The multitude of endorsement opportunities and the clean reputation of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning have long made him one of the faces of the National Football League and one of the media’s “golden boys.” ESPN, meanwhile, has long been the “Worldwide Leader” in sports entertainment and has played a major role in promoting Peyton Manning’s brand and his image.
However, the two-time Super Bowl champion and Papa John’s wingman-Manning may not be the squeaky clean golden boy that he is perceived to be by the national media, as Shaun King of The New York Daily News posted an article on Saturday full of disturbing details from an incident which occurred when Manning attended the University of Tennessee in 1996. Manning allegedly “teabagged” a female trainer named Jaime Ann Naughright. However, this is not the first time that this story has been reported, as Barstool Sports, Deadspin, and USA-Today all have done write-ups on the matter in the past. While King’s story certainly sheds more light on the allegations against Manning from ’96, it also brings about the idea of a cover-up and a smear campaign by the University of Tennessee and the Manning family, as King states that he acquired documents that could have exposed Manning as a ‘scumbag’ had their been social media such as Facebook and Twitter back in 1996. King states:
“But as his career winds down, we’re left to grapple with the reality that there is credible evidence that Peyton and the Manning family knowingly, willingly, wantonly ruined the good name and career of Dr. Jamie Naughright, a respected scholar, speaker, professor, and trainer of some of the best athletes in the world.”
Now, two questions are brought to light:
1.) Is Manning, in fact, a bad guy and are these allegations true?
2.) Where is ESPN, a.k.a. “The Worldwide Leader In Sports,” when it comes to covering this story?
Whether or not Peyton Manning did or did not do this disgraceful act and whether or not he, his family, and the University of Tennessee willingly got Mrs. Naughright fired and ruined her name is a discussion far beyond the knowledge of anybody not directly related to the matter. The better question here is why isn’t ESPN hammering this guy like they did with Tom Brady? The answer is quite simple: the media (especially ESPN) loves Peyton Manning, and Peyton and his family do everything in their power to make sure that they are able to manipulate the media to adoring Peyton and Eli rather than have a grudge against them. ESPN is easily the biggest player at the poker table when it comes to reporting on Peyton Manning and making him look like the next coming of Christ. Heck, Ed Werder pretty much lives in Peyton Manning’s sock drawer. If Peyton Manning goes down, then so does ESPN and the NFL for putting him on every commercial on a given Sunday afternoon in the fall and making him out to be some type of hero. So, it is no wonder why ESPN told its employees to not report on the Shaun King story:
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.
— Dennis and Callahan (@DandCShow) February 14, 2016
Following the HGH allegations being made against Manning in the Al Jazeera report back in December, ESPN refused to point the finger at him and assume guilt until proven innocent like they did with Tom Brady during ‘Deflategate.’ This is something that raised some eyebrows and discussions of possible bias that ESPN and the rest of the national media had when it came to credibility and reporting on stories containing certain athletes. Now, Manning is being not only accused of doing an awful act to a woman and possibly attempting a coverup or smear campaign against her, but a recent report in the Washington Post stated that ‘goons’ hired by Manning’s team of investigators visited the house of Charlie Sly (the man who was recorded saying Manning took HGH) and were dressed as police officers. The men reportedly threatened Sly and his family and failed to show any signs of identification or police badges before leaving the house. Yet, even after all of this, ESPN has not posted even one article, one story, one Outside The Lines report, or tweet about the scumbags visiting Charlie Sly’s house, or Manning being part of a cover-up operation or smear campaign against the victim.
The only measly thing ESPN has posted on the Manning sexual assault case/cover-up thus far is this bush league article which states that Manning was named in the report. After claiming Manning was named in the official report and the Title IX lawsuit filed by multiple women against the University of Tennessee, this narrative by ESPN fails to give any further details or information on Manning specifically and instead goes into how universities all across the country (Tennessee, Baylor, etc) need to handle sexual assault allegations better. The article even goes on to name other cases at the Univerisity of Tennessee involving other players, rather than just sticking to discussing the incident related to Manning, the one that the title of the article is about. If you are ESPN, why are you wasting your time reporting on some nobody at the University of Tennessee who was also involved in a similar case of sexual assault FOR A GOOD PORTION OF THE ARTICLE where you were discussing the quarterback of the team who just won the Super Bowl and is likely a first ballot Hall of Famer also being involved? Again, the answer is simple: something is up.
All of the information is there for the court of public of public opinion to believe that something is up with ESPN, the NFL, and Peyton Manning. Why was Tom Brady, Robert Kraft, and the entire New England Patriots organization dragged through the mud and immediately assumed to be guilty last January-August, especially by members of ESPN’s television staff who stated on the air that “New England/Brady was guilty,” and “they didn’t believe what Brady/Kraft/Belichick had to say.” Manning may have done it, Manning may also not have done it. But too many reports are out there (goons at Sly’s house, Washington Post, Shaun King report, etc) for the Worldwide Leader In Sports to simply throw this story under the rug and tell its employees and television analysts to not discuss the matter. That seems more than just a tad bit fishy, wouldn’t you agree?