The New York Daily News made some noise on Saturday, having been the first legitimate news outlet to go after Peyton Manning for getting off unscathed for allegedly sexually assaulting a female trainer back during his college days in Tennessee. It’s been a story that has been mentioned in several reports, but the Daily News went in-depth while uncovering facts about the squeaky clean quarterback which painted a less than perfect picture of the recent Super Bowl Champion.
For anyone who hasn’t heard, Manning was involved in a scandal back during his time as the quarterback at the University of Tennessee where he allgedly sexually assaulted the then well-respected Director of Health and Wellness, Jamie Naughwright, who at the time was also the Volunteers’ head trainer. The incident occurred while Naughwright was examining Manning’s foot for a potential bone fracture, which Manning then “forcefully maneuvered his naked testicles and rectum directly on her face with his penis on top of her head.”
It ultimately lead to Naughwright filing a complaint that was eventually settled as the Manning family and the University did their best to bury the incident. Considering the fact it took place back in 1996, which was an era before social media, before Twitter, before Facebook, it was the perfect environment to make a bad decision and escape relatively unscathed. Naughwright was forced out from Tennessee, the University where she had served since 1989 and had an impeccable reputation. But that didn’t stop them from siding with their star quarterback.
Manning claimed he mooned a teammate, but that same teammate denied that Manning did so, imploring him to do the right thing “and own up to what you did”. However, that didn’t happen and she was asked by the University to leave. Thanks to a settlement agreement, the two sides agreed to keep everything confidential due to the agreement within the document.
However, the arrogance of Manning and his father stirred the pot again and opened all the wounds back up for Naughwright. Manning and his father, Archie, released a book in 2001 and Peyton referred to the former trainer in the book in a derogatory manner, which due to the distraction it caused where she was working at Florida Southern, cost Naughwright her job due to the controversy and the stress it created.
She fought back, suing the Mannings and the ghost writer of the book in a defamation suit. The best part was, the judge sided with her and the case went to court, leading to a public battle where Manning continued to try and make up stories about her, which we won’t get into here because it’s pretty despicable, but strangely enough he received no support from former players and students who testified in court weren’t true. It was ultimately settled in 2003 and the terms were not disclosed.
But do you think Manning learned his lesson? No…not at all.
He made remarks referencing her again during a documentary entitled “ESPN Classic Sports Century: Peyton Manning,” clearly ignoring the court agreement. Naughwright didn’t let that one slide either, filing a motion against him on Friday January 14, 2005, just days before he was set to play the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional round. For anyone who remembers, Manning and the Colts came into that game as the dominant offense in the NFL, throwing 49 touchdowns and finishing as the league’s MVP.
But with another lawsuit looming before the contest, Manning’s dismal performance in a 20-3 defeat against a dominant Patriots defense now takes on a little more intrigue considering how no one knew what was brewing in the background. No real mention of that story was made at the time, with just the Florida Times-Union as the remaining outlet with any mention of the filing.
Fast forward to this year where little was mentioned again of that story or the HGH report from Al Jazeera that built a strong case against Manning and certainly falls into the “more probable than not” that something fishy was going on. The league claims they’re looking into it, but it won’t make any where near the amount of noise DeflateGate did.
As for the sexual assault, the Daily News taking the time to write the story expounding on the disgusting details of what Manning did is refreshing. However, according to a Tweet from WEEI’s John Dennis, don’t expect ESPN to say anything as Dennis reported that the network has specifically told their employees not to report or discuss the Daily News story on the quarterback.
I was just told by a current ESPN anchor that all ESPN employees were told not to report or discuss the Daily News story on Peyton Manning.
— Mut at Night (@MutAtNightWEEI) February 14, 2016
That means that, like the HGH story, what Manning did will get swept under the rug again while Goodell will spend his next two weeks likely working on finishing the job of trying to make sure Brady is a spectator for the first four games of 2016.
The commissioner loves to throw the word “integrity” around, but there’s no integrity with either Goodell or his soon-to-retire poster boy. Instead, it’s simply arrogance and denial by the person in charge of a league which, like Manning, would rather bowl through anyone who accuses them of being wrong instead of doing the right thing by owning up to a mistake and admitting fault.
Credit Naughwright for standing up to Manning repeatedly and fighting for what’s right. Tom Brady has tried to do the same and when you consider his reputation and the way he carries himself, it makes you wonder why the magnitude of this story won’t dominate the headlines like 1psi from cold weather did last year.
The commissioner equated DeflateGate to being as egregious as the use of PEDs. Now there’s evidence his guy used HGH and proof of the assault before he even arrived n the league and two more suits against him as an NFL player stemming from that incident.
Granted, the original incident occurred before Manning got to the league, but it still defines the type of person he is despite the image and persona he’s managed to develop over his career. That’s someone’s daughter, and someone who at least deserved having him man-up and apologize for what he did to her.
But he didn’t, and the commissioner of the league still reveres him and yet he’s pursuing a player over an allegation without proof who has done all the right things over his career both on and off the field. It’s arrogance at it’s best, something that both Manning and Goodell definitely have in common in a league whose priorities are clearly so far gone that it defies logic.
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