Dear Peyton -
This is an apology to you. An apology for the unfair media circus that surrounds you in spite of all the amazing good you do for football, fans, kids - and mostly for humanity in general.
You didn't deserve the multitude of rumors circulating last January about your desire to play football and whether the Broncos wanted you back (despite saying so).
You didn't deserve accusations last week that you would not be willing to be the backup quarterback should the Broncos ask you to play that role behind Brock Osweiler.
And you most certainly haven't deserved accusations that your integrity for the game should be called into question over a made-up report from an intern about giving you human growth hormone following your neck surgeries in 2011 (an intern who, oh by the way, didn't even work at the clinic until two years later).
Any true football fan - not to mention diehard Broncos, Colts or just Peyton Manning fans - should know by now you do not cut corners. In fact, if there is a rub against you, it's the opposite - too cerebral, too meticulous, too calculating.
I'm with Bill Polian all the way on this - "Not Peyton. Never."
You asked Lisa Salters in your ESPN interview how this could even become a story:
"I would love to understand why this guy is saying this, why he's making it up and then he admits that he makes it up, yet it still becomes a story. I'd like to be told and explained that."
I can't answer for Charlie Sly, the Guyer Institute intern in 2013 who claimed he was shipping HGH to your home under your wife's name in 2011. My guess is a combination of bravado and ignorance that throwing around famous names won't have consequences.
Unfortunately, I can answer as to why it is a story. As my colleague Ian St. Clair so aptly described in his report on the dark side of the sports media, the news cycle has lost its integrity. Clickbait rules the day, and your name will get attention every time.
And even more unfortunately, I know why the media has gone down this insidious path - people love drama and the media knows it, counts on it in fact. Above all else - all the good stories we claim to love, all the happy news we say we want - conflict always wins our attention.
On behalf of a pathetic news cycle and an even more pathetic audience for drama, I am sorry you have to waste one minute of your life dealing with this trash.
All you have ever done for us is improve our lives - whether it is winning improbably, losing graciously or giving tirelessly (both in time and money) to make the lives of people hurting just a little bit better.
Peyton is MHR's 2014-2015 Sportsman of the Year
There were many good choices for this honor, but Peyton Manning continues to rise above the rest with his continual focus on trying to be the most outstanding quarterback, the most supportive teammate, and the best person he can be. And as we've come to learn, he is a Hall-of-Famer in all three.
And you've done that without asking for attention to it. In fact, you've often tried to not get attention for it. Yet, we've paraded you as "our quarterback" and heralded all your numerous NFL records as our own.
You give and give and give - to your team, to your city, to your fans.
And we take and take and take - take advantage of your fame yet take for granted your competitive spirit, intense desire to study every detail and genuine love of the game.
I wrote months ago in MHR's tribute to you as our 2015 Sportsperson of the Year that hopefully we as Broncos fans could one day deserve the man who has given us so much.
You didn't deserve any of this, and for that I am sorry.
We can't seem to deserve you, and for that I am heartbroken.