Blame it on the black man. That’s always an easy way out of things if you’re white, male and privileged. That’ll get you courtside seats to hang out and bump elbows with the best player in the NBA. It might even get you a pass from media scrutiny and facing criminal charges after allegedly sexually assaulting a woman, shredding her character and then trying to wreck her career.
It may even get you elected into political office.
Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Ray Rice cannot speak on having that kind of privilege. But Peyton Manning sure can. If you just happened to stomach through the 74-page legal complaint filed by a former University of Tennessee athletic trainer 20 years ago, race-baiting overtones from the Manning father (Archie) and son team, you will come away thinking that being black means being a rapist, being oversexualized and a criminal.
Unfortunately, that is the narrative that has been painted too often by society of black men. Peyton Manning and Archie Manning decided to add their two cents to that generalization conversation. Now its come back to bite them in the rear end. According to court documents filed by Dr. Jamie Naughright-that has somehow managed to come to light after two decades, the Mannings went all in on the smear the black man and degrade the white woman categories if you believe the sworn affidavit.
The 1996 incident in which Peyton Manning and the school’s athletic department allegedly sought to cover up his inappropriate actions by trying to convince Naughright to say it was a black athlete who exposed himself to her, sums this up in a nutshell.
“They asked me to go with the story that was-the reason why I left (leave of absence after incident) was because of another athlete, who was African American, exposed himself and said something. They wanted to have me say that was the reason and the not the reason of what Mr. Manning did when he assaulted me,” Naughright said in testimony in that lawsuit, which was one of two claims she settled with Peyton Manning out of court.
Yeah, Peyton Manning and the University of Tennessee allegedly went there. It is the South, isn’t it? Naughright refused to go along with those orders, putting the onus on Manning.
What is troubling for me is that this subtext is merely a backdrop of Naughright’s sexual assault claim against Manning that is not being referenced in its totality by the media. Why did Manning and Tennessee feel the need to inject a fictional black man into their mess unless in the back of their minds they think that by criminalizing an African American, it would be much easier to accept as something all black men do?
This is both troubling and disturbing. No, it is a downright racist mindset to think that way, a prime example of the good old boys network trying to work their spell of false narratives about a black man.
There is a lot to discuss when it comes to dissecting the whirlwind mess that has come about from the legal filing by Naughright, and the subsequent recent explosive article expertly written by the New York Daily News Shaun King.
The first of two stories written by King on this topic, slices through the two-time Super Bowl quarterback’s prestine, wholesome image, and unleashes a bombshell that the NFL did not see coming the way opponents didn’t manage to see a Mike Tyson uppercut crushing in their faces.
The sports world, particularly the NFL, is now on fire due to the nasty revelations of Peyton Manning’s alleged sexual assault actions against Naughright. In light of the NFL’s recent policies to highlight domestic violence and its enthusiasm to curb sexual assault issues among its members, the news about Peyton Manning is extremely relevant.
Jameis Winston, the rookie quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, didn’t get a pass, so why should Manning receive one?
The snowball effect in this drama continues with the equally disturbing alleged sexual harassment behavior of head athletic trainer Mike Rollo (Rollo allegedly went on an alleged two-year stint of name-calling and taunting charade of Naughright with routine nicknames such as “cunt bumper,” and referred to the University of Tennessee Vols Lady Volunteers as “Lady Lickers” to imply lesbian behavior by the women’s basketball team), the damning indictment of the media’s failure to adequately report about the wrongdoing of “America’s favorite son” and the not-so-kind alleged smear campaign to bully, discredit and destroy the professional career of Naughright allegedly by the Mannings.
That’s saying a mouthful. And it also says that there is a culture of bullying, intimidation and ruthless power gone amok that comes with unprecedented capital that an athletic program has when gone unchecked by both the NCAA and Congress. I say Congress because the University of Tennessee, now hit with a class-action Title IX lawsuit, receives federal funds like most Division I schools.
This is an example of the corruption that comes with the millions of dollars being poured into these universities where the majority of these coaches are white and male. Those in charge of running these mega programs like Phillip Fulmer (head coach of University of Tennessee football team) rarely are accounted for while student athletes lose their eligibility just getting a slice of pizza from the man next door.
This speaks to a race double-standard, just like the media’s coverage of this Peyton Manning fiasco. Mainstream media clearly dropped the ball on this story. Let me correct myself, the media chose not to cover this story, but feel at home tearing down black athletes at just about their every whim. If not, then why do we continue to hear about Michael Vick’s dogfighting days in which he went to prison for almost a decade ago.
For the last 10 years, every announcer I’ve listened to has mentioned Vick and his dogfighting days at every chance they could get, like they felt the responsibility to remind everyone the sins that Vick committed. We’re still hearing about it today. And we’ve gotten an earful already about Cam Newton and the stolen laptop. How many times do we need to be reminded of that incident by the media?
Johnny Manziel can do all the things wrong as an NFL quarterback, including allegedly beat his girlfriend, showing up to practice drunk, and yet we do not hear the same vile and cynic criticism of the Cleveland Browns quarterback the way we’ve heard about Vick or Newton.
Of course, this is about race. It is that white male privilege (WMP) syndrome that has allowed Manziel to go unchecked and basically unscathed and have allowed Manning to have this story buried in the cornfields somewhere for the last 20 years.
Well, that’s what I take from this whole Peyton Manning circus. It is pretty disgusting. I wonder where are all those Denver Broncos (Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, Danny Trevathan) defensive players who showed their litany for buffoonery when they verbally ripped apart Newton, the NFL’s regular season MVP, after the Broncos defeated the Panthers in Super Bowl 50?
They are nowhere to be found. I really wonder as black men how do they feel now about Peyton and his daddy making racist overtone statements about associating African American men with criminality and the implied notion that blacks and whites should not mingle romantically?
“I don’t do color,” Archie Manning allegedly said in deposition according to Naughright’s lawsuit. “Some people think that a [trainer should not be going out with blacks if the trainer is white].”
Playing the race card can comeback and bite you in the tailpipe end if you’re sloppy with showing off your hand. Peyton Manning and his daddy, the beloved Archie Manning, apparently didn’t learn that lesson.
I write about sports, racial and social justice, culture, and everything else in between. Beat writer for the Rams, Chargers, Lakers, and Clippers. Part of the inaugural Associated Press Sports Editors Diversity Fellowship class. Howard University alum.