Peyton Manning strongly denies report he used HGH in 2011

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning strongly denied a report set to air on Al Jazeera that contends the Denver Broncos quarterback received human growth hormone through his wife during his recovery from neck fusion surgeries in 2011 in Indianapolis.

In a statement Saturday night, Manning said: “The allegation that I would do something like that is complete garbage and is totally made up. It never happened. Never.”

He added, “I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.”

The allegations surfaced in an Al Jazeera undercover probe into doping in global sports that is set to air Sunday and was shared in advance with the Huffington Post.

The report claims Manning received HGH from an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic in 2011 while he was still with the Colts. It said the drug, which was banned by the NFL in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, was delivered to his wife, Ashley, so that the quarterback’s name was never attached to the shipments.

Liam Collins, a British hurdler, went undercover and spoke with Charlie Sly, an Austin, Texas-based pharmacist who worked at the Guyer Institute, the Indiana-based anti-aging clinic in 2011. Sly allegedly names Manning and other high profile athletes as having received HGH from the clinic.

However, Sly backtracks in a subsequent statement to Al Jazeera, saying Collins secretly recorded his conversations without his knowledge or consent.

“The statements on any recordings or communications that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect,” Sly said. “To be clear, I am recanting any such statements and there is no truth to any statement of mine that Al Jazeera plans to air. Under no circumstances should any of those recordings, statements or communications be aired.”

The NFL and players union added human growth hormone testing to the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 but the side didn’t agree to testing terms until 2014. Nobody has tested positive, which would trigger a four-game suspension.

Manning, who joined the Broncos in 2012, has been sidelined since Nov. 15 by a left foot injury. Brock Osweiler makes his sixth consecutive start in Manning’s place Monday night when the Broncos (10-4) host the Bengals (11-3).

 

Football is back! Here are five things to watch this NFL season

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After an offseason filled with players returning from retirement, celebration rule changes, and Gronk being Gronk, football is back!

Before the Hall of Fame game gets underway, here are five storylines to watch as the new football season approaches.

Heavy is the head that wears the Star

Dallas entered last season with a rookie backup quarterback that wasn’t expected to see a lot of time until Tony Romo got injured and a rookie running back that was supposed to make an immediate impact. Now, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott enter this season with expectations the size of Texas. The Cowboys are looking to win the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995, or when TLC’s “Waterfalls” was the No. 2 song on the Billboard charts.

Undefeated Patriots? It could happen…

Even Seahawks fans can admit that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time. The amazing thing about the Patriots is their ability to reload (specifically from the Buffalo Bills, but that’s a longer story). Lose Martellus Bennett? Bring in Dwayne Allen. Lose LeGarrette Blount? Pick up Rex Burkhead. Top it off with an electric Brandin Cooks and the NFL’s best offense may be even better in 2017.

Falcons’ Super Bowl hangover recovery

28-3. The rallying cry of Patriots fans everywhere that makes Falcons fans cringe and want to crawl into a hole. Everyone talks about the Super Bowl hangover, but will a series of changes, including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departing to run his own team in San Francisco, be enough for the Falcons to return to the Super Bowl? Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will have a major role in that.

Kaepernick’s role

As of this post, Colin Kaepernick is still without a spot on an NFL roster. That could change at any moment. Kaepernick potentially has two landing spots: Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco has been dealing with a back injury in camp, and the Dolphins are fearing the worst with Ryan Tannehill‘s knee injury Thursday. On the field, Kaepernick makes sense for both teams as a backup quarterback. But will one of these teams actually sign the former 49ers quarterback?

Raiders’ Resurgence

Before the Falcons’ brutal Super Bowl collapse, the Raiders held the crown for the most devastating way to have your season end, with quarterback Derek Carr breaking his leg two games before the playoffs started. Now, with Carr back and healthy, the Raiders look poised to make a big run and make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2002. One person who remembers that run well? Oakland native and new Raider Marshawn Lynch, who was a student at Oakland Tech high school.

Just think of it this way-you’ll now have football every Thursday until January, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the season.

Keep up with all of NBC Sports NFL coverage on Apple News and on the NBC Sports app

Cowboys favored over Cardinals to kick off preseason in Hall of Fame Game

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The Dallas Cowboys have not been a lock against the spread recently or in recent preseasons, yet they are the favorite against the Arizona Cardinals at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night.

The Cowboys are listed as a one-point favorite against the Cardinals with 35-point total in their NFL preseason betting matchup at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

While the Cowboys are a contender to represent the NFC at Super Bowl LII next February, they are just 3-13 against the spread and 5-11 straight-up in the preseason since 2013. Dallas also went just 1-6 ATS over in its final seven games last season, when it reached the divisional playoff round.

The Cowboys, who were 13-4 SU and 10-6-1 ATS overall in 2016, are unlikely to play any starters, based on how coach Jason Garrett has approached preseason games in the past. They will be running out some seasoned quarterbacks, with backup Kellen Moore likely to start while Luke McCown (10 career starts), and Cooper Rush will also play. McCown has a tidy 11-to-3 TD-to-interception ratio in the preseason over the last four years, but he has also had just barely a week to learn the Cowboys’ offense.

Dallas is 7-2-1 SU and 5-5 ATS in its last 10 games against the NFC West according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Cardinals, who were 7-8-1 SU and 6-10 ATS during a down year in 2016, have also confirmed that no starters will play, while Carson Palmer‘s understudy at quarterback, Drew Stanton, will also sit this one out. Blaine Gabbert, a former starter in Jacksonville and San Francisco, is due to play the first half. Gabbert, going off the fact his career-high average per attempt in preseason is 7.3 yards (set in 2015 with the 49ers), might not go downfield often.

Trevor Knight is expected to quarterback the Cardinals in the second half. While it’s difficult to know whether regular-season trends can be applied to preseason games – especially the first one – the Cardinals are 9-1 SU and 9-0-1 ATS over their last 10 games against NFC East teams.

The total went over in all four of the Cowboys’ preseason games in 2016. The total has gone over in seven of the Cardinals’ last eight preseason games, as well as their last seven games overall. Ten of the last 16 Hall of Fame games have had a total of fewer than 35 points. That’s dating back to 2000, since last year’s game was cancelled due to poor field conditions.