By: Desmond Boyle, Staff Writer
It has unfortunately become an all too common ritual for celebrated and talented athletes to be accused of something that sheds light on their lives off of the playing field.
A part of this ritual, there is always intense media analyzation of the athletes’ response in the days following the accusation. For example, Peyton Manning should be celebrating his second Super Bowl win and the end of an amazing career as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
Instead, the former Super Bowl MVP is lying low amid allegations that he exposed himself to a medical trainer while at the University of Tennessee and then dishonestly defamed her character in his and his father Archie Manning’s book, “The Mannings” according to an article in the New York Post written by Shaun King. Manning violated a confidentiality agreement he had with the accuser, Doctor Jamie Naughright, by discussing her in the book.
Manning’s defense of the sexual assault incident has also been refuted by people who were present. Naughtright claimed that Manning placed his genitals on her head while she was working on his ankle in the locker room. Manning claimed that he was joking around trying to moon fellow athlete Malcolm Saxon. Saxon has not only denied Manning’s claims when talking to University of Tennessee officials, he even went as so far to write Manning a letter urging him to apologize.
Allegations of steroid use produced a second scathing denial from Manning over the past year as Manning strongly ridiculed the news organization Al-Jazeera after it released a report claiming that Manning’s wife, Ashley had visited pharmacist Joseph Sly and purchased Human Growth Hormone for Peyton to use. Manning called the allegations fabrications and called the story and network “trash” and “garbage.”
Another athlete who defended himself with hostile speech against his accuser was Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. After being linked for just under a year to steroids because of an alleged failed test and ties to the BALCO medical supply company, Braun won his initial appeal because the test took too long to be transported from the collecting agency to the testing lab.
Braun then stated of the process, “There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened…We spoke to biochemists and scientists and we asked them, ‘How difficult would it be to tamper with somebody’s sample?’ And their response was that, ‘If they were motivated, it would be extremely easy.’”
Braun also called himself a victim in that denial speech and his lawyer repeatedly suggested that the handler of the test be fired. Braun later had to apologize for accepting a 50 game suspension that resulted from that same failed drug test after it was proven that the tests were unaltered. These two denials pale in comparison to the king of protracted aggressive denials, Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong became a global phenomenon after surviving testicular cancer and becoming the most successful cyclist of his generation. While winning seven Tour de France titles and from 1998 to his first retirement in 2005, Armstrong constantly battled accusations of steroid use and blood doping. One of the accusers was a masseuse who traveled with Lance’s cycling team, Team US Postal, Emma O’Reilly who said she witnessed Armstrong blood doping and using steroids.
In response, Armstrong called O’Reilly a whore, prostitute and alcoholic in an attempt to delegitimize her claims. These claims are eerily similar to the claims that Manning made about Doctor Naughright in the book. Manning’s accusations ranged from the mundane like claiming that Naughright had a vulgar mouth to more severe charges like claiming she had sex with several athletes that she worked for. These claims have been unanimously denied by athletes who Naughtright worked with at Tennessee.
In contrast, athletes who keep their denials quiet and stay away from victim blaming are often vindicated by the truth later on. Patrick Kane was coming off of a third Stanley Cup win when he was hit with allegations of sexual assault for an incident that took place at his Hamburg, New York residence. Kane addressed the allegations in one press conference in which he called the incident a distraction but refused to address the accuser when asked questions from the media.
One of the most infamous false allegations in sports was the Duke Lacrosse rape scandal that took place in 2006. Dancer Crystal Gail Mangum accused three members of the Duke Lacrosse team of raping her at a party held at an off campus house. Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans were accused and acquitted of the rape after the case lacked any physical evidence and all three players had alibis on the night in question.
Evans was the most vocal of the accused and made a statement declaring his innocence, but not attacking the accuser, just after being arrested. After being acquitted, Evans spoke for the accused and called for no one to attack the accuser, and stated that he and his fellow accused felt sympathetic toward her. This is a stark contrast from the previously mentioned athletes who have been found guilty.
Despite the fact that their accuser had faced legal troubles in the past along with drug addiction, they never brought it up. Despite the fact that Prosecutor Mike Nifong had been convicted of improper actions during his investigations, they never publically attacked him. The three accused never resorted to personal attacks to prove their innocence or reach a settlement with Duke University.
So what does all of this mean for the current accusations about Peyton Manning? Unfortunately it means that as usual with these cases, the truth may or may not come out, but you won’t find it in Manning’s denials.