It’s Okay If You Believe That Peyton Manning Used HGH
If you are listening to the majority of writers and pundits and television media right now, then you probably feel as if the mere consideration of the possibility that Peyton Manning used performance-enhancing drugs is blasphemy.
There are many fans out there that honestly don't have any idea whether or not they should believe what they are hearing. They don't know how to disseminate what is worth taking a second look at for themselves, and what should be tossed aside as speculation and gossip at best. The reason that they cannot do this is because they've been led astray and misinformed and lied to by athletes and the media so many times in this age of social media that it's become second nature to assume guilt until innocence is proven.
That's not necessarily how things should be, but it's the sad truth about how they are. And no matter how many of the NFL guys over at ESPN tell you otherwise, you've been conditioned to be skeptical of your sports heroes by now.
You don't have to believe the Al Jazeera report about Manning. To be honest, I don't believe it. There isn't nearly enough there to go on. Furthermore, I wouldn't care that much if he had used HGH. But that's an entirely different discussion for another time.
I certainly don't blame you if you aren't convinced of his complete and total innocence, though. Why should you be? How many of the greatest athletes of our time have turned out to be the pillars of society that we all desperately hoped they'd be?
People often try to separate egregious superstar behavior into categories, ranking their offenses on an arbitrary scale of social injustice; as if that has anything to do with the public's trust in their persona. Being shady is being shady. Lying is lying. Breaking the rules is breaking the rules. Fans will likely respond to each individual case based on how much they want to believe in that person; which is basically how we handle anyone in our actual lives who has screwed up. We stand by those we care about and want to succeed, and we hold everyone else more accountable.
And that's fine. That's really the only way to handle it. Taking the stance that any professional athlete is purely incapable of being imperfect - of having lapses in judgement or moments of desperation that cause them to break rules and lie - is just plain stupidity. Anyone can screw up, and do it on a grand scale at that. Plus money and fame generally do nothing to dissuade people from pushing the envelope. Come on now.
There is only one question to be posed in the situation, and it's this: Is Peyton Manning capable of cheating?
It's a yes or no question that only a very small amount of people truly know the answer to. And those people are not the Mike Ditkas and Gregg Doyels of the world; despite all of the self-righteous indignation they've expressed over even having to think about it.
The fact of the matter is that unless you know the man well enough to say definitively that he has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs, then it's okay to wonder. Considering the scale of injury and breakdown that his body has endured since he missed the 2011 NFL season, you'd be a little crazy to not wonder a little; even before all of this bizarre Al Jazeera business.
Michael Jordan turned out to be a man-whore and degenerate gambler.
Tiger Woods turned out to be a pill-popping adulterer.
Lance Armstrong turned out to be a blood-doping pathological liar.
Barry Bonds took all of the steroids.
For god's sake, everything Tom Brady has every achieved on a football field has been under daily scrutiny for a full year because he screwed with the air pressure in his game balls! Shit happens.
It's possible to be an amazing athlete, a philanthropist, a great member of the community, a respected teammate, a hilarious pitchman and also a cheater. None of those are mutually exclusive. They never are. We all have our vices and our secrets. Nobody is 100% the person that we present to the world when we leave our homes and the tight knit circles of our closest friends and family.
As far as I know, Peyton Manning is a fallible human being just like everyone else. That doesn't mean he cheated or that he deserves to be harassed over what amounts to only a little more than a rumor. But it does mean that it's okay for you to ask questions, and it's definitely okay for you to believe that he could have done it.
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