There is no statute of limitations on humiliation.
There is no expiration date a violation of dignity.
Though the story has been out in the open for a while, New York Daily News ran an exposé on Peyton Manning sexually assaulting a trainer while he was at the University of Tennessee. The article included over 70 pages of court documents, clearly stating damning details of the case. Of course, the quick reaction to the piece’s release was to debase the author and discredit the story.
This happened too long ago to talk about it!
Of course people would wait until after Peyton wins a ring to try to hurt him!
Why would I trust Shaun King?!
Of course, none of this is new. Peyton Manning has had a wall built around him by the media, his fans and even the NFL since he arrived at Rocky Top back in the 90s.
After Peyton Manning assaulted Jamie Naughtright, his “punishment” was two weeks of early morning running and a cafeteria ban. For sexual assault. He forced his genitals onto an unsuspecting trainer’s forehead, violating her and her dignity. However, the University of Tennessee thought two weeks punishment was plenty punishment for the Golden Boy’s heinous actions.
Years after the incident, Manning had the nerve to write up his victim as a “vulgar woman“, attempting to shame her and protect his legacy. That is the textbook cowardice of a predator to assert dominance over a victim whenever possible. He did so in a massively published and consumed biography of the Manning family. His words were met with a defamation lawsuit from Naughtright, who appropriately felt horrified by this attempt to sully her name. Manning, who is above reproach in his eyes and the eyes of his fans, went back to bad mouthing her two years later on an ESPN documentary.
This horrific pattern of shaming and intimidating a sexual assault victim had a short stay in the media cycle, because why would anyone want to sling mud at Peyton Manning? Manning is everything to the football world.
Peyton Manning: The good ol’ white country boy with NFL bloodlines who set records in the “ESS EE SEE”, got taken first overall by the Colts and set records in the NFL. Peyton Manning will never be seen dancing after scoring a touchdown nor will he ever wilt after being defeated in even the biggest football games. Peyton Manning is the gold standard.
Oh, shut the fuck up.
Even the league caters to Peyton Manning.
As CLNS’ Jeff Kane aptly stated:
“The first time the Mel Blount rule was brought back up again was for the 2004 season. The season after the Patriots defensive backs, manhandled the Indianapolis Colts wide receivers on their way to a championship. After the season in which Manning had thrown four interceptions in the AFC Championship game, the competition committee, changed the rules to have the NFL officials more strictly enforce illegal contact, pass interference and defensive holding. The 2004 season saw Manning throw for 20 more touchdowns and 300 more yards on the season. His average yards per attempt skyrocketed from 7.8 to 10.2.”
The league saw their Golden Boy embarrassed on a big stage and had to take action. Years later, this babying came back recently with Al Jazeera report that Peyton Manning was potentially getting access to HGH. It made sense, the star quarterback had to return from four neck surgeries and was in his late 30s. Why wouldn’t he look to gain an advantage in recovery to preserve his performance? Manning shot back with a smear campaign against AJA, using George Bush’s former PR guy to spearhead it. A report came out that Manning even went to lengths to intimidate the parents of the AJA piece’s witnesses and eventually, the key witness miraculously recanted on his statement. It’s interesting, to say the least, that a pattern intimidation and shaming has followed Peyton Manning wherever he has taken his career.
But he is protected. He is regarded. People love to cape for him. Even with 74 pages of legal text clearly documenting his sexual assault years ago, people question the purpose of “bringing it up”.
The validity is that we live in a society that protects sexual predators. We also live in a society that protects white men. The imbalance in representation in the media and how he is treated by the NFL is a microcosm of how American society treats people of Peyton Manning’s “stature”. Patterns aren’t broken by staying silent on issues, patterns are broken through action.
As long as the media, the league and this country continues to revere Manning, even using him as a moral compass, it continues to appropriate the bullying, cowardice and predatory behavior that Manning has exhibited during his career.