Peyton Manning made millions of dollars using his aw-shucks personality, but his image as an All-American boy took a hit amid reports he sexually assaulted a respected trainer at the University of Tennessee in 1996. USA Today reported the complaint at the time before a potential scandal faded away.
The Daily News obtained documents from the case and last weekend reported Manning’s effort to cover up the story while smearing the reputation of his accuser and others involved. Manning spent the next two decades building a career as a star football player and respected pitchman.
Mainstream media deserves some blame for not following through on the story at the time. Whether it would have been handled better or worse today is unclear, but social media would have made sure it was handled.
The Court of Public Opinion will determine his fate. Will people condemn him as a fraud who was allowed to skate on a serious allegation because he was a pampered star athlete? Or will they give Manning a pass on a 20-year-old allegation that was made when he was a 20-year-old college student? Expect the latter.