Tom Brady gets killed; Peyton Manning gets a pass
by John Furgele
My dad told me long ago that life isn’t always fair. I tell the same thing to my kids, because they often use that statement about how I parent, playing time in sports and treatment by teachers and friends. In sports, it’s also true. Some players are magnets; every move is followed, reported on and dissected, especially in this era of tabloid journalism where reporting on Twitter has replaced real investigative journalism.
There was a recent report that legendary quarterback Peyton Manning received shipments of HGH to help him recover from neck surgery. The story was reported by Al Jazeera and right away was dismissed because of what many call a “credibility issue.” Remember, most in the sports business don’t even know what Al-Jazeera is even though they have a cable channel just like “credible” news networks like CNN and Fox do.
Think about this. When this story was reported, it was immediately sent to the back burner, but when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots allegedly deflated footballs, it was the talk of the town—for eight months. Seriously!
CBS’ Jim Nantz refused to bring up the HGH report on last Sunday’s telecast of the Broncos-Chargers game. And, that made sense at first because Brock Osweiler was the starter, but when Manning entered the game in the third quarter, Nantz stayed silent. In some ways, maybe that’s not a bad thing, but come on, it had to be addressed. All Nantz really had to say was “there have been reports that Manning received HGH while recovering from neck surgery a few years ago. Details are at a minimum right now, but I’m sure that the NFL and CBS will keep following this story.” Then, they could have got right back to the game, a game that the Broncos needed to secure home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs.
What makes a story these days? Why is Johnny Manziel’s immaturity a story, yet a potential shipment to Peyton Manning’s wife not? Why is deflating footballs a story and Manning’s HGH not? And, why is using HGH to recover from surgery wrong? If you or I had the surgery, wouldn’t a doctor consider prescribing HGH? Why wasn’t that discussed at all on the games and pre-game shows. If you were diagnosed with Lyme, you would be prescribed steroids. Would that make you a drug cheat in sports?
When Mike Piazza was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, he was asked about the rumors that he used PEDs during his playing career, yet Peyton Manning receives immunity, or worse, he is believed without anybody digging in to the story?
The national sports media spent from January through September on Brady and deflating footballs. The NFL lost in court, but said that it will appeal, yet they apparently will take Manning’s word over HGH usage? Why and how does this make sense? And, during the “deflategate,” mess, there were plenty of other sports to talk about like the NCAA tournament, the opening of baseball, the Kentucky Derby and the NBA and NHL playoffs, yet air pressure in footballs ruled the airways. Why not focus on sports? Why not, indeed?
The other problem is with social media. Today, budgets are small and rather than devote the time and resources to investigative journalism, it’s hurry up and be first, get it on Twitter before the competition does. If you watched the movie Spotlight, you saw the power of investigative journalism. And, in the movie, there was a chance that the new editor was going to scrap that department to save money.
Remember Jerry Sandusky, now in prison for molesting young boys while coaching at Penn State? That story was broken by the The Patriot-News, in Harrisburg PA. The reporter, Sara Ganim won a Pulitizer Prize. Today, the paper only delivers and publishes three days a week and relies on its polluted website for Central Pennsylvanians to get their news. And, these websites are extremely frustrating to navigate. Some stories appear to be new, but are actually several days old. The print edition may feature one-day old news, but at least you can sort it out. And, because they only print three papers per week, they only offer three e-editions or relipicas per week as well. How much longer until they become online only, like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did in 2009?
The Detroit Free Press does the same thing, but offers seven e-editions per week. The point is why can’t Al-Jazeera be credible? They may have more resources and journalists than our respected newspapers do? If the Patriot-News can’t afford to publish seven papers per week, can they afford to allow a reporter to spend months investigating a story and not writing her daily or weekly stories and columns?
Again, it comes down to being fair and even though we know life isn’t fair, we hold reporting at a higher level. If the outlets can spend months reporting on deflated footballs, can’t they look into Peyton Manning and HGH? Yahoo Sports sent Dan Wetzel to cover the Aaron Hernandez trial. Was that necessary and cost effective? ESPN did the same, yet gave over 300 workers the pink slip last fall. Wetzel has written a column on air pressure for footballs for the Vikings-Seahawks game that will be played in frigid temps, yet has written nothing on Manning-HGH. I’m not sure if that’s Wetzel’s fault or that he was told by his editor to avoid the topic, but the one thing that means nothing here is footballs for a playoff game. This isn’t the first football game to be played in arctic conditions and it certainly won’t be the last.
The easy thing is to “turn everything off,” you know; if you don’t like sports talk radio, just listen to something else. That sounds easy, but if you follow sports, you have to go to places to get news, so you have tune in, read websites and try to navigate newspaper websites. The same goes for news. You tune into CNN to get news, but if it’s Donald Trump all the time, you’re allowed to show frustrations whether you like him or not.
I better find Al-Jazeera and add it my favorites; at least they’re investigating stories.