A prominent women’s rights group has called on companies to end their lucrative deals with Peyton Manning after allegations of sexual assault resurfaced in the press.
The allegations relate to his time at the University of Tennessee when he is accused of placing his genitals on the face of a female trainer. The case was settled out of court, with Manning claiming he was merely “mooning” a team-mate. The claims resurfaced last week in a lawsuit against the university that claims the athletics department condoned a “hostile sexual environment” towards female students.
“When institutions like the University of Tennessee tacitly condone violence against women by ignoring cases of sexual assault by student-athletes, it perpetuates a dangerous culture of violence that ultimately hurts women everywhere,” Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, said in a statement. “Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza must show their customers that they will never stand for sexual violence – and suspend their relationships with Manning pending further investigation.”
Manning makes millions of dollars a year from his endorsements, many of which rely on his affable public persona. He is a lock to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame once he is eligible, and his legacy was boosted earlier this month when he won the second Super Bowl of his career.
“While it is outrageous that the University of Tennessee chose to turn a blind eye to sexual violence by student athletes like Manning, it would be flat out unacceptable for the NFL and major companies like Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza to continue to stand with Manning in light of emerging evidence,” Chaudhary said. “The NFL should thoroughly investigate this incident before allowing Manning to play or work in [the] NFL again.”
The allegations have come under further scrutiny after some critics said the claims were treated more lightly by the media than if Manning had been a black player.
Manning’s career in the NFL may be coming to an end anyway. He will be 40 in March and it is likely he will choose to retire with the Super Bowl victory as his final game.