Comparing the Peyton Manning scandal to the Jerry Sandusky scandal and immediate demise of Joe Paterno wouldn’t be fair. It’d probably be more fair to compare the situation to any one of the MLB players who went from Average Joes to Globo Gym gladiators overnight. But I’m not a little league coach, I don’t give out participation trophies and I’m sure as hell not in the business of fairness. It’s much too socialistic for a blue blooded American such as myself. I digress.
Since news of the Manning drama broke this week, there have been so many questions: why is his wife receiving steroids (and why didn’t A-Rod think of that), why was this news broken by Al Jazeera and how hard was Brock Osweiler when he heard this news? Despite ESPN’s best attempts to increase ad revenue, er, I mean publish shitty stories about EVERY.LAST. DETAIL. of this case, we might never know the answers to these questions. One question, however, remains the most important: how will he be remembered?
We didn’t get a teary eye, telenovela-esque apology that we got from A-Roid (burn!) but we did get the emphatic, angry (yet, polite) southern gentlemen denial. Like a Bush brother fired up about Hillary, Peyton showed us what would happen if someone told him that Little Caesars was better than Papa Johns. It was impressive to say the least coming from the man who shares the same DNA as Eli Manning.
But was the most covered public outburst since Drake and Meek Mill’s beef more of a teardrop under Peyton’s eye or PR suicide? There are two routes this shitshow can go:
The Pete Rose/Joe Paterno Route: We all thought it was neck problems and Brock Osweiler that would be the undoing of Peyton’s career. Who thought that his ‘Jerry Sandusky’ would be a steroid scandal coming from a network most well known for airing beheadings? Realistically, short of chicken parm induced heart disease or a case of that Will Smith concussion disease, Peyton isn’t going to physically die. But this scandal could prove a mortal chink in the armor of a beloved QB who apparently had similar habits to his owner in Indianapolis. The Colts and the Broncos will surely put up firewalls to distance themselves from the pariah who is barely one iota better than a domestic violence offender. The Hall of Fame will turn its back on him and his records will always be followed with “but…” Asterisks will adorn his name and advertisers will distance themselves from the not-so-distant relative of the Neanderthal. It would be a sad, sad end for the pizza proprietor who can throw a football.
The Andy Pettite/Rick Petino Route: Of course there are ways to avoid becoming stuck in Hall of Fame purgatory, which is arguably a fate far worse than being a Buick spokesperson. It won’t take the likes of that pseudo-gumshoe host of “Serial” to punch holes in the charges garnered by an outlet that’s only slightly more regarded than “The Onion” by the American public. If there’s one thing that middle America hates more than a rain out at a NASCAR race, it’s people they don’t understand in the Middle East. Simply put, proving his innocence is as easy as beating Eli at anything intellectual.
Case and point: Rick Pitino. Caught with his pants down amid a(nother) stripper/hooker scandal, Coach Rick escaped with nary a herpes sore on his lip when talks of extortion and holes in the hookers story surfaced, ala Duke lacrosse. And of course if Peyton is guilty of taking his wife’s HGH, he can always go on 60 Minutes, offer free slices at participating Papa Johns locations and give an apology the old college try. If he’s half as successful in his apology as he is at peddling cut rate insurance and gets a good spot from the sports gods, fans and media will let it all slide. Andy Petite used more HGH than the cast of American Gladiators combined but a genuine apology with that southern drawl and a little money thrown at a Steinbrenner approved PR firm allowed Petite admission into monument park.
Whether Peyton pulls a Bill Clinton and turns his PR nightmare into new found popularity or goes down in flames remains to be seen. What we do know is that what the Peyton camp does over the next week or two doesn’t just effect my fantasy team next year, but can change the game and the royal family of football forever. Your move Peyton.