Another Icon Could Be Ruined by a Lie

 

A bigger bombshell could not have dropped on a nicer person. However, this star athlete seems to make more headlines while not playing. Peyton Manning, one of the biggest names and faces in football and sports, has been linked to an Al Jazeera report claiming that he and a number of high-profile athletes received performance-enhancing drugs.

In the report (a near hour-long documentary), Liam Collins, a British hurdler goes undercover to expose the secret world of doping in sports. He uses a cover story as an aging athlete looking for one final shot at glory at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to gain access to a number of black market dealers.

Further along in the report, Collins meets Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who previously worked at the Guyer Institute, an anti-aging clinic and the same institute where Manning received treatment after undergoing four neck surgeries in 2011. Sly tells Collins that he was a member of the medical team that helped rehabilitate Manning, claiming that the clinic mailed HGH and other banned drugs to Manning through his wife, Ashley, so that they would never be traced back to his name. Sly goes on to say that both would come to the clinic after regular operating hours so that Peyton could receive more treatments.

Manning has vehemently denied the report calling it “complete trash.” Sly, the pharmacist at the center of all this, has since recanted his statements claiming that everything he said in the secretly recorded conversations between he and Collins were “false.” Al Jazeera stands by their report.

Facts of the Story

Before I give my thoughts on this whole situation, here are the facts:

  • The drugs that were shown in the Al Jazeera documentary were indeed drugs.
  • Manning was not the only high-profile player to be named. Star athletes such as LB Clay Matthews, LB James Harrison, and 1B Ryan Howard were also named.
  • Manning did not deny that his wife received drugs, but that he actually took any of them. Manning’s agent stated “any medical treatment received by Ashley is a private matter of hers, her doctor, and her family.”
  • Manning hired Ari Fleischer, a former secretary to President George W. Bush during his time in office, to essentially perform damage control. He is the same man who claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction aimed at the U.S. (such a wise choice Peyton!)
  • Charlie Sly made a video recanting his statements in the video after the videos of him surfaced to the public.

Thoughts

 All of the information that I’ve read and heard was mind-blowing to me as well as it might be to you. Peyton Manning, a person who has long been known as someone of integrity and class, should be given the benefit of the doubt. However, there are too many details for this story to not have validity.

First, this investigation took months to complete. If Al Jazeera did make this story up, why would they spend so much time working on it? What would they have gained by fabricating this story? Also, we have to remember that Manning wasn’t the only name linked, but it was the biggest one. If you look at the full list of names, some of them seem pretty odd to throw out there. Not all of these stars are playing like stars right about now so I ask again: What benefit would be gained by outing them now?

Second, while “Charlie Sly” sounds like such a fake and pretentious name for a black market pharmacist, the statements he made in the video sounded real enough. He sounded as if he knew exactly what he was talking about and he probably did. How or why would he or anyone else fabricate these stories with such detail just to impress a client? Now I know people will say that he recanted his comments and said that everything he unknowingly admitted on video was false, but what was he supposed to say? Admitting that he likes to be a whistleblower on his own business from time to time would obviously be bad for his business. If you go back and look at the video of him recanting what he said, he badmouths Collins at one point claiming that he was a “fraudster.” While that certainly may be true since Collins was recently involved in a fraud scam, either Sly knew that going into business with Collins or he didn’t care.

Third, why didn’t Manning just deny that he or his wife ever received drugs? Why would Manning’s wife need those drugs if they really were for her? Last time I checked, her husband was stepping onto the football field week after week and sacrificing his body for a living. What medical condition could she possibly have had to need all those drugs when they could have helped Peyton while he was recovering from four neck surgeries at the time? Why would Peyton Manning even let her put all of those drugs in her body for no reason? The only logical conclusion would be that those drugs were actually for him.

Fourth, Manning didn’t do a very good job of defending himself. If he knew he was innocent, why hire anyone let alone Ari Fleischer to do PR damage control for him? It sounds as if he wanted advice on what to do now that stuff hit the fan. All he had to do was deny ever taking any PEDs or having anything to do with Sly and that would have been good enough.

Manning’s defense paired with Sly’s much-too-confident statements made in the video just make me skeptical. I’m not saying that I’m on either side but if I had to choose one, I’d go with the one that sounds more believable. Still, I kind of feel sorry for Manning as well as cheated by him if he did in fact take PEDs. I feel sorry because here is another iconic sports figure that could have everything he worked for ruined by a lie (even though it would be by his own doing). At the same time, I feel cheated because I gave tremendous praise to Manning when he went on that historic run and had his best season ever in 2013. Taking PEDs would explain why he was able to recover so quickly. The human body can only take so much punishment before it gives out. Coming back from four neck surgeries in such a short amount of time just seems too superhuman for anyone, athlete or not, especially at Manning’s age at the time. No one’s body just starts to recover quickly as he/she gets older. The exact opposite happens actually.

