On Peyton Manning and Dumb People Online

SANTA CLARA, CA – FEBRUARY 07: Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos walks through the crowd as the confetti flies after the Broncos win. The Denver Broncos played the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on February 7, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images) AAron Ontiveroz

We have entered into a bizarre world where people choose to believe or disbelieve stories not based on the actual facts involved in a case, but based on whether those stories confirm their already existing world views. 

That’s the only possible reason I can come up with for how a blatantly untrue and factually unsupportable allegation that is 13 years old can suddenly become the most read and discussed story in the world of sports. I have been totally baffled how the media has responded to Saturday’s “report” from the New York Daily News so here is my attempt to succinctly explain why this entire story is total bullshit.  

Duke Lacrosse and the University of Virginia frat rape “chronicled” by Rolling Stone, move over, Peyton Manning has just joined your company as one of the three most absurdly false stories that gained national attention in recent history. 

Here are 11 things that everyone should know about this case. 

1. Shaun King, the New York Daily news “writer,” is either really dumb or willfully negligent.

It’s possible he’s both. 

Having read his column I now understand why the New York Daily News is also going bankrupt. Because his editors are idiots too. This dude was so upset that Cam Newton lost the Super Bowl and acted like a baby in his post-game news conference that he decided he was going to go after Peyton Manning. It’s right there in the opening of his column. That’s the genesis of this story.   

I mean, Manning might actually have a defamation claim against this dude and his paper even though he’s a public figure. There’s a willful indifference to the truth here and King’s also clearly acting with malice. I’d love to see Manning sue the paper and this dude. He won’t do it because it’s not worth his time, but he has a pretty decent claim.

It’s impossible for a story to emerge from a more discredited source. We’re talking about a white dude who claims he’s black, was kicked out of Black Lives Matter for alleged embezzlement of funds, and who made up a high school fight that he claimed was racially motivated when evidence supports he threatened a girl over a broken CD and got his ass kicked by her boyfriend. This dude is Rachel Dolezal without the credibility.  

In all honesty, if you retweeted this dude’s story and work in sports media you should apologize to all your followers. 

But let’s leave behind this idiot and get into the actual facts of the case. 

2. The trainer signed an affidavit that mentioned no physical contact from Peyton Manning in 1996.  

She also didn’t mention any contact in the interview with Tennessee, which was conducted after her sexual harassment claim. Here is a link to that document. And here’s what she said then.  

“She (the trainer) was working on (redacted, but it’s Peyton Manning’s) foot when she heard laughter and looked up to see his exposed rear end. She stated that she then pushed (Peyton Manning) and said, “You’re an ass.”

So this woman is on record under penalty of perjury saying that Manning never touched her back in 1996. Isn’t that kind of an important detail to include in any story about this incident? She suddenly changes her story in 2003 after having made statements that don’t mention him touching her seven years ago. The law generally favors the most contemporary version of events possible since it’s the one least likely to be altered by memory. So it’s important to note that in this trainer’s original statement to the University of Tennessee as part of her sexual harassment investigation she made no mention of Manning touching her.

Who’s more believable, the person telling the same story for twenty years or the person who abruptly changes her story seven years later?

3. Let’s talk the physics of this mooning.

If Manning isn’t facing her and drops his pants, wouldn’t she, since she’s working on his foot, have seen his pants around his ankles? I don’t know about you, but when I drop my pants or shorts they end up around my ankles. She says she noticed his actions because she heard “laughter and looked up to see his exposed rear end” from others in the training room, not because his pants appeared around his ankles. That means Manning didn’t even drop his pants, he just pulled them down. Which is, you know, exactly what you do when you moon someone. You just pull down your pants in the back. 

It also makes it harder to see how Manning’s scrotal region could ever come in contact with her — as she has claimed since 2003 — unless he has superhuman clinching ability, it’s hard to see how Manning could keep his pants from falling down once his pants and underwear passed his ass. (Yes, this is why i went to law school, to analyze the physics of mooning.) 

4. Tons of PC bros have been coming at me screaming: “This is sexual assault” on Twitter. 

First, if this were true, then our jails would be overflowing with millions of sexual assaults having been committed by men and women across our country. 

Second, if so, this is the first ass-first sexual assault in human history.

Third, don’t you think if she believed she’d been assaulted that she would have mentioned it as part of her sexual harassment lawsuit? Or have told authorities? Wouldn’t she get even more money than the $300,000 she actually got if the school’s star quarterback had put his butt and scrotal region on her face? She didn’t say it then because it never happened.    

