For a few years, I’ve thought that the off-week between the championship games and Super Bowl should be eliminated. What was once used as a time to hype the big game and allow teams to prepare has turned into 14 days of saturated coverage on every topic imaginable. By the time Super Bowl Sunday hits, we’re just grateful that we don’t have to hear about it any longer.
However, as the football world arrives in San Francisco for the biggest game of the season, there’s one topic that you won’t be hearing much about — at least from the network that is broadcasting this year’s game.
Peyton Manning’s HGH allegations.
As you may remember, Manning was at the center of an Al Jazeera report that he had HGH shipped to his house while recovering from neck surgery in 2011. Although the primary informant for the report has since said that he fabricated his allegations, Al Jazeera has stood behind the story. Manning has called the story “garbage” and denied that he took HGH — without denying that HGH was actually sent to his house. Earlier this week, the NFL announced that it has launched an investigation into the allegations.
You might think this warrants discussion during a week where media often asks players what their favorite Oscar nominated movie is or which animal they most identify with, right?
Jim Nantz, who will be calling the game on CBS, has said that they won’t be discussing the Manning allegations at all. “If we talk about it we would only continue to breathe life into a story that on all levels is a non-story,” Nantz said earlier this month.
It’s widely documented that Manning and Nantz have a cozy relationship. They appear in Papa John’s commercials together. Nantz’s agent also represents Manning in many of his endorsement deals. Nantz and Phil Simms have been following around Manning and the Broncos for seemingly the last month slurping at even the slightest positive from Manning’s on-field performance.
The conflict between Nantz’s relationship with Manning and his duty to cover the Super Bowl is clear. But that still shouldn’t prevent Nantz from discussing all issues in preparation for the season’s biggest game.
Last year, Deflategate rumors were swirling around Tom Brady and the Patriots during the Super Bowl buildup. You couldn’t turn the station without somebody discussing PSI or whether Brady will be suspended for the Super Bowl. Much like Manning, the Patriots and Brady adamantly denied the allegations that they tampered with the footballs in the AFC Championship Game.
In Nantz’s eyes, Brady’s denial should have made it a “non-story.” But while Nantz wants to take Manning’s denial at face value, he wasn’t willing to take Brady’s. It’s an inherent flaw you need to keep in mind when Nantz and Simms are calling next Sunday’s game.
It’s apparent that Nantz doesn’t want to bring any negative light upon Manning. He wants to shove it under the rug and ignore the story. But that’s not for him to decide. It’s a relevant topic for Super Bowl week that should be addressed. How the viewer decides to interpret it is up to them. Nantz’s decision to censor the story is the wrong move. If Nantz is going to let his relationship with Manning cloud his judgment on how to cover Manning’s games, then perhaps he should remove himself from all broadcasts in the future. It’s not fair to CBS or to the viewers. But, for now, keep in mind that the network bringing the Super Bowl to the living room has chosen to ignore a major off the field story concerning the game’s biggest player.