While someone of Manning’s reputation wouldn’t seem like the kind of person to cheat, that is precisely how he could get away with it if he did. I want to believe Manning, but the skeptic in me is not going to let me just blindly believe him without looking at the facts.

 

 

Behind the scenes of Serena Williams Sports Illustrated Sports Person of The Year photo shoot

 

Go behind the scenes of Serena Williams’ #SISportsperson photo shoot, and see more photos here: http://on.si.com/1m1WPH7Here’s the cover story: on.si.com/Serena

Posted by Sports Illustrated on Monday, December 14, 2015

 

Ronda Rousey Gets Her Chance at Redemption, But Does She Deserve It?

ronda

Public Domain Work  photo by La Real noticia


Recently, UFC President Dana White announced a rematch between current UFC women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and previously undefeated megastar Ronda Rousey (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC). The fight is scheduled to take place at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas. The announcement comes weeks after Rousey’s devastating loss via KO to Holm. Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s manager, voiced his concerns about the announcement claiming that Holm wanted to get back in the cage as soon as February to defend her title against Miesha Tate and the July 9 date is too soon for Rousey. Rousey, who is still recovering from the fight, has expressed interest in the fight. While everyone including yours truly wants to see the rematch, one has to question whether or not Rousey even deserves a rematch. For me, that answer is a big, fat NO because it is unfair to all of the fighters involved. Let me explain:

 

Why it is Unfair to Ronda Rousey

 

You see that picture at the top of this post? It has been said “a picture is worth 1000 words,” and that picture probably tells twice as much at the very least. While it is an incredible shot to cap the match and event, the story that is being glossed over is the extent of Rousey’s injuries.

 

Rousey was hospitalized immediately after the fight. She ended up losing some teeth and had to have plastic surgery performed on her lip. Hmm, I wonder what caused that? She was suspended from doing any type of training for 45 days. Oh, and by the way, she can’t even eat an apple right now. While July 9 is a long way from now, a good chunk of that time will be spent in recovery for Rousey. Not to be funny, but seeing the way she lost, Rousey needs as much time as she can get to work on her striking game. Unless Holm completely forgets how to sprawl or Rousey starts getting really creative with her takedowns, this rematch will probably play out in a similar fashion to the first one. If Rousey doesn’t want to get embarrassed again, she will need her training. She isn’t going to roll out of bed one morning and figure out how to box with a former boxing champion. While she may have been knocking out her opponents as of late, we now know what happens when she has to go up against a world-class striker like Holm. You just know that somewhere out there, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is thinking to himself each night: “If Ronda looks like that against Holm, what does she think will happen if she steps in the ring with me?” Too bad Floyd hasn’t legitimately knocked someone out in nearly ten years (the Victor Ortiz KO doesn’t count Floyd).

 

I also think this fight is too soon because it is the very next fight for Rousey. Usually when fighters return from long layoffs (especially coming off of crushing losses), they take tune-up fights. It is common and probably necessary for great fighters to take tune-up fights because it gets those fighters back into the swing of things and gives them their confidence back. If Rousey fought anyone else and easily won, everyone including Rousey would have thought that she was back. How is a fighter supposed to have confidence going up against the same opponent that just put him/her in the hospital and shattered his/her confidence? No one knows what to expect from Rousey going into this fight, which would have been an advantage if Rousey were still an unknown, but she isn’t. We all know what her go-to strategy is and when that doesn’t work, what is she going to do? It’s like watching a movie on TV and expecting the network showing the movie to show a secret ending that wasn’t shown previously in the theaters or on DVD.

 

Why it is Unfair to Holly Holm

 

Although Holm was a decorated fighter (as a boxer) way before she got in the octagon to slay the giant Rousey, her KO win over Rousey marked her third fight ever in the UFC, meaning she is still a relatively inexperienced UFC fighter, let alone a UFC champion. For Holm, getting back into the octagon as soon as possible is the best thing she could do right now. The long layoff could make her rusty going into this fight. Considering Rousey’s injuries and Holm’s potential for rust, why wouldn’t Dana White want to schedule this fight when both fighters are at their best? Come July 9, that may not be the case for one of them if not the both of them.

 

Also, getting Holm back in the octagon way before July would have kept her fresh and got her in the mindset of preparing for what it takes to remain a champion. Any champion will tell you that winning a championship is only the start of the journey, but remaining on top is where the real journey takes place. By the time Holm fights Rousey, she might need to be reminded that she owns a UFC belt and would have to put it on the line. Holm shouldn’t have to wait on Rousey to get prepared to fight her again. Instead, it should be the other way around. If the fight were much closer and Holm had won by a split-decision, I could understand a rematch occurring as soon as possible, but not after a complete thrashing. Rousey should have to work like everyone else to get her chance at getting her belt back. Instead, she is undeservingly being handed one.

