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Peyton Manning says he was joking about tanking baseline concussion tests

Peyton Manning AP

Eyebrows were raised earlier this week when Peyton Manning indicated he intentionally tanked the baseline concussion test mandated by the NFL in order to help his chances of gaining clearance following a subsequent test.

“They have these new [brain] tests we have to take,” Manning said. “Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures.  And they do it with words, too.  Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words.  Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play.  So I just try to do badly on the first test.”

His comments came on the heels of another report that similar practices are common around the league and, as a result, backed up the findings in that report. Or it did until Manning walked back the comments in an interview with the Indianapolis Star.

“Not true; I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I understand the seriousness of concussions. Our job was to be entertaining to the crowd. Got some laughs out of it, but it was really unfortunate.”

Manning also said that he thought Rick Reilly’s story about the joint interview he sat for with his father and brother would make it clear that his comments about concussion tests were “tongue in cheek.” Much of the interview did come off as light-hearted, but Reilly teased the comments and didn’t really frame them as an obvious joke anywhere in the text.

In light of the other stories about players intentionally flunking their baseline tests, it is hard to imagine why Manning thought his comments would be seen as an obvious joke. It’s also fairly tough to see why traumatic head injuries would be a topic of great humor given all that we’ve learned about the cumulative effect they have on those who suffer them.

Joking about concussions and the rules put in place to protect players who suffer them also hinder attempts by players to maintain that the NFL isn’t doing enough about player safety. It’s perfectly fine for players to be glib about the dangers they potentially face as a result of playing professional football, but you can’t really have things both ways.

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31 Responses to “Peyton Manning says he was joking about tanking baseline concussion tests”
  1. roxtar10 says: Apr 29, 2011 10:16 AM

    Dear World: Lighten Up.

  2. bleedgreen says: Apr 29, 2011 10:17 AM

    Settle down, bleeding hearts. This is no worse than saying ‘I got my drivers license photo taken when I was drunk and high so that thats what I look like when I get pulled over and I’m drunk and high.’ Its a JOKE. Its not making fun of people with concussions. On top of that, he’s talking about hurting HIMSELF. He’s not telling OTHER people to do this.

  3. bubbabart says: Apr 29, 2011 10:18 AM

    This is why reporters get such a bad name from players….and many say they are taken out of context. Sometimes they really are taken out of context!

  4. carson9 says: Apr 29, 2011 10:19 AM

    Hey if I had several million riding on the outcome of a test, I’d tank the bastard too!

  5. thebigrig82 says: Apr 29, 2011 10:19 AM

    Oh no!!! How dare he make an innocent joke!!! What has this world come to!! GET OVER YOURSELF!! Must be really pressed for a story today!

  6. opiedamus says: Apr 29, 2011 10:20 AM

    “Lighten up Francis!” Josh, I understand that your job requires you to make mountains out of mole hills, but you saying you can’t have it both ways is a bit hypocritical for this site.

    You guys alternate on being serious and, as you say in the article, glib.

    Yes you can joke about concussions or anything else for that matter. If you don’t think it’s funny, that is your opinion. However, don’t get too high on your soapbox lest you slip…

  7. clayswife says: Apr 29, 2011 10:21 AM

    He really did bomb the tests, though. Just not intentionally. He’s as dumb as he looks.

  8. ty46 says: Apr 29, 2011 10:25 AM

    A Colts-hating PFT writer taking a cheap shot against Manning. What else is new!

  9. clownburger says: Apr 29, 2011 10:30 AM

    Doesn’t Peyton Manning know that with the modern media you’re not allowed to have a sense of humor?

  10. elmondohummus says: Apr 29, 2011 10:32 AM

    You know something, Alper: If you think Manning was serious, then you’re actually missing the big story: Olivia Manning, mother of Peyton and Eli, being drafted by the CFL.

    I mean, there was no framing for that as an obvious joke either, was there?

  11. gdeli says: Apr 29, 2011 10:33 AM

    bs I think it’s true. millions of $ on the line. Most guys would do the same thing. You know football players, they take a beating and money and pay for it later. let’s see what happens with farve. damn.

  12. habsfanatic says: Apr 29, 2011 10:34 AM

    [Archie slaps his forehead reading this post]

  13. elmondohummus says: Apr 29, 2011 10:37 AM

    And one more thing, Alper: Next time you or one of the other columnists for your org gets a really boring, vanilla interview with zero surprises and lots of boring cliches, remember to BLAME YOURSELF. YOU are now officially part of the reason that folks in the public eye clam up when being interviewsed. It’s because columnists like YOU take quotes and run in the completely wrong direction with them.

