Denver Broncos quarterback and painfully over-the-hill turkey-chucker Peyton Manning is in the news again a week after his team won the Super Bowl, and it’s for all the wrong reasons.
The Daily Beastnoted the week before the Super Bowl that during his collegiate days at the University of Tennessee in 1996, Manning perpetrated a disgusting and humiliating act against a female trainer who was examining him for an injury. That is to say, she was looking after his well-being.
How did Manning treat this person, Jamie Ann Naughright? By dropping his pants and forcing his genitals onto her face. As Naughright noted in a deposition,
“It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up.”
By anyone’s measure, that’s sexual assault. By anyone’s measure, that’s not a mere locker room shenanigan. By anyone’s measure, that’s a deviant act that most college guys — as gross as many of them can be — wouldn’t do.
By anyone’s measure, except FOX Sports’ Clay Travis, who authored this piece of clueless garbage on Saturday, which grossly minimizes and even excuses Manning’s behavior:
“Naughright had her head down, but upon hearing the chuckles and guffaws, she looked up only to find herself face-to-face with Manning’s exposed ass and testicles. It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up.”
So twenty years ago Peyton Manning — as part of a locker room prank — pulled off a mooning and teabagging combo on a trainer. It was juvenile and dumb and the trainer eventually included the allegation as part of a sexual harassment suit she filed against Tennessee. But it speaks to Peyton Manning’s image that this is the absolute worst thing anyone can find that he has done in nearly twenty years in the public eye, a locker room prank gone awry. And that some people in the Internet’s outrage brigade are aghast over this behavior twenty years after the fact. My God, a mooning and a teabagging in a locker room!
Ramming your balls and taint onto someone’s face is not a prank. It’s disgusting. It’s humiliating. It’s sexual assault. The fact that Clay Travis is implying this behavior is something akin to say, hiding a fish in someone’s locker or placing chewing gum on someone’s baseball cap, demonstrates an astonishing callousness about what happened to Naughright. Indeed, she was subsequently the target of a vicious and unsubstantiated smear campaign by Peyton and his father Archie Manning, who called her “vulgar,” “trashy,” and claimed she liked to have sex with large numbers of black men.
So Travis thinks that when a man forces his junk onto a woman’s face, that’s no big deal. It’s no surprise then that he is seemingly impressed “that this is the absolute worst thing anyone can find that he has done in nearly twenty years.”
There’s a less offensive way to explain Manning’s behavior back then — not convincingly mind you — by first conceding the gravity of the act, then going on to say something about how Manning was a dumb, gross, immature 20-year-old at the time who still should’ve known better but didn’t, and who has since moved on to become a better person, so far as we can tell.
But that’s not the approach taken by Travis, who instead chose to declare that forcing one’s genitals onto an unsuspecting and unwilling person was, and still is, a mere “prank” that is “inappropriate,” like picking your nose in public or talking in a movie theater.
On his Twitter profile, Clay Travis notes that he’s a “dad of three boys,” and I can only hope that if he had a daughter he’d have a completely different take. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t even have to come to that.