 

Why it is Unfair to Tate & Other Potential Challengers

 

As you are probably aware by now, Miesha Tate is indeed the third wheel in this situation when she shouldn’t be. Since her second loss to Rousey nearly two years ago, she has won four fights in a row, which is usually enough to get someone a title shot if he/she didn’t completely fall out of the rankings (which she didn’t). Now look at it this way: If Tate fights and loses to another challenger, will she be able to keep her ranking since Dana White snubbed her from a title shot? What about the fighter that beat her? What happens to that fighter’s chances for a title shot? By showing favoritism towards Rousey (and money), White is screwing up the women’s bantamweight division and it’s rankings.

 

Conclusion

 

It isn’t any secret that the UFC and Dana White are trying to squeeze every last dollar out of their cash cow Ronda Rousey. However, by rushing this fight to the public, White is costing himself and the UFC money. He is also probably cheating you the fans out of your money by having you believe that both fighters will be 100% healthy and non-rusty on July 9th. I respect Dana White for giving fans the fights they want to see most of the time, but sometimes it isn’t about who’s fighting so much as it is about when they fight. Would I pay to see Holm and Rousey fight again? Sure, but considering Holm’s/Rousey’s situations, a fight between them just isn’t the right time. Besides, by paying for this fight, I would be cheating myself out of a chance to see both fighters when they are at their best. I wouldn’t want to do that and neither should you.

Did SuperCam Just Steal MVP?


Cam_Newton_during_the_2011_NFL_season

  cc by Wikipedia


The greatest thing about the NFL is that at least one game each week will be a parody. The whole country likes to think it knows how games are going to turn out, but no one ever truly knows how a game is actually going to turn out and that is why teams play the games on Sunday. Last night, while Tom Brady (I say his name as opposed to the Patriots because he was the only one that came to play) fell to the seemingly hapless Eagles, Cam Newton threw five touchdowns and outdueled Drew Brees in the Superdome.

For the first time in 11 to 12 weeks, someone not named Tom Brady has to be taken into consideration for the trophy. Okay I lied: Cam Newton has also been considered a candidate throughout the season as well, but comparing their latest performances, Newton now has a legitimate shot to claim the trophy. Let’s see how these quarterbacks statistically stack up against one another:

Head to Head: Brady vs. Newton

Brady: 34 TDs (31 passing, 3 rushing), 3912 yards (3993 if you want to include his rushing/receiving stats but let’s be honest, Brady can’t run and he’s no receiver); he’s completing nearly 64% of his passes, has a 102.8 passer rating and a 64.5 QBR (if you really care for that sort of thing)

Newton: 32 TDs (25 passing, 7 rushing), 3273 yards (2797 passing and 476 rushing); he’s completing about 58% of his passes, has a passer rating of 93.2 and a QBR of 62.7 (again, if you care for that sort of thing)

Statistically speaking, Brady is clearly superior to Newton, but MVPs aren’t just won by the numbers. If that were the case, Adrian Peterson wouldn’t have beat out Peyton Manning in 2012 because Manning technically had better numbers, but how many RBs do you know routinely rush for 4000 yards, let alone 2000? …Crickets.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Player Use

Another thing that should be taken into account is how each quarterback is used for his team. Brady is strictly a passer and is obviously one of the best to ever do it. However, Newton has to (not wants to) take over running back duties from time to time in each game. While RB Jonathan Stewart is really good at what he does, it is Cam Newton who has tremendously helped the Panthers’ rushing game to be one of the top 3 rushing attacks in the NFL (#1 just weeks ago). Newton’s athleticism keeps defenders honest and without it, Stewart might have struggled being the lone feature back and the Panthers might not have remained undefeated, especially up to this point.

  • Weapons at each player’s disposal

If I told you that the Panthers would lose their number one target Kelvin Benjamin before the season, would you actually have expected Newton to perform well throwing the ball this season? The Panthers are getting the job done in the passing department with the best receiver on the team being a 30-year-old TE in Greg Olsen. Whenever a tight end is the best receiver on any team, one of two things can be implied: (1) The tight end is a great receiver (2) There is a lack of depth at the WR position. Olsen is a fine player, but he is not a matchup-nightmare like Rob Gronkowski, whom Brady has routinely thrown the ball to for much of the season. Also, Brady has had WR Julian Edelman, who was arguably a top-10 receiver this season before he got injured, and Darren Sproles clone Dion Lewis for much of the season as well before they got injured. Any team would take those three before butter-fingers Ted Ginn Jr., #3-option-at-best-on-any-other-team Jerricho Cotchery and a still developing Devin Funchess. It is literally Newton or bust for the Panthers each and every week. Teams know that, yet the Panthers are 12-0. Have I mentioned that the Panthers still haven’t lost a game? Now that the Patriots are losing games and key players, we’re finding out that Brady can look pretty average without some good receiver or tight end to throw to.

