ESPN Analyst Sees Peyton Manning as 'Hallowed White Icon'

The apparent attempt to smear Peyton Manning on his way out the door continued unabated on ESPN’s Around the Horn, Monday afternoon.

Washington Post columnist and frequent Around the Horn guest Kevin Blackistone was asked by host Tony Reali “where he was” with the story regarding Peyton Manning’s alleged sexual assault twenty years ago:

It proves to me how institutions create and protect images. Whether the institution is the University of Tennessee or the fourth estate, which has done a curious job, those of us in the media, of covering this story over the last 20-plus years. And that it has taken a title IX lawsuit filed last Tuesday and a discovery by Sean king to remind everybody about what happened with Peyton manning while he was at the University of Tennessee. And this comes at a time when other athletes in the news, particularly black athletes, have had their past brought up time and time again and never seem to be able to escape it for whatever reasons. But Peyton manning has been successful thus far in escaping this past.

Next up on the parade of silly was the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan:

This thing is disturbing on so many levels. It is not just a student prank we are talking about or juvenile indiscretion. We are talking about a repugnant act in question if indeed it was done as the woman said it was rather than the way Peyton said it was. None of us are naive enough not to understand that of course the university was not going to go too -- or was going to go all the way in protecting the player at that time, nor should we be surprised that now that the black community is all upset because of the juxtaposition of the way we have gone after black athletes as opposed to this hallowed white icon. There are so many unanswered questions.

“The juxtaposition of how we’ve gone after black athletes as opposed to this hallowed white icon?” First of all, Peyton Manning’s iconic status is that of an American icon, not a white icon. Secondly, if we must juxtapose, let us juxtapose properly. Jameis Winston is someone who most people outside of the Shaun King/Rachel Dolezal realm would probably not consider a white icon. Precisely because he’s not white, he’s black.

Yet, you had the entire Tallahassee Police Department engage in one of the most shamelessly irresponsible investigations in recent history when Winston was accused of rape. Not to mention his university showing next to no interest in investigating the case either. Whether Winston was truly guilty or not, was the “system” working for or against him in that case?

What about Cam Newton? Another African-American quarterback, who found himself in the throes of very serious and credible charges that his father accepted cash payment for his son to play at Auburn. Yet, despite not having “hallowed white icon” status, Newton was cleared of the charges and allowed to continue playing football.

The obvious message here: if you’re really, really good at football, you get away with things. Whether you’re white or black.

Blackistone and Ryan know all these things. But both are so invested in the “too big to fail” race-baiting industry that ESPN has become that they have to double-down on the lie in order to avoid professional ridicule. Thus, resulting in the advancement of the easily-disprovable notion that white players are treated differently than black players in college and in the NFL.

I’ll try really hard to remember how much more privileged white players are over black players this year when Greg Hardy is playing football on Sunday and Johnny Manziel is not.

Bruce Bookter
Bruce Bookter is a sports journalist. This is a pen name.