By Landon Cohen
Throughout the history of Peyton Manning’s career he’s been as clean cut as they come. He’s been the king of the pigskin in which has been running through his families veins for years. From Archie to Peyton to Eli the legacy has been built for success and success in the right way.
Peyton started his supposed ideal career at the University of Tennessee in which he led that team through many of his different records and accolades. He has 2 NCAA records, 7 South Eastern Conference records, and thirty-three University of Tennessee records, ranking himself among the elite at the collegiate level. At this point in time, he was known to be just as good of person on the field as he was off the field. Bob Carter of ESPN once wrote “modest and polite, Manning has a squeaky-clean image.”
“Growing up in New Orleans as Archie Manning’s son, I felt like a target,” he said, “and I’ve always known that whatever I do, people would hear about it. So I’ve had my guard up, and maybe that’s molded my personality.” He knew throughout his life that anything and everything that he did was going to be brought to everyone’s attention.
Peyton Manning finished his football career at Tennessee in flying colors going down in history with some of the greats. The Indianapolis Colts later picked Manning first overall in the 1998 NFL draft in which he continued to shine. More so, in accordance with the Colts website, “with Manning taking snaps, the Colts won 150 games, eight division titles and two AFC championships. He broke all of the franchise’s major career passing records, previously held by Hall-of-Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas.” He threw for 399 touchdowns, won the most valuable player 4 times, and won the super bowl once engraving his name in the Indianapolis history book.
Manning, after suffering a serious neck injury, was then signed to play for the Denver Broncos in which his powerful legacy continued to live on. He played in Denver for five seasons, leading them to the super bowl twice. Peyton threw for another 140 passing touchdowns making him the NFL all time leader in passing touchdowns passing Brett Favre. He won another MVP award and added to his statistical numbers making him the most winning quarterback to go down in NFL history.
While this all exemplifies Manning as an elite quarterback on the field, he was also portrayed as an elite human being off the field. This was due to the fact that his private life was kept concealed throughout his whole career. Bob Carter of ESPN classic dives into this angelic man’s wrongdoings. “His reputation, though, took a hit when an assistant UT trainer filed a sexual harassment suit against the university. Among 33 complaints, she charged Manning with baring his buttocks in her face in 1996 while she was treating his foot. She agreed to a $300,000 settlement with Tennessee the next year. In 2002, the trainer sued again after Manning, in a father-son biography, claimed he was mooning another athlete that day and noted that the trainer had a “vulgar mouth.”
Jamie Naughright’s defamation of character suit was settled in 2003, the details sealed by the court.” Peyton is not the standup citizen that most see him as and that is because of his talent on the field overrides what he does off the field. He sexually assaulted Jamie Naughright in 2003 but kept it foreclosed through a settlement. Through his vulgar behavior not coming out until over 10 years later, it sort of has a stigma around it that what Peyton did was acceptable because of his fame and money. Naughright’s lawsuit against Manning was settled in 1997 with the agreement that she leaves the university, so in the bigger picture ended up being the punished one.
This story has a direct correlation on societal impact through the use of idolism. Peyton Manning took godlike form in his days at The University of Tennessee in 1996 and the story didn’t resurface until 2003 and then later again in 2015. Because Peyton Manning was so important to the football world and because his accolades are so honorable, society didn’t want to believe them. Peyton nevertheless denied the allegations claiming that females shouldn’t be allowed in the locker rooms.
So, whom is everyone going to believe, the deity of a football legend or some University of Tennessee football trainer? Of course, again using idolism, the masses will take Peyton’s side and conform to his belief that his sexual assaulting of Miss Naughright was not wrong. The idea of sexual assault is prominent throughout sports and has made women as a whole afraid to come out and speak. Shaun King of Daily News adds light to the misbehavior in his words that “Certainly, evangelical op-eds calling him ‘squeaky clean’ and positioning Peyton as the arbiter of all things good and decent in the world simply wouldn’t be the case.”
This statement alludes to a multitude of questions that come to mind. If Peyton was found guilty of sexually assaulting Jamie Naughright would he: have been expelled from Tennessee, had such an unreal football career, and been known as this honest legend that he is today? It seems that the rational masses would like to infer that his career on and off the field would have been affected. Professional athletes being able to get away with a criminal offence simply impacts society because it gives off the belief that what they did is cut and dry okay. It forces the masses to deem that if he can, then why can’t I. Due to the fact that this happened in 1996 sort of in a way makes this go unnoticed but to me, the main reason is because Peyton Manning is who Peyton Manning is.
All in all, for some reason this has surpassed the media for several years but Peyton Manning should be under national spotlight for his criminal actions. Society was impacted in the belief that the wrongdoing is okay depending on who you are. That simply put, isn’t democracy and isn’t right. Due process tries everyone equally as an individual and that just didn’t happen in this case. Regardless of the fact, Peyton is innocent until he is proven guilty and quite frankly he should be for his lapse of moral judgment.