    Yes, YOU. YOU are the problem now. So next time you’re bored by an athlete’s remarks, don’t complain. You contributed towards creating the situation.

  14. ricofoy says: Apr 29, 2011 10:37 AM

    This guy should be writing about women’s figure skating instead of football.

  15. arzcardinals says: Apr 29, 2011 10:39 AM

    Seriously…you felt the need to go after Peyton Manning.
    Manning has been a class act from day 1. I’m a little disgusted that you guys felt the need to go after him on this stupid story that was obviously a joke.

  16. tjacks7 says: Apr 29, 2011 10:48 AM

    I wish Brady would have said this. You PFT writers hanging off his jock would write 100 posts LOLOLing at his comments.

  17. whitecastleisafoodgroup says: Apr 29, 2011 10:50 AM

    I’m no doctor but isn’t there a more scientific way of determining that someone has a concussion? I guess if the player is drawing unicorns we could tell something is off, but really? Re-taking a memory test? As serious as concussions are (had a couple myself) I would hope there’s more to it than that.

  18. MichaelEdits says: Apr 29, 2011 10:51 AM

    I assumed he was joking. He displayed impeccable comic timing on Saturday Night Live, plus this is exactly the kind of humor we’d expect of an obviously intelligent man who laughs at naked butt and rectum. Meanwhile, note your uncomfortable feeling about how he addressed the concussion topic. That feeling is your gut telling you there’s a problem here.

  19. gotitan says: Apr 29, 2011 10:53 AM

    Ryan Mallett also failed the baseline test, by accident.

  20. thefiesty1 says: Apr 29, 2011 11:27 AM

    Just like all the audibles he calls at the line of scrimmage. You may never know if what he says it true or not. Keeps everyone guessing.

    His comment was just like all his commercials- all young in cheek. Just keep “cut(ting) that meat”!

  21. Slackmo says: Apr 29, 2011 11:27 AM

    Forget about this, I demand an update in the Alka-Seltzer case!

  22. ThatGuy says: Apr 29, 2011 11:30 AM

    Why would he make a joke about it? Why do soldiars make jokes about War? Because its inheriantly danger, you realize it, you accept it and joking about it makes it easier to deal with. And Manning is right, I read the article and the entire thing comes off as the three Mannings(why did Cooper get left out) joking around. Lighten up

  23. kom2k10 says: Apr 29, 2011 11:54 AM

    You write a column about how injuries are serious and they can affect someone for the rest of their lives and how they’re not a joking matter.

    This of course follows a slew of collumns from a few months ago that were bashing Jay Cutler for not returning to a game where the team had determined him to be too injured to continue playing.

    Which one is it? Should injuries ALWAYS be taken seriously because of the potential long term impact of them or should you mock and question a player when he makes a decision that he’s going to protect himself from further injury???

    (p.s. “you can’t have it both ways”)

  24. johnnyshore says: Apr 29, 2011 12:39 PM

    Who is Josh Alper? Anyway, how could anyone think this was serious?

  25. dexterismyhero says: Apr 29, 2011 12:40 PM

    Did you write this article with Crayolas on a big sheet of construction paper?

    3rd grader writing. Idiot

  26. prmpft says: Apr 29, 2011 12:56 PM

    …if Tom Brady says “Peyton was just joking” this will all go away…

  27. indycolt45 says: Apr 29, 2011 1:16 PM

    Who the hell is Josh Alper?

  28. kspl1 says: Apr 29, 2011 1:22 PM

    It was a effin joke. My god

  29. hystoracle says: Apr 29, 2011 1:32 PM

    After getting chastised and ripped in the media for a few days over his confession, Peyton comes out a decries he was “just kidding”. I call “Bull Spit” on Peyton. It’s called CYA. And I’ve read several posts on here already who are buying what he’s spinning.

    I believe he did tank that test and I believe his response now is an attempt to deflect it. And judging by the posts it is working. For that, I give Peyton kudos.

    He’s a great player but concussions are a sensitive subject right now. And no, you can’t call for more player safety in the league and then make light of procedures put in place to try and achieve what you’re asking for.

  30. xli2006 says: Apr 29, 2011 2:07 PM

    Must be fishing season cause PFT is fishing for a story here where there isn’t one.

  31. ihateannouncers says: Apr 29, 2011 2:19 PM

    Just read the entire article. The whole thing is one sarcastic remark after another. After Peytons’ remark about the tests, Archie slaps his own forehead. They way he would after an obvious joke!! The media should be ashamed for trying to portray that comment any other way!! I thought Archies’ wifes’ comment at the end was the best. I’ll bet their family renuions are a blast.

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