Just one week ago life was perfecrt for Peyton Manning, and his Denver Broncos teammates as they had just capped off a great season with a win in Super Bowl 50. Manning was seen riding a float through the streets of Disneyland with his family waving to the crowds of fans who were excited to see the five-time NFL MVP and two-time Super Bowl champions quarterback,
Fast-forward one week and Manning is now faced with the fact that his name has been part of a lawsuit filed by six University of Tennessee female students in a sexual harrassment suit against the university.
It is a sorted tale to say the least that dates bak to Manning time as the quarterback for the Volunteers.
Without going into all the details of the incident between Manning and a decorated member of the Volunteers training staff, the quarterback was alleged to have sexually assaulted her during an examination of his foot. Manning and his father Archie later wrote a book aptly named "Manning" in which the pair made mention of Jamie Naughtright setting off a firestorm that ended with the Mannings settling a defamation lawsuit with Naughtright.
For those who have not heard all the sorted details and would like to do so, here is a link to the New York Daily News story published on Saturday by Shaun King -who has issues of his own that lead some to question his motives for the story in the first place- that goes into great depth about the events leading up to the defamation suit and all that was entailed in the disturbing incident.
The incident made headlines in 2003 when it initially came to light that Manning had been accused of the inapropriate act. It was big news but then faded into the background and Manning went on the have a prolific career in Knoxville on his way to becoming the first overall selection by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Since that time however, Manning has built a squeaky clean image that has lead to him becoming a master pitch man for muiltiple national corporations who pay millions of dollars to have the sports icon and future Hall of Fame quarterback hawk their products.
Over the last two day the media has fed on the King story to take their turn comdemning of defending Manning against the details of the story. It has been rough as the passions have run high on both sides of the issue.
While Manning has been a model citizen in the NFL, having never been arrested- not that I would have expected him to have been- and not involved in any public scandals, it is easy to see how fans around the country have gravitated to the personable and likable personality Manning displays while singing a familiar jingle in a commercial for a well-known major insurance company.
There have been rumors however inside NFL circles over the last few years that would bring into question that image that Manning has worked hard to portray. While they are just rumors, and I can neither confirm nor deny their validity, and I will not share those rumors here or anywhere else for that matter, they have still made the rounds among people with knowledge of Manning in his time with the Colts and Broncos.
Let me be perfectly clear on this point. Mannig is a human being, subject to the same frailties and vices that we all face daily. He has been built up by the media, fans and the PR hype machings that need his image to sell their products. On an icon level, finding out that Manning is only human might shock and disappoint some fans, but the reality is that while he is a star of ajor proportions in the sports world, he is still only human.
People need to remember that when choosing to place sports heros on a pedestal.
For months now there have also been rumors that the Tennessee Titans were interested in bringing Manning in as a member of upper management. Manning has long been rumored to have an interest in that role with some team after he retires as a player. The rumors of his retirement have been circulating all season and intensified during the pregame shows leading up to the Super Bowl.
Every time someone writes a story saying Manning to the Titans, fans of the team jump for joy at the prospect of having their hero and football savant ihelp rescue the franchise from the doldrums it has experienced in recent years.
Manning would certainly bring a boost to an organization with his knowledge of the game and his experience and talent evaluation skills, not to mention the national media attention that would come with having him as part of the organization.
At the same time, this might not be the best time to add someone with these looming issues to a team with a first time- first year general manager and a new head coach who are trying to build a relationship and right the ship.
The frachise needs stability and while Manning could be a welcome addition in many areas, is this really a distraction the team needs?
It all may be a moot point as Manning has not announced his intentions in regard to retirement, and he might not be interested in returning to Tennessee as part of the Titans organization anyway.
Still as the rumors grow and fans hopes continue, these are things that should be considered in regard to what the Titans are currently attemtping to do.
Do the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice versa. Those are the questions that Titans ownership might have to answer soon if Manning does indeed retire and put himself on the open market for teams to bid on his services.
Even in retirement, Manning could be a top free agent for the coming season, but will the Titans be in the bidding, or should they?
It's all just a rumor right now, but perhaps we will find out the truth soon enough.