erasing that is going on there.

Yet, where is this story? Jim Nantz won’t talk about it on CBS. ESPN hasn’t published a single thing about this story since December 29th.(Too busy breaking federal laws?) NBC put out Manning’s side of the story giving him the chance to tell Peter King how angry he was about it. How he was “probably” going to sue. Which he hasn’t done yet, despite two other athletes doing so already.

Like Chris Price wrote, I don’t care if Peyton Manning took HGH to aid his recovery from injury. Athletes do what they need to do to keep their careers going. I don’t really begrudge them that.

For me, this story isn’t really about Manning. It’s about the coverage of the allegations and the blatant hypocrisy of many in the national media. Once again, they’re showing their true colors, this time by their silence.


38 thoughts on “Brady vs Manning – Rivals Even In Media Hypocrisy

  1. Maybe it is because Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are just better at getting their teams in better field goal position than Andrew Luck is, maybe Pagano likes to roll the dice more than Belichick, Dungy, and Caldwell by asking Vinatieri to try the longer FG’s and Vinatieri just continues to be clutch, or maybe it is something else. I don’t know but I found it odd that Vinatieri is 15/21 from greater than 50 yards since 2012. In Indy from 2006 to 2011 he was 4 of 8 from greater than 50 years. In total from ’96 to 2011 he was 12 of 25.


  2. In thinking about this…what astonishes me is that management at ESPN, CBS, NBC and Fox have to know…they just have to know…how absolutely stupid they look on the Brady story and their coverage of it in relation to the Manning story. I am more of an optimist than most…I think the fact that Deborah Davies keeps doing interviews and outlets are digging into Sly, Guyer and others tells me the story has legs and there is more to drop.

    As an aside…Bruce…I do not think any shredding is going on…i think Sly and Guyer have a fireproof safe somewhere with the delivery records…its their insurance in case one or two of the athletes decide to “talk”.

    The big boys absolutely do not want to cover this story. I honestly do not think it is because Manning is snared. They do not want to cover it because they know 40+% of the NFL, MLB and probably the NBA will be caught up in the scandal. That would destroy their ability to make a living. However because of Deborah Davies and her meticulousness there are outlets looking into the story. As more pieces come out…more of the spiderweb will unwind. As that happens the house of cards will start to fall. The thing is if this happens without ESPN or the networks then they look foolish. They already know they look dumb from deflate gate. Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and AP. They are walking a fine line now…they do not want to cover this story but they may be forced to. So it will be interesting to see how they do their jobs while still protecting the shield.


      1. Didn’t DVN, Jr. tease another “bombshell” OTL piece right after the one they dropped, complete with 90+ anonymous sources, that apparently lead to everyone, including kids with cancer from the JImmy Fund, providing evidence they cheated?

        Still haven’t seen it.


        1. I like how, with the Manning story, the reporter says “We have a second, anonymous source who confirms what Charlie Sly said” and the general reaction is “An anonymous source? That proves nothing. Get out of here.”

          These are the same people who completely believed the Wickersham/Van Atta and SI stories in September, which were based 100% on anonymous sources.


  3. Great write up Bruce!

    “They might want to hurry. Last week, Elementz Nutrition voluntarily dissolved and closed its doors.” How in the world does that not raise suspicion?

    Absolutely disgusting double standard the way the two stories and treatment of Brady and Manning has played out so far, but it’s not like this is new. Some people (certain actors, politicians, activists, etc.) the media cover for and others they seek to destroy. It’s just the way of the world, but incredibly frustrating when people don’t see the double standard. Thank God we have the Gatekeepers like Peter King!

    My only hope is that someone keeps digging on the HGH story because they may have the story of a lifetime. (Also think there’s an incredible book opportunity on “Deflategate” for someone that wants to rattle the NFL’s cage.)

    If the story is untrue then I hope Manning comes out of it fine. However, much like the Pats taping the Rams practice the allegation will always stick. If the story is true and Manning’s reputation has to take a hit so that the NFL and ESPN burn so be it.


  4. This helps shine a light on how dirty the media is. And heck this is just sports. What about the gun issue this week or the
    ranchers. Thankfully (hopefully!) their
    stranglehold will continue to crumble as new outlets that are not bought and
    paid for can dig deeper. Deadspin,
    Breitbart, (GULP) Al Jezeera (sp), etc.
    As Breitbart alluded to, the media is now each and every one of us with
    a camera phone in our hand. Standing O
    for BB for his disdain for most of the media, but he does know who the good
    ones are.


  5. Let’s not forget Peter King going on Rich Eisen and basically blaming the “inferiority complex” of New England sports fans for making this a bigger story than it should be. But it’s OK for him to say that because he’s a Red Sox fan and lived here for two years.

    Or Boomer Esiason and Mike Ditka calling Al Jazeera a terrorist news corp and they run anti-American stories so that destroys their credbility. Never mind the fact it was a British reporter working for Al-Jazeera AMERICA who did the story.


    1. As much as they try and kill this story…and this is a sentence I thought I would never type…Al Jazeera has a vested interest in running with it. They have little to no credibility in the USA. Here is a story that gets people talking about them. Forget the propaganda for a minute…this story has no roots in the middle east…instead they are doing true investigative journalism, using a a highly competent reporter with an impeccable reputation. This is at some levels the NFL’s worst nightmare….a news organization with absolutely no financial ties to them chasing a story that exposes their biggest stars and does so in a methodical and even handed way. So as much as I detest Al Jazeera on this story they have me hooked. If I am hooked there are fans from 30 other teams hooked as well. Just like the original accusations in MLB….the dam is starting to crack…there is more to this story and it will get out. There may not be direct consequences to Manning, or Green Bay or Ryan Howard but over time the exposure will taint them. Howard’s lawsuit is going to be interesting…why a lawyer would ever let him be deposed is beyond me. So hold on…there is a lot more to this story as much as ESPN and CBS wish it away.


