Peyton Manning is retiring. After 18 seasons, five MVPs, and two Super Bowl titles, including last month’s stunning upset over the Carolina Panthers, Manning has decided to call it quits.
But will his disappearing act into the sunset forgive new allegations of HGH use and wrong doings as a member of the University of Tennessee almost 20 years ago?
As reported by USA Today, Manning has informed the Broncos that he’ll be retiring after 18 seasons.
“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team,” Broncos general manager John Elway said in a statement. “Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more — not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”
That career included a squeaky clean image prior to this season. But in December, explosive allegations emerged in a documentary that was featured on the now defunct Al Jazeera America channel. The film claimed Manning had ordered HGH in order to heal quicker from neck injuries that nearly derided his career.
“In one scene, [the key witness named] Sly implied that Manning took human growth hormone prescribed by an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic and shipped to Manning’s wife, Ashley,” the Washington Post reported. Since the allegations first surfaced however, Sly has recanted on his claims that Peyton and other pro athletes like Ryan Howard ordered illegal substances like HGH.
Manning apparently also made sure to perform his own investigation into the allegations made against him, sending private investigators to the home of the “informant” prior to the documentary airing to gather his own intel.
While this story seems to have blown over, at least where the public’s concerned anyway, Manning also had to deal with a story thought long-buried from his playing days as a member of the University of Tennessee football team involving the school’s trainer, Dr. Jamie Naughright.
The report indicated that Peyton may have sexually harassed Naughright in the training room back when he was the star quarterback of the team, an incident that was then apparently covered up by the university.
The initial incident, as reported by the New York Daily News found Manning allegedly placing his genitals on top of Dr. Naughright’s head, according to her account. But Peyton refuted those claims, instead saying he was playing a practical joke on the doctor. The incident was otherwise swept under the rug until now.
According to MMBQ however, Peyton may have someone in his corner, namely ex-teammate Greg Johnson who has stepped forward to back Manning’s claims that it was all a misunderstood practical joke.
“Saxon walks in, and Peyton was the kind of guy who had to be friendly with everyone; he wanted to include everyone, from his teammates to the cross country guy. He says hey to Saxon and pulls down the back of his shorts, and I saw one butt cheek, and then he pulled his pants up. And Jamie said something like, ‘Aw, you’re an ass.’ Then I left. Thought nothing of it.”
Regardless, it appears Manning will walk away from the game with more people talking about his on-the-field accomplishments rather than his off-the-field alleged transgressions. And why not? Greatness does come along all that often.
In the end, with Peyton retiring, his record-breaking stats are all anybody’s really going to remember.
[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]