Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lines of inquiry

So now we're exactly a week out from Super Bowl 50, and you know what that means.

No, not that it's PRO BOWL SUNDAY. Or even NHL ALL-STAR GAME SUNDAY, which it also is.

All that means is it's actually GO SEE A MOVIE SUNDAY. Or READ A GOOD BOOK SUNDAY.

Actually, one week out from Super Bowl 50 means it's time for Peyton Manning and Cam Newton to brace themselves for the Questions, of which there will be two primary ones. Neither man wants to address the Questions. Neither, presumably, will be able to avoid them, given that when you put 90 gazillion media creatures in one place with nothing to do for a week but eat, drink and obsess endlessly about what is, at bottom, just a football game, they will need to find some Big Questions to ponder.

For Cam: Why do some people hate you so much? Is it racism, or something else?

For Peyton: So tell us again about the whole HGH thing. And again. And again.

Cam will likely handle the hate questions much easier than Peyton will handle the HGH questions, simply because he's never been shy about addressing any issue head-on. The cameras love him, and he loves the cameras. So they'll ask, he'll answer, and half of America will, of course, hate his answers.

That's just part of being Cam. And while some of it clearly is because a certain segment of America isn't comfortable with loud, brash people of color -- ask yourself why some people get all huffy about his end-zone celebrations, but no one seems to take issue with Aaron Rodgers' Discount Double-Check thing -- some of it undoubtedly is because of the position he plays. Quarterbacks are not supposed to be creatures of whimsy. They're not supposed to look like they're having fun out there. But then along comes Cam dancing and smiling and wearing lampshades on his head, and people get their shorts in a twist because, by God, Bart Starr never did that.

Or Peyton Manning, for that matter.

His public image is all but spotless, and he's earned that public image with all manner of good works on and off the field. Which is why every time he's asked him about the HGH thing, he looks as if someone just stuck knitting needles in his eyeballs. To say he's uncomfortable with the subject is an understatement;  it is, after all, at such variance with that haloed image.

That image has given him a virtual pass on this HGH business so far, partly because the primary source for the Al Jazeera story recanted and partly because it was Al Jazeera, even though it's done some quality journalism. So Manning simply sneered and the media (the Blob included) sneered with him. It simply went away in a manner it likely wouldn't have had it been, say, Cam Newton the report fingered.

But the news that the NFL is launching its own investigation means it hasn't really gone away, and so I suspect it will be a very uncomfortable week for Peyton Manning. A news report is one thing; the league looking into something is quite another.

And so, the Question will resurface. And resurface, and resurface.

The Blob's position on all this is a shrug of the shoulders, because it doesn't really care if Manning used HGH to recover from his neck surgeries or not. It's a legal medical treatment, and the Blob is of the opinion that a player recovering from a surgery/injury should be allowed to employ any legal treatment he or she wishes, because it doesn't have anything to do with performance enhancement. It has to do with healing. And it is, after all, their bodies.

And, yeah, OK: HGH is a banned substance in the NFL. I get that. And, yeah, even if the story that it was wife who was using it is true, Peyton should have told the league office. But there are violations of the rules, and there are violations of the rules. The Blob just doesn't think this is much of one.

Which will not matter much on Media Day this week, or any other day this week. The Questions will come. You'd sooner stop the Earth from turning.

Next question.

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