  • The meaning of MVP

In the NFL, while the best offensive player has a great chance to win the MVP each season, the MVP isn’t always the best offensive player. It is a common misunderstanding among players, fans, and the people who cast their vote for the MVP. I don’t understand why people can’t just accept certain players as offensive player of the year and not MVP. Being considered the best offensive player in a league full of great offensive players is an impressive feat and acknowledgement alone. That doesn’t mean that that player is MVP. For me, Brady will always be plagued by the 2008 season when Matt Cassel (of all people) led the Patriots to an 11-5 record after Brady got injured in the very first game of that season. That season proved that Belichick’s system could make any decent/good player look better than they actually are. We’ve seen evidence of this notion throughout the years.

  • Greatness Fatigue

No one can deny the greatness of Tom Brady, a 4-time Super Bowl champion, a perennial MVP candidate, and a future first-ballot hall of famer. However, sports fans from time to time start to depreciate the greatness they witness over the course of time when they are too exposed to it. Just look at Pats fans: their team loses two games in a row for the first time in years and although they should be somewhat concerned for their team, some of them are hitting the panic button right now on a 10-2 team that nearly overcame a 21-point deficit yesterday but I digress. If Brady does not win this season’s MVP, it will be for the same reason any other great player doesn’t win the MVP every year: We like to tell ourselves that it is because those players don’t always play great, but the truth is that people get tired of seeing greatness from the same player again and again. Statistically speaking, no one is better than Brady right now, but since Cam Newton has comparable numbers and has not previously looked like a top-5 quarterback (and also because his team is undefeated), he is more likely to get the nod for MVP.

Conclusion

If the Panthers remain undefeated, Newton is surely going to get the award. If the Panthers lose one or two more games, he still may get the nod. If Tom Brady plays out of his mind without his key weapons for the rest of the season and clearly (not slightly) outperforms Newton, he will get the MVP. That is the only way.

Give Jahlil a Break

When I was 19 years old, I was speeding. When I was 19 years old I got into my first (and only) street fight. Many of my friends can say the same, and many of their friends can, as well. Simply put, when you’re 19 years old, you tend to do some stupid shit sometimes. I’m not encouraging such behavior, I’m merely stating that it happens. It’s not the worst thing in the world and kids grow up and learn from their mistakes.

That’s why we need to cut Jahlil Okafor a little slack in light of his recent mishaps. To catch you up to speed, here’s what happened.  On Thanksgiving day, TMZ released a video of Okafor getting into a bit of a scuffle one Boston night.  According to a witness and two separate reports filed by the Philadelphia Police Department and U.S. Park Rangers, Okafor tried to punch a heckler after the man said the 76ers sucked, or something along those lines. The confrontation occurred at 2 am outside of Old City nightclub, so we can probably assume some drinking was involved. The gun makes it all a scary situation but not something you can fault Okafor for. Throwing the dumb punch that led to it, that’s all on Jahlil.

And now there are reports of Okafor being arrested in early November after clocking in at 108 mph on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, a bridge that has a speed limit of 45 mph. 2fast, 2furious, but not 2troubling. At the end of the day, this isn’t the first time, nor the last time we’ll see a professional athlete speeding. Certainly not the last time we’ll see a teenager speeding, either.

While Okafor’s behavior isn’t ideal, it’s not exactly a problem…yet. It’s troubling to a certain degree, no doubt, and the 76ers should definitely make some kind of an effort to get this under control. But maybe – just maybe – this is what you get when you stick a very good rookie on a team that expects him to lose every. time. he. plays. To go from winning a National Championship at Duke to cellar dwelling and trusting the system in Philly is quite the culture change.

Okafor never seemed thrilled about being a 76er, remember the jersey drop…

It’s hard to believe that after 5, or 10, or now 18 straight losses, that this kid feels any better about his situation.  And what seems to be forgotten is that he’s playing some really great basketball through it all. Through the first 18 games, Okafor is averaging 17.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 33 minutes. In other words, he leads all rookies in points and minutes, and is third in both blocks and rebounds behind Karl Anthony-Towns and Kristaps Porzingis (per Inside Hoops). There might be questions about him off the court, but come game time he’s been a bright spot on this 76ers team. There’s no debating that.

On Sunday (November 29th), Okafor took to Twitter to speak on everything that’s been popping up on the news this week. Read into it whatever you want, but at the end of the day, a 19 year old is going to make mistakes. A frustrated 19 year old is going to make mistakes. Here’s to less street fighting, less reckless driving, less scrutiny of a teenager, and more double-doubles in Philadelphia.