Lawyers say Manning may have tough time with defamation suit

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning warms up on the field before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If Peyton Manning plans on suing for Sunday¬†night’s Al Jazeera report, he may have a tough go at it, legal experts say.

“[With] a defamation case, the most fundamental thing you have to prove is that the thing that was said about you is untrue,” said Brad Catlin of Price Waicukauski Joven & Catlin, LLC.

The since-recanted report claimed Manning took human growth hormone as he was recovering from neck surgery.

Before the report even aired Sunday night, Manning denied the claims, even telling Sports Illustrated that he may sue.

By filing a lawsuit, Manning would be trying to protect two things: his reputation off the field and his ability on the field. But first he has to prove the entire report was a lie.

“As a public figure he’s going to have to show actual malice. Which means that Al Jazeera or Charlie Sly, whoever he wants to sue, knew that what they were saying was false or had what the courts call reckless regard, they just didn’t care about whether it was true or false,” said Catlin, who specializes in defamation cases.

He says because Peyton Manning is such a big figure he would have to prove the doping allegations were false and that he was hurt by them.

“They want to make sure that people are allowed to express their thoughts on those types of public figures, and Peyton Manning will surely qualify,” said Catlin.

And the number one thing he may be trying to save now is his reputation.

“There are no shortcuts in the NFL; I’ve done it the long way, the hard way and to insinuate anything otherwise is a complete and utter joke. It’s defamation and it really ticks me off,” said Manning, speaking with ESPN Sunday afternoon.

Manning, who is now quarterback for the Denver Broncos, spent 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and in 2006 led the franchise to its first Super Bowl win in three decades.

“You don’t want to believe your icons can be that kind of guy,” said Misha King, a Manning fan.

Manning’s career in Indianapolis ended with his neck surgery in 2011, the same year Al Jazeera claims he received HGH from The Guyer Institute.

The report cited Charlie Sly. Sly has since recanted his story and the clinic said by phone Monday that Sly wasn’t an intern there until two years later, in February 2013.

Some fans are on the fence about the allegations.

“I just hope its not true, but you never know,” said Ben Jafari, a Colts fan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” said Hannah Lindell, a Broncos fan.

Catlin says Manning has two things going for him if he chooses to bring this to court: He denied the claim before it aired and the story was recanted before it aired.

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