February 16, 2016 by gregrabidoux2013
When I was young, many moons ago, the word “brand” had not yet thrust itself into the everyday lexicon of every man, woman and social media conscious child. In fact, when you did happen to see the word “Brand” it was usually followed by the letter “X” and it never seemed to wash clothes, get stains out or whiten your teeth as well as the “other” brand which came with a name you knew and trusted. Crest. Arm and Hammer. G.E. Colgate.
The First Family of the NFL. The Sheriff. Yep, Mr. Papa Johns, Nationwide Insurance and Budweiser (Gee, what beer are you going to drink to celebrate your Super Bowl win again Peyton? We didn’t catch it the first 4 times you shamelessly plugged it in post-game interviews.)
See Cam that’s why you give those dang interviews in the first place, cuz it’s always about the brand The brand. It’s all about the brand. (Is there a Mr. Grouchy-Pants toy Cam could sell now?)
But why all this talk about brands and Peyton Manning?
Because once again we see the wisdom in the words uttered so cynically yet truthfully by Charles Barkley years ago-“I ain’t no role model. And you shouldn’t look to sports for that anyways.”
Nor Hollywood but we’ll get to that in a moment.
In 1996 while a senior quarterback at the University of Tennessee a then 19 year-old Peyton was accused of sexually assaulting a female director of health and wellness, Dr. Jamie Naughright, who was a full-time employee with the UT Athletic Department assigned to the young sheriff’s team. While she was examining Peyton’s foot injury she alleges that he “forcefully maneuvered his naked testicles and rectum directly on to her face.” He denied the allegation then, saying it was a “mooning…a prank gone wrong.”
The accuser and the respondent eventually settled 3 years later in an out of court settlement for an undisclosed amount of money. With terms to be kept confidential. Yet, in 2003 the two parties were facing each other (or at least their legal guns) in court again. This time Dr. Naughright was accusing Peyton Manning of intentionally defaming her in a book he co-authored with his father and former NFL player, Archie Manning, in which the section in the book on the good doctor was unflattering to say the least.
In short, she claimed Peyton wasn’t smart enough to keep his mouth shut even when he had signed a legally binding agreement to do so. He denied the allegation. About 2 years later they signed yet another confidential agreement and settled again out of court, this time for a disclosed amount of $300,000 paid to Dr. Naughright by the Manning family.
Now, while you are digesting this news, no doubt munching a Papa Johns thin-crust pizza and washing it down with, what else, a cold Bud, you may be wondering-Why am I just hearing this stuff now for the first time?
You see, attorneys for a number of female plaintiffs are suing the University of Tennessee now, alleging in part that the school violated Title IX provisions and federal and state sexual hostile workplace laws dating back to, you guessed it, as far as 1996 when one Peyton Manning allegedly “volunteered” certain parts of himself in an allegedly unlawful manner while being medically examined.
Again, he says a prank gone wrong and that he was “inappropriate but not criminal.” Just the words you want to hear from your sports idol, right?
Yet, worse, the 2 fellow football players he claimed at the time would corroborate his story both denied any such prank and perhaps, not surprisingly, since they were both not named Manning, soon found their scholarships revoked and were no longer on the team.
Dr. Naughright, as one of the conditions of the settlement by the way, also left the University of Tennessee. But her allegation, along with her testimony is being now made public as part of this ongoing lawsuit. In part, UT officials are being brought to task for allegedly doing next to nothing in response to a recent accusation that a female student was raped by a then UT basketball player despite being put on notice that a sexually hostile environment existed at UT since about 1996.
This news all comes on the heel of broad allegations by Al Jazeera News that Human Growth Hormone was delivered to the Manning home, addressed to his wife, during the time he, Peyton Manning, was rehabilitating from his neck surgeries. In that explosive news story, the main though not only news source has since recanted his claim, saying he “made it up for money.” It is intriguing that he did this shortly after being visited by private investigators hired by the Manning family to do what they called “preemptive damage assessment.”
Geez. This guy has a future in politics if that whole pizza, beer and insurance gig falls apart any time soon.
So, here we are again. When we should be savoring the “fairy tale ending” of “the Sheriff” basking in his Super Bowl win, no doubt riding off into the sunset after nearly two full decades of NFL greatness, his legend firmly cemented, his first Hall of Fame ballot already waiting to be filled out, we are, instead, now left to ponder-
Just who is this Peyton Manning fellow anyways? A good guy who made a couple of bad decisions here and there or is there (I hope not) more darkness just bursting to leap out of the closet?
How well do we really know any heroic athletes and celebrities we idolize and worship come to think of it?
Even though we live in a social media-driven society with Twitter and Instagram allowing us unprecedented access, we don’t really know, do we?
Did you know Andre Agassi was dropping lines of Cocaine and wearing a Toupee during his US Open win? I didn’t and I am a pretty serious player and historian of the game. I do now though but only since he confessed to it in a recent book.
The norm though is we are privy only to the finely polished and honed “brand” that athletes and celebrities and a whole bevy of their hired promoters and agents create and distribute for our consumption. Don’t we all still want to be “like Mike?” Even though, he was by his first wife’s testimony, a “serial adulterer” with “undisclosed children” who was not at all like the “Nike Mike” during their divorce. Things got so nasty at one point that apparently, the legendary founder of Nike, Phil Nike, stepped in and all but pushed Michael Jordan to clean up the mess lest their joint billion-dollar brand and partnership suffer irreversible, global earnings loss. Within 2 days, MJ met with his first wife and they agreed to an undisclosed and confidential settlement.
At least “Air Jordan” had the good sense to keep his mouth shut so far as we know.
That lovable Dr.Huxtable, aka, the “Coz,” aka., that serial rapist, Bill Cosby sure was great at keeping lots of dark stuff hidden. Maybe we just never wanted to know the real truth about that Jell-O pudding he kept shoving down our throats for decades.
Tiger Woods, prostitutes and then-wife Elin Nordegren beating him about the head and shoulders with a golf club that fateful Thanksgiving day. Poof. There went the myth of Tiger. Has he or his beloved brand ever been the same since?
That “Lion of Cycling” Lance Armstrong. Live Strong. Stay Strong. And tell really strong lies. Talk about a self-inflicted brand-bike crash.
Johnny Manziel, aka, “Johnny Football” a college football legend n 2013 turned domestic abuser, alcoholic, DJ-wanna-be by 2016 who at the ripe-old age of 24 seems destined now to never make it in the NFL. Wow. That was fast.
I could go on and on but frankly I am already getting depressed. I passed disillusioned years ago. Generations past were shocked when their “Hollywood Hunk” Rock Hudson got AIDS and finally admitted he was gay. Gasp. Really, that wasn’t obvious to anyone over 35? OK. I guess.
It’d be like if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson came out of his WWF closet today, right? What? Too soon? Not that there’d be anything wrong with that.
Look. It seems it’s human nature to want to ascribe heroic and majestic qualities to our athletes and celebrities who seem to accomplish super-human feats on the field, the court or the screen. But every time we see behind the curtain, every time we see that the person does not quite fit the “brand” we are left once again with the words of “Sir Charles”-‘I ain’t no role model.’
How true. In God only is there perfection.
The rest of us are flawed from the get-go. It’s just tempting sometimes to believe otherwise.
But boy, what a sore loser that Cam Newton is huh? I always knew he was too good to be true.