The women’s rights group that has been trying since September 2014 to force Commissioner Roger Goodell out of his job has now turned its attention to Peyton Manning.
Via ESPN.com, UltraViolet has called upon the NFL to investigate Manning — and it has urged companies like Papa John’s and Nationwide to suspend their relationships with him.
“While it is outrageous that the University of Tennessee chose to turn a blind eye to sexual violence by student athletes like Manning, it would be flat-out unacceptable for the NFL and major companies like Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza to continue to stand with Manning in light of emerging evidence,” UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a press release. “The NFL should thoroughly investigate this incident before allowing Manning to play or work in [the] NFL again.”
While the allegations are indeed troubling, how can anyone properly and adequately investigate two-decades-old claims that never resulted in prosecution and that triggered litigation that was settled years ago? Manning and his accuser, Jamie Naughright, are bound by settlement agreements that, as settlement agreements often do, compel confidentiality and secrecy.
Besides, the actions at issue happened before Manning entered the NFL. While behavior predating a player’s NFL career can be used in assessing punishment for misconduct that occurred once in the league, the NFL does not assess discipline based on pre-NFL allegations, even if proven conclusively.
“Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza must show their customers that they will never stand for sexual violence — and suspend their relationships with Manning pending further investigation,” Chaudhary said.
Again, if the allegations are true, they are troubling. But there’s no way Nationwide or Papa John’s or anyone else will be able to determine whether incidents that occurred in 1996 are indeed true.
While it’s highly unlikely that the NFL, Nationwide, Papa John’s, or any other business partners will shy away from Manning in the aftermath of the release of additional allegations from the 1996 interaction with Jamie Naughright, Manning’s second Super Bowl win indirectly has dredged up claims that he had managed to largely dodge through most of his NFL career. As his career now likely ends, Manning walks off not into the sunset but in a vague haze that may become a permanent part of his legacy.