(At this point I should probably confess that I used to moon people quite a bit from the back of my parent’s Volvo when I was a kid. Should I turn myself into authorities now or just go ahead and register as a sex offender?)

5. The trainer’s claims that Manning made contact with her appear for the first time in a motion to oppose summary judgment that was filed in 2003.

So after seven years of not mentioning any contact at all, this woman suddenly says Manning made contact with her. 

This is where Shaun King is either too dumb to understand what he was reading or willfully negligent. Go read Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on this issue. He decapitated King and held up his head for the masses to see. King is just stunningly dumb.

Importantly: her new allegations — that Manning now made contact with her HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HER LAWSUIT. 

Let me repeat that. No one has pointed out that what happened back in 1996 has no bearing on this case. She’d already been paid for her sexual harassment claims and any tort claim she may have had against Manning had already expired. So there is absolutely no legal reason to include this allegation for the first time in this filing. 

Remember, this trainer sued him for defamation — the passages in his book about her language — and violating a nondisclosure agreement. Neither of these claims are remotely connected to her newfound allegations of butt and scrotal contact. In other words, she put those new allegations in there purposely to embarrass Manning. (And probably so she could leak this to the media in an effort to encourage him to settle since, as we’ve seen, most media and readers are too stupid to understand this is a made up allegation). There was no legal reason for their inclusion. (Interestingly, she may have even opened herself up to a perjury charge in the process. Since this story certainly conflicts with her previous affidavit.)

Again, this claim has no bearing on her lawsuit whatsoever. She wasn’t suing for anything that happened that day back in 1996. She was suing for defamation based on passages in Manning’s book. The only remotely defamatory comment in that book was Manning saying she had a dirty mouth. Manning didn’t name her, describe where she worked now, or even describe her physical appearance. Moreover he said his behavior was inappropriate and crude. 

If you want to criticize Manning for anything, it’s even writing about this issue in his book at all. But I still don’t think he violated the nondisclosure agreement. NDA’s don’t typically prevent you from apologizing for your own behavior. They’re designed to keep you from saying something bad about someone else. And are we even sure Manning signed an NDA as part of the Tennessee sexual harassment settlement? Second, it’s not defamatory if it’s true. Based on her Facebook page, it seems like this trainer might have a pretty dirty mouth. And is saying that someone has a foul mouth really that defamatory? It’s not 1924. Cursing is pretty common.   

If this woman wanted to avoid drawing more attention to her time at Tennessee, filing a lawsuit and attaching your name to this story is a strange way to keep quiet, isn’t it?

It’s almost like she knew that Peyton Manning was rich and famous and saw an opportunity to make some money.

Certainly that’s what the attorneys for Donna Karan, a famous fashion designer who was also sued by this woman, said in their court filings. Go read pages seven and eight of the dismissal of their claims.

And let me ask you a follow-up question. How many famous people have you sued in your life? A random person suing both a star quarterback and a star fashion designer for treating them unfairly seems pretty unlikely, doesn’t it?     

6. You’re victim shaming or victim blaming, scream the PC bros on my Twitter timeline. 

First, there’s no victim here because there was never a crime. This is a plaintiff trying to extort a rich athlete. Second, it’s the job of the court system to catch people who aren’t telling the truth. Some women lie, some men lie. Playing identity politics is so damn lazy it makes me sick. Go read how many women — and men — have written pieces saying she’s to be believed because she’s a woman, and some women aren’t believed when they make allegations against men. What? Are you kidding me? It doesn’t take guts to believe a woman with no supporting evidence asserting completely unsubstantiated and made up claims that contradict her earlier statements. It takes guts to be a woman and point out that this woman isn’t telling the truth.

Yet not one woman in sports media has read the court cases and had the balls to come out in defense of Peyton Manning. Let’s call a spade a spade. They’re choosing to believe her because she’s a woman. That’s it. All advocating for women who don’t tell the truth does is make it tougher for women who are telling the truth to come forward. It’s a losing battle. 

And many men in sports media are doing the same thing. Look at Stephen A. Smith. He came out on this woman’s side despite having no evidence to support her claim because, let’s be honest, this gives him shelter for all the criticism he’s gotten for being anti-woman. We’ve reached a point in time where many people don’t even look at the facts of particular cases. They just use whatever happens as evidence to support their world view.   

And here’s a fun response for y’all. Was Atticus Finch victim shaming or victim blaming in “To Kill a Mockingbird” when he didn’t believe Mayella Ewell’s claim that a black man raped her? Or was he doing his job to uncover the truth? The entire point of the legal system is to pursue truth and justice. That means everyone’s story is subject to being questioned and cross examined regardless of their age, race, sex, life experience, religion, or disability. 

