The Peyton Protection Plan in regards to HGH accusations is a duplicitous farce
Jim Nantz stands by Peyton Manning. Not that we should be surprised.
The moment should have carried a healthy level of shaming, when the CBS NFL play-by-play man announced to a captive audience Sunday afternoon that Peyton Manning was the story heading into the 2015 NFL playoffs after Sunday’s emergence from the bench. But instead the pronouncement highlighted everything so duplicitous about any recent fawning over the Denver Broncos quarterback.
Manning was 5 of 9 after relieving Brock Osweiler in Sunday’s win over the San Diego Chargers, a victory that locked the Broncos in as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. He had an 80.3 passing rating, which, to be fair, was his fourth-highest of what will go down as the worst season of his Hall of Fame career.That didn’t stop Nantz from his typical deification of Manning
, likening the return to the resurrection of a career many presumed dead, and one that still might be.As for that whole HGH business? The story Nantz and partner Phil Simms ignored for the entirety of the broadcast —
as did every other football show to grace a TV screen Sunday afternoon? Nah.“If we talk about it we would only continue to breathe life into a story that on all levels is a non-story,” Because he is a friend of the Quarterback . . . of . . . DESTinY
Nantz said on WFAN Sunday morning. “Why add another layer to it?”
OK, Jim. Well here’s another layer for you instead. As the New York Daily News reported Tuesday, Manning and Nantz share more than a love for Sony TVs and Papa John’s pizza. Both men have appeared in commercials together. Turns out Nantz is represented by sports broadcasting agent Sandy Montag, who has represented Manning in some off-field deals over the past decade.
There’s more. “Montag also helped Ari Fleischer, hired by Manning a day after Al Jazeera’s “The Dark Side” became public, launch his White Plains sports communications firm in 2004 after the former White House flak left President George W. Bush’s administration. Sports Business Journal reported in 2014 that the Montag Group, the agent’s consulting firm, would team up with Ari Fleischer Sports Communications to offer joint services.”
Not to single Nantz out for his refusal to besmirch Saint Peyton, because CBS colleagues Simms and Boomer Esiason (who expressed his distrust in Al Jazeera Monday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub), as well as any other league partner from NBC, Fox, or ESPN, also avoided the topic over the weekend as if it were a tomato in Tom Brady’s kitchen. But Nantz has never been shy of his admiration for Manning
, a glee that unmistakably drools from his chin straight through the television airwaves on any given Sunday.Is this Manning/HGH situation only a “non-story” because business partner Nantz and the rest of his “Protect the Shield” cronies refuse it to make it one
, whether that’s by directive of commissioner Roger Goodell or out of respect for the quarterback, who remains the face (and forehead) of the league despite his putrid performance this past season?
Only a few hours after Nantz’s much-ridiculed statement from WFAN made the rounds on Monday, CNN leaked news that there is, in fact, a second anonymous source that has confirmed the original documentary’s findings on Manning.
Then, on Tuesday, the New York Times’ Michael Powell made a connection between Charles Sly and the athletes named in the report. “With the help of my New York Times colleagues Ken Belson and Doris Burke,” Powell writes, “I scrutinized the list of names, and it soon appeared less random than at first blush. Nearly all of the athletes he named are clients of Jason Riley, a fitness trainer based in Sarasota, Fla. Here is where the story of Charles Sly becomes more intriguing. Sly is a business partner of Riley’s. When Sly applied for a pharmacist license in Florida, he used Riley’s home address.”
But. No story. Peyton got mad and everything.
This isn’t anything new, folks, and it all has just as much to do with protecting the Manning myth as it does making sure the Broncos QB doesn’t have his name embroiled in scandal.
The way you heard Nantz tell the story on Sunday, Manning’s emergence in the game was some heroic effort, even though he only passed for 69 yards. Shiloh Keo picked off Philip Rivers and Ronnie Hillman ran for a 23-yard touchdown to help the Broncos clinch home-field advantage. The Biblical version, i.e., the King James (Nantz) Edition, had Manning leading the Herculean charge.
Again. Five-of-nine passing.
Manning of course, has been one-and-done in the playoffs nine times in his 14-year NFL career.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King likened it to paranoia last week when discussing how New Englanders were treating the Manning news while their own quarterback, Tom Brady, is still on the doorstep to more Deflategate insanity coming up in March. King, like Manning family friend Chris Mortensen of ESPN, essentially threw his arms up in the air with the excuse of “no way,” one that seems to be good enough for most in the NFL. “Oh, Manning said he didn’t do it? Nothing to see here then.”
Now, when in the whole, wide, world of performance-enhancing drugs accusations have we heard denials like Manning’s before? Right. Every single damned time.
But instead of casting a curious eye, these bastions of NFL journalism instead protect their man for the good of his legacy, not to mention, in the case of Nantz, the nature of representation.Ponder this; Can you even envision Goodell going up against Manning in a court of law fighting for the truth like he did last summer with Brady?
Hell, the scenario in which the commissioner suspends Manning four games for using HGH isn’t even a remote possibility. Manning, despite his lone Super Bowl victory to go along with a string of January gaffes, is still football royalty. Brady, despite his quartet of Lombardis, doesn’t have the pedigree that Manning does, an outsider of sorts in a league that can tend to be incestuous.
Manning sells football food. Pizza, man. Brady hawks fancy watches and slippers. Which one do you think would be better served as the face of the league for the common fan? You take down Manning, you take down Papa John, who has a significant advertising presence locked up in the NFL. Uggs? Who gives a damn?
As with most cases in this NFL, Manning’s protection comes down to cash as much as it does legacy, which means the league will eschew the embarrassment of sweeping it under the rug in exchange for making its advertisers happy.Why do you think it took an unaffiliated outfit like Al Jazeera to do the report in the first place?The Boston Pravda