      1. this story has no roots in the middle east

        I thought all those Saudi places had like 200′ custom-built LED TVs and they did nothing but watch RedZone on Sundays?


      2. Did you hear the interview the reporter had with D/C/M? Dino and Kirk, especially, asked good questions but Christ, every time Gerry opened his mouth you hear the bigotry and hate oozing in his voice. He was so condescending with his questions.


          1. To add context, DD laid out 3 questions that no one has asked Manning, and Gerry kept yelling “THEY DID ASK HE SAID HE DIDN’T DO IT!!!”


        1. I agree with Matt below. Gerry was aggressive and uninformed. He would not listen to her answers. He was stuck not he second source question when he could have been asking about Clay Mathews, Mike Zimmerman, Ryan Howard and as well as looking at how the Manning explanation falls apart int he face of her research. John Dennis I thought asked good questions. Davies is right when she says people are focused on the wrong things in this case. Further, she made the same point I made…Al Jazeera is not beholden to MLB or the NFL so they have better credibility than any of the American networks and for that matter most newspapers. Couple her report with what the NYTimes is starting to do and this is going to be a major problem for the NFL and MLB. These players all have indignation and cover stories…what they don’t have is any experience where their rep alone keeps them from trouble. The landscape is littered with fallen stars (too many to list) who have been tainted by the stretch of PEDs however every case…every one…has gone the same way… initial allegation, emphatic emotional denial followed with a concocted “alibi” that strains credibility, followed by more evidence, followed by a fall from grace as the player can’t admit he or she cheated. Here we go.


  6. On the actual topic of the post, I thought Mike Freeman’s tweet summed it up the best:


  7. The media never lets facts get in the way of a good story. They test the winds and print the stuff that fits their version of the truth. To hear their protestations after they have been caught in outright lies is funny. They don’t understand why they are accused of bias. After all, they hate all the right people.


  8. Also look at the firestorm that was going on a few months ago because Brady had the audacity to question Western medicine. Manning goes to Europe for illegal stem cell treatments and there is a collective yawn from the national media while Brady was slammed for taking “Supreme Greens”.


    1. Semi-related, Brady was fortunate no one noticed his friendship with Trump and made a big deal about it.


    2. I don’t know..I don’t think Brady was really slammed that hard, it was a story for a couple of days and then forgotten


  9. Just a thought here. There is no legit reason HGH shouldn’t be widely legal under medical supervision. The benefits far outweigh the negative just like any other prescribed or OTC. It is almost a miracle treatment as to Manning’s comeback from neck injury is proof. They give players painkillers like crazy to mask injuries and pain, HGH treats and heals.


    1. It IS legal under medical supervision… for the medical disorders it treats. And there’s no scientific evidence (i.e. evidence from a controlled test that demonstrates that the drug, and not some outside/coincidental force, caused the benefit observed) that it does any of the “miracles” popular opinion has ascribed to it. There is plenty of evidence, though, that HGH use can lead to liver and kidney issues in patients without pituitary deficiencies.

      Heroin is an awesome, awesome painkiller. But there’s plenty of legit reasons why it shouldn’t be widely legal and available. The same applies for HGH. Doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA aren’t morons.


      1. The FDA might not be morons but they are bought and sold all the time by big pharma. But it is interesting to see someone who still thinks any government agency still has people’s best interest as their primary motivation.


      2. Good point re heroine. Your last sentence not so much. Plenty of morons around. Big pharma is awful scary. Lots of bad doctors. FDA is part of government nuff said.


  10. As overnight FSR host Ben Maller (this guy is, honestly, a breath of fresh entertaining air) stated, the defamation lawsuits of Zimmerman and Howard will give this story legs into the future.


    1. Maller is the best. Most of the time doesn’t take himself or sports too seriously but when he does he usually hits a homerun on whatever topic. He was defending the wall all summer and he’s not even a Pats fan. I remember him filling in for Mikey back in 2010-2011 when FSR let him go.


      1. The only reason I look forward to leaving the Cape at 4:30AM for a trafficless drive to Boston is the opportunity to be dazzeled by a Maller 15 minute dissertation on the sports news of the day or his, actually, entertaining callers (a real rarity). Another interesting point about Maller is that he is the only host who had the balls to discuss the Fan Duel etc. Issues of today despite the overwhelming ad blitz on his own show (picture Floyds boy Felger and his ilk doing the same). Too bad that more people know nothing about him.


        1. Is he even on locally in Boston? I live in Minneapolis so I listen on KFAN which is an FSR affiliate. TSH is CBS and isn’t WEEI, ESPN?


          1. Terrestrial would be WEEI 96.3 Cape Cod till 5:30 (then 1/2 hr dcm replay) or 1430 am low wattage out of Everett 2-6am. Or podcast. Hidden gem. Hard to find. Seriously for the anti cliche sports/media fan, it’s a loss.


  11. In related news, I speak more kindly of the women whom I’ve seen naked compared to the women who laughed and told me to go eff myself.


  12. On a peripheral sports note David Portnoy sold a majority stake in Barstool Sports to a communications outfit that plans to take it to the next level. Good for the local guy.


    1. Just watched the emergency press conference. Sounds like the whole crew (Pres, Big Cat, KMarko, KFC, etc) are relocating to Manhattan.


        1. They plan on doing more stuff together. Content will be uploaded faster. You won’t see the same topic blogged about 3x in 15 minutes.


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