7. But what about Jameis Winston and Bill Cosby?

All week FSU fans have been coming at me about Jameis Winston. Why do you believe Peyton Manning in this case, and you didn’t believe Jameis Winston? Easy, because every case is different. I believe Jameis Winston raped his accuser. I don’t believe Peyton Manning ever touched the woman who is suing him. That’s where the evidence leads me. (It’s also crazy that people are even equating a mooning with a rape. I mean, have people lost all ability to think for themselves?) 

And people have been comparing Peyton Manning to Bill Cosby, because, I guess, their brains have been stolen and they are walking zombies. Based on the evidence, I think Bill Cosby is guilty of rape too.  

(Also, to forestall the inevitable comments that the reason I believe Manning and not Winston is because one guy is white and the other is black. You guys caught me. That’s also why I believe one white woman and don’t believe another white woman. I’ve already publicly stated that I’m a sexist racist gay Muslim black liberal conservative feminist Jew.)  

8. But he ruined her life and settled the case, so he must have done something wrong! 

No, he didn’t. He didn’t even mention her by name in his book. And no one read that damn book. Sports books don’t sell that well unless Michael Lewis writes them. Trust me, I know. There are more people reading this column than have ever read Peyton Manning’s book.  

Plus, she sued him! She’s the one who put her name to this story. Without the lawsuit no one would have ever known it was her or connected her to the book.  

Finally, Manning gave her money to go away. That’s common in cases like this. Manning is a hundred millionaire. He gave her a small sum of money and got a nondisclosure agreement from her and probably hoped he would never hear her name again. I’m sure his lawyers set him down and said, “Let’s go ahead and settle this case just so her made up allegations won’t get out there publicly and people who aren’t smart enough to understand the legal system might actually believe her.” 

So much for that. 

(Famous people, by the way, get sued all the time. When I was practicing law in the Virgin Islands, Bill Gates got sued by a woman who claimed that she was his sex slave, and he kept her locked up in a dungeon. That was a fun response.)

9. But the witness in the training room said Manning was lying. 

So now he’s changing his story too, after seven years? Note that he never said there was any contact. All his letter did was dispute where the mooning was directed. Now there’s suddenly a dispute over who the mooning was directed towards. 


After twenty years we’re debating who Peyton Manning meant to moon when he was 19 years old in college. How long ago did this happen? I was a 16 year old junior in high school then.   

10. But no one covered this story! The media protected Peyton Manning!

Are you kidding me? This was a huge story in 1996 and 1997 when the sexual harassment allegations went public. It was everywhere. But what about the lawsuit? Go read “The Big Lead’s” review of all the articles that were written back in 2003 about this story. This story was well chronicled by contemporary media. 

Moreover, it has been featured on Pro Football Talk, The Big Lead, Deadspin, Barstool Sports, USA Today. It has been everywhere since then. Just because some random loser had to read about it in the Facebook comments doesn’t mean it’s a new story. Hell, this story was much better written by “The Daily Beast” the week of the Super Bowl. 

Put simply, this story was everywhere. 

11. Why won’t Manning comment on it?

Because his lawyers are probably telling him that if he comments on this story he will be sued again for violating his nondisclosure agreement. 

He really can’t win. 

Combatting lies is more difficult than you think in today’s social media era. 

But when you consider all the evidence at hand, there’s only one reasonable conclusion to be drawn: this woman made up the allegation that Manning made contact with her in 2003 in an effort to convince Manning to settle her case and avoid his motion for summary judgment being granted.

Manning paid a woman who didn’t deserve any money a settlement because the embarrassment of these her allegations ever going public and being treated as truth would cost him more than fighting them in court. 

Unfortunately for Peyton Manning, 13 years after he settled this case Shaun King wrote an awful story and hundreds of thousands of social media lemmings marched right behind that fraudulent loser off the side of a mountain and into the rocks below. 

The simple truth is this: If you shared King’s story and believed it you should be ashamed of your own stupidity. Unfortunately in today’s social media era, being dumb is worn as a badge of honor.

Here’s a final irony for you — on Sunday Kobe Bryant played in his final all star game. Kobe was charged with rape and settled with his victim to avoid going to jail. Isn’t it wild that a twenty year old Peyton Manning mooning incident is getting a billion times more media coverage than a retrospective on Kobe’s actual rape case?

Wonder why Shaun King isn’t writing that story.


Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.