ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Though Peyton Manning retired in March, a month after the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Manning had consistently said since then that he “welcomed" closing out one of the last rather substantial football items from the 2015 season.
The NFL announced on Monday that following a seven-month investigation into allegations made by Al Jazeera America, there was “no credible evidence" Manning was provided with or used human growth hormone or other performance-enhancing substances prohibited by the league.
The investigation was formally opened by the NFL in January, shortly after Manning had returned to the Broncos' lineup for the regular-season finale. The quarterback missed seven starts with a foot injury but started the Broncos’ three playoff games, including the Super Bowl win.
He was consistently asked during the Broncos’ postseason run if he had used HGH or other banned performance-enhancing substances. And each time he responded with a flash of anger, usually calling it “completely fabricated, complete trash, garbage."
“I know the work I put in, I know what it took," Manning said earlier this year. “There are no shortcuts and there never have been. ... It is wrong, completely wrong, to say otherwise."
In a December documentary, Al Jazeera America reported that an intern at an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic was secretly recorded charging that Manning's wife, Ashley Manning, received shipments of HGH in 2011. Peyton Manning, then with the Indianapolis Colts, was recovering from spinal fusion surgery at the time.
As the 2015 season drew to a close, Manning said he welcomed the league’s investigation into the charges. In December, Manning briefly hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to respond to the allegations.
And even months after the season, the issue was still a target of questions around the Broncos, given that coach Gary Kubiak was asked during the team’s White House visit in early June if he had any comments on the allegations. At the time Kubiak, just outside the White House press room, responded: “I don’t have anything for you on that."
The league announced Monday that Peyton and Ashley Manning were both interviewed by investigators and provided access to all records, including some medical records, sought by the investigators.
Broncos rookies reported to training camp Sunday night. The team’s veteran players report Wednesday, and the first full team practice is Thursday.