Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning says he welcomes the NFL investigating an Al Jazeera report that he received human growth hormone from an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic.
Manning has adamantly denied what Al Jazeera reported and sees this investigation as an opportunity to clear his name.
"I do welcome it. It’s no news to me," Manning said of the NFL’s investigation. Manning called the Al Jazeera report "garbage from the first day it came out and still garbage today."
Manning has declined to talk about the video taken at the end of the AFC Championship game where he told New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick that this season might be his "last rodeo."
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When asked about that video, Manning joked Thursday about getting no privacy at the 50-yard line after a playoff game. Then he changed the subject to the Carolina Panthers.
Manning is frequently asked these days about the possibility he’ll retire, and has consistently said now is not the time to address that.
Work now, because next week could be a zoo: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has organized his team’s week as if the Super Bowl is this coming Sunday rather than Feb. 7.
The Broncos practiced Thursday, mostly installing the game plan. They will have a more physical practice Friday and a lighter workout Saturday before using Sunday as a travel day to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Kubiak said it’s important to get most of the installation in place in Colorado, then just reinforce concepts in Santa Clara practices, because the players have so many obligations outside football during Super Bowl week.
"When we get on the plane Sunday, we’ll be pretty much done" with game prep, said Kubiak.
Manning, who will play in his fourth Super Bowl (1-2 record so far), said the schedule Kubiak drew up makes great sense.
"They’re crucial," Manning said of practice days this week. "Coach Kubiak stressed from the get-go that this is the week to prepare, to practice, as if we were playing on Sunday. That’s got to continue the next few days of practice. It’s a challenge next week so everything is important."
Two Broncos miss practice: Both of Denver’s starting safeties – T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart – were too injured to practice Thursday. Ward’s injury is an ankle, while Stewart’s is a knee.
Kubiak said he’s hopeful both Ward and Stewart will play in the Super Bowl. Ward is closer to practicing than Stewart, but it sounded Thursday like both might be held out until the team travels to California.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell