The Manning Mess

After reading the 74-page court document, the NY Times article by Shaun King, plus the wide range of reactions in the media, the old adage is proving true once again.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

In case you missed it all… the same week Cam Newton was getting roasted in the media for acting like a petulant little baby after his Super Bowl 50 beatdown, an allegation of sexual harassment against Peyton Manning when he was at the University of Tennessee in 1996 re-appeared in the media. Originally the story broke in 1996 and again in 2003 – neither time were criminal charges brought against Manning. Each time he settled.

Some writers are claiming racism has once again raised its ugly head in how the media is handling this. Cam is getting the business for merely walking out of an interview while Manning is getting a free pass for what on the surface sounds like at least sexual harassment, possibly more than that.

The problem with that theory? Russell Wilson lost the Super Bowl last year and he was treated fairly well in the media. So was Donavan McNabb and Steve McNair. Black QB’s who lost the Super Bowl as well as Cam – if we are going with the racism card. Difference? Each of those men answered questions, didn’t pout, didn’t point to themselves all year by dabbing, taking selfies, celebrating TD’s, claiming the NFL had never seen anything like himself and then on the biggest stage in the biggest game lay an egg than ran from the media afterward. That’s why Cam is getting roasted.

Cam’s issues can be easily fixed. Win next year. Change an attitude when the losses happen. Flash that smile even when times are tough. All is good.

Manning has a bigger mess. A much bigger mess.

If you haven’t read the story by King in the NY Times, go read it. Yes, the 74-page court document is incredibly slanted against Manning BUT even a blind man can see there are two huge issues that somehow, someway the entire sports entertainment industry missed or chose to ignore.

Issue 1: Manning went out of his way to attack the accuser in his book published in 2002. He broke the confidentially agreement he signed in the settlement he agreed to in 1996. Which prompted another lawsuit and wrongful termination of the accuser. And another settlement.

Issue 2: Manning’s only alibi NEVER agreed with him. Never. From the start. So the whole – “it was a college prank gone wrong” seems disingenuous at best.

Manning has built hospitals, written letters to kids and soldiers, and given away more money than most of us will ever make. He’s articulate and likeable. He pokes fun at himself on talk shows. He handles the wins and losses exactly the way every coach teaches his player to handle them.

So he’s not the Spawn of Satan.

But he’s not what the image is either. Bronco fans know full well that while he won an awful lot of games, he has also been an incredible pain in the rear. He’s put himself before the team – his salary, playing when clearly he was too injured to play, being less than supportive with all the offseason changes, his benching. Even Archie got in on the act by saying after the Super Bowl “I think Peyton’s done in Denver. He may be done everywhere.”

We caught the subtext. And it’s par for the course. Mess with Peyton, get the nicest version of the scorched-earth policy that you’ve ever seen.

Legally, the 1996 accusation is going to have little if any effect on Manning. The statute of limitations has run out. The settlements have been signed, sealed, and delivered.

The larger issue to not miss is the Manning story is one of like 24 different issues that the University of Tennessee is facing under a Title IX suit. This would be the 3rd major university in the past few months that is being sued under Title IX for having a campus environment that is hostile to female students. Florida State just settled their case last month. Baylor is now under investigation following an ESPN Outside The Lines report.

Manning also has that nagging HGH story to deal with. The NFL has been quiet and I wonder if this is just a big game of chicken between the NFL and the Mannings. Who is going to flitch first? Will Manning retire and make it go away? Or will he pull a Favre like exit? Forcing Denver to cut him and him limping out his final playing days in some hideous jersey as a shell of his former self. Furthermore, has this whole Tennessee mess undone Peyton’s grand plan of retiring and going back to the Vols as a coach?

The point is, Cam’s issues are temporary and easily repaired. Manning’s – not so much. And retiring quickly would be a great first step for him.

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