Back in 1994 I was talking with a colleague of my husband, a former Brit who taught at a university in Philadelphia and had long before embraced American sports. It was during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and he made what I thought was a very curious statement. In effect, he said that through watching a player like Simpson, and particularly as he went on to a career as an NFL commentator, he felt as if he knew Simpson. Thus when the news hit the papers, he had a very hard time believing that the O.J. Simpson he “knew” could ever do anything like that.
Simpson was acquitted of the murder charge but is now serving a 33 year sentence, without parole, for numerous felonies stemming from a later incident.
And of course all of the information coming out about Peyton Manning is just the latest incident of someone not fitting comfortably anymore into the neat package he’s created, with his singing commercials, his Saturday Night Live appearances, and hanging out with everyone’s friend, Papa John.
But what actually prompted this article is something quite different. In fact, you might say it is almost the antithesis of “knowing” a player through their public persona.