What does Jameis Winston have in common with college-aged Peyton Manning? Other than being among the best quarterbacks of their time, they've both found themselves in hot water thanks to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Jameis Winston catches a lot of heat for his immaturity, and deservedly so. Even after the controversial rape allegation that cast a cloud over his Heisman-winning season, the Florida State quarterback has continued to make headlines for inglorious purposes, whether it's stealing food from a grocery store or yelling graphic sexual slurs in a public setting.
He's certainly no golden child. Then again, neither was Manning.
Today he's one of the most popular figures in the NFL, and well-known for his sportsmanship and for being an all-around good guy. But according to a new column by Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead, Manning should be counting his blessings that he didn't grow up in the social media era. As the article points out, Manning had a sexual misconduct suit against him that is virtually unknown to the public at large.
In the suit, Manning was accused by a then-University of Tennessee female trainer of dropping his pants during an injury examination, and placing his buttocks and private parts on her face.
That sounds bad on its own, but it gets worse: Another student-athlete observed the incident and, several years later, wrote Manning a letter, urging him to admit what he had done.
The trainer immediately brought her complaint to the university, and she won a settlement from the school before leaving her position.
But the incident resurfaced several years later, when Manning wrote his perspective in his autobiography. He described the trainer as having a "vulgar mouth." The trainer, who was then the program director at Florida Southern College, was demoted and apparently lost her job due to the vulgar accusation.
Manning had settled with her out of court over the incident, but he had to re-settle with her once again after discussing the incident on ESPN , which violated the terms of the agreement.
All in all, it's a story that tarnishes the image Manning has cultivated over a long, successful career, and an incident that he no doubt regrets. If this had become a major national news story while Manning was still in college, it's one that could have altered the course of his career.
TheBigLead argues that Winston and other athletes face extreme scrutiny for their actions -- not unwarranted, particularly in Winston's case, but extreme nonetheless. Social media has become a fishbowl in which famous individuals are routinely poked and prodded, and if Manning was of a different generation, we might all have a different opinion on the man.
Given the deeply negative public opinion focused toward the NFL this week, maybe it's the worst possible time for Manning to have this story resurface.
Then again, with all the other noise in the league, maybe it's the best week.