Why aren’t we treating Peyton Manning like Tom Brady?

 It’s time for ESPN to take Peyton Manning’s HGH allegations more seriously.

Cheaters, Fedoras, Money, and Manipulation

ESPN is like a West Virginian ten-year-old who just discovered and lit up on his father’s methamphetamine stash. He’s saying a hell of a lot of things, but really has no clue what he’s talking about. It’s interesting though, like watching a car crash or an argument between two drunk guys at a bar. You want to look away, but at the same time you really want to see where it goes. Everyone loves a good fall from grace, as long as it’s the right person.

I’m not suggesting everyone at ESPN is on drugs, that would be irresponsible and reprehensible. It’s probably worth giving them the benefit of the doubt, as they so graciously did for Peyton Manning, the true Golden Boy of the NFL.

It’s completely normal for a 35-year-old quarterback to have spinal fusion surgery, have doctors say they’re not sure if he’ll ever play another snap, sign with a new team, throw 37 touchdowns, and have one of the best seasons in football history the following year, right?

It’s reminiscent of how normal it was for Roger Clemens to sign with a new team, cut his ERA in half, and add another eight miles per hour to his fastball. It was definitely normal when Barry Bonds, at 36-years-old, who had never hit 50 home runs in a season, hit 73:

But what’s not normal? What should be first on a list of priorities for a national news organization? Air pressure in footballs? Some hack Indianapolis beat writer named Bob Kravitz with a hard on for Spygate broke the infamous Deflategate story about a year ago, and ESPN has been riding his coattails ever since.

They set out to destroy Tom Brady, and he could’ve bent over and accepted his punishment, but instead he fought and clawed and led an injured, battered, wreck of an offense to a fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game. It was poetry, and he deserved a better ending.

The media firestorm, created by Kravitz and perpetuated by ESPN, Roger Goodell, and countless sports personalities across the country, is the epitome of hypocrisy when compared to the relative inaction levied against Peyton Manning by a credible news source called Al Jazeera.

 Peyton Manning has thrown 140 touchdown passes since returning from neck surgery in 2012, which is the second most in the NFL behind Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, who has thrown 147.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated is reporting that the NFL will in fact investigate Al Jazeera’s claim that Peyton Manning received performance enhancing drugs in his wife’s name from an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic. But you won’t see that headlining ESPN’s website, and you certainly won’t see it on SportsCenter anytime before the Super Bowl. Conveniently, the NFL won’t start it’s investigation of Manning until after Cam Newton and the Panthers pulverize the Broncos and send him limping into the sunset.

This is the second year in a row that one of the NFL’s two most popular players has been accused of cheating in the weeks leading up to the biggest event in sports. It’s only natural to wonder why one of them, with far less evidence against him to speak of, is crucified, while the other has been given a hero’s sendoff. Is it because Tom Brady wears a fedora? He does, I’ve seen it. It’s troubling to see someone hung out to dry simply because he occasionally dresses like a douche, but I’m going to give ESPN the benefit of the doubt and say that’s not the reason.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons why probably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL is now labeled a cheater. Ultimately, it boils down to who is consuming the perpetual vomit ESPN spits up every day. The quintessential ESPN-watcher is an uneducated, over medicated, unfocused consumer of information.

We as Americans have lost our ability to look at things with a critical eye. We’ve become too focused on superficial nuanced crap like flashy graphics, top 10’s, falls from grace, or the outfits Tom Brady or Russell Westbrook wear in their postgame press conferences. We trusted Disney, NBC Universal, CBS Corporation, and News Corp. We trusted, we blinked, we took a nap, and now the pigs are rolling in the proverbial crap, and trouncing it throughout our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, laptops, tablets, and phones.

Journalism has become part of the big machine, a machine which the aforementioned were supposed to protect us from. We all took the blue pill and forgot their business model, like every other company in the world, is to take our money. And baby, business is good.

Peyton Manning is head and shoulders above any other NFL player in terms of commercial appeal. As much as you might want to, it’s impossible to escape the endless ads featuring that lovable southerner with the giant forehead.

He might be watching DirecTV, obsessing over insurance, drinking Gatorade, or slinging pizzas. Speaking of pizzas, the NFL raked in $1.15 billion from sponsorships in 2014. Their fourth biggest sponsor? Papa John’s. A whopping 52 percent of NFL properties claim them as a sponsor. They’re a cash cow, and the NFL wants to continue milking that giant forehead for all it’s worth.

Like Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Michael Vick, should Manning be found guilty of wrongdoing, all that money goes away. That’s why you shouldn’t expect a $3 million investigation from the commissioner’s office into the claims of Al Jazeera, much less a four game suspension.

So why isn’t ESPN asking these same questions? That’s what good journalists are supposed to do. That’s what programs like Outside the Lines are supposed to exist for. It’s because they’re in bed with the NFL, who’s in bed with Peyton Manning, in some sort of weird, twisted orgy. And who’s the first to get screwed?


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