Monday, December 28, 2015

If You're Gonna Go At the King, You Best Not Miss

I hope for Al Jazeera America's sake they are willing to stand by the less-than-reputable sources they used for their documentary on illegal use of Human Growth Hormones and prescription painkillers in the NFL--because all hell is going to be raining down upon them.  Peyton Manning--whom the report claims purchased HGH through his wife from the Indianapolis clinic--is already saying he will sue for defamation.  Three Packers named in the story as well--Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neale--all issued denials as well (although Neale did use the old "I can neither confirm nor deny" line with reporters on Sunday).

The problem with producing a truly bullet-proof type of report on steroid and painkiller abuse like this is that the people you need to talk to about it are pretty scummy themselves.  Many have criminal records.  They don't keep business records--as a way of protecting their clients--and they can be paid off to later recant or even lie under oath if matters are ever brought before a court.  And that has been the defense nearly all of the major American sports have used to fend off previous attempts to document drug use by players.  Remember the lowlifes involved in the Barry Bonds case? 

About the only thing sports fans are willing to accept are positive drug tests administered by the leagues themselves--which the drug suppliers know they can beat most of the time.  But even then--as was the case with Ryan Braun--fans (and the media) are willing to give the player the benefit of the doubt if he makes strong enough denials (or makes up stuff about being framed by an anti-Semitic, Cubs fan urine sample handler).

In the case of the NFL, spreading around the billions generated by the sport provides insulation from prying eyes as well.  There's a reason Al Jazerra America was willing to go public with an hour-long special on football players using hormones and painkillers--because their is no Thursday night, or Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon, or Sunday night or Monday night football on Al Jazeera America.  And there was likely never going to be--so what did that network (and its parent corporation) have to lose by taking a shot at the King of All Sports?

And what will be the response of sports fans even if all of the allegations contained in the documentary are true?  A slight roll of the eyes before logging back onto their fantasy football website to see who are the "best picks" for this week's games.  NFL fans just plain don't care if their favorites are on the juice or are using painkillers without a doctor's prescription.  Just so long as they are out there "scoring points for them" is all that matters.

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