A retiring Republican senator said Wednesday that if Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Peyton Manning decides to run for his seat, ‘nobody in their right mind would consider running against him.’
Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said Tuesday that he won’t run for a another six years in office when his current term expires. That opens the door for new blood to campaign for the 2018 election.
Corker said it’s ‘possible’ Manning might take up the challenge, according to a report in Politico, although the senator added that ‘I would not be putting in the headlines today that he’s going to be running for the Senate.’
The two men speak regularly and have golfed together with President Donald Trump in the past.
The outgoing GOP senator said he talked with Manning on Wednesday morning.
Senator Peyton Manning? A Tennessee lawmaker who is retiring after the 2018 election says rivals would be crazy to challenge him if he runs
The retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker said the the NFL great ‘is the kind of guy that would be great in public office’
Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion, is used to the media spotlight
‘Peyton Manning is the kind of guy that would be great in public office,’ Corker said.
But ‘if he got a huge rush of public inquiries it would probably push him away.’
Manning, 41, played college football at the University of Tennessee but lives in Indiana, where his pro football career began. He is now in retirement, and a pitch man for Nationwide insurance.
The buzz about the NFL great’s potential candidacy was started by Tennessee Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who told a reporter that Manning could be a candidate.
DesJarlais quickly clarified, however, that Manning would be more likely to run in 2020 – if Tennessee’s other senator, Lamar Alexander, also chose to retire.
Manning, shown in his Denver Broncos uniform, retired from the NFL last year
Manning ‘is a great guy and a popular guy,’ DesJarlais said, adding that the NFL legend ‘may be looking more at’ a Senate campaign to replace Alexander.
He said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a conservative member of the House, could also be in the mix for 2018.
Manning could receive a cold reception in Tennessee from feminist groups, however.
A 2003 lawsuit claimed that he sexually harassed a female physical trainer who was examining his injured foot in 1996 – by pulling down his pants and sitting on her head.
Manning, then 19, was about to enter his junior year of college.
The Manning-for-Senate buzz started Tuesday after Corker (left) announced that he will retire next year, and Rep. Scott DesJarlais suggested Peyton might run for a different seat in 2020
Jamie Ann Naughright made a sex harassment claim against him with the university at the time but never pressed charges.
She was reportedly paid a $300,000 settlement and agreed to leave her job.
Later, in a 2000 book Manning co-authored with his father Archie, he wrote that he had merely been ‘mooning’ someone.
Manning also wrote that Naughright had a ‘vulgar mouth’ and had called young student athletes ‘motherf***ers’ – and claimed having women in a men’s sports locker room was ‘one of the most misbegotten concessions to equal rights ever made.’
Manning could face a tough road from feminist groups if he runs: In a 2003 lawsuit made public last year, University of Tennessee football trainer Jamie Naughright (right) accused Manning, then 19 years old, of sexually assaulting her by rubbing his naked testicles and buttocks on her face
A 2000 book co-written by Manning and his father, Archie Manning (pictured together in 1995), accused Naughright of having a ‘vulgar mouth’ and insisted Peyton was ‘mooning’ someone else at the time
The entire episode was ‘crude, maybe, but harmless,’ he claimed.
Naughright sued for defamation in 2003. The case’s details weren’t known until last year, after Manning had retired from the NFL following his second Super Bowl victory.
According to the university’s report of the 1996 investigation, Naughright had rejected Manning’s advances when the future Hall of Famer dropped trou.
In a transcript of a deposition taken during the defamation case, she recalled: ‘It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up.’
‘To get leverage, I took my head out to push him up and off.’
Naughright accused Manning of dropping his trousers and placing his genitals on her face, unearthed court documents revealed last year
The university reportedly disciplined Manning by taking away his privilege to eat at the athletic facilities dining room, and requiring him to run at 6:00 a.m. for two weeks.
Past scandals aside, Manning could be an attractive candidate in Republican Party circles.
He has contributed to GOP candidates in the past, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush when he ran against President Donald Trump in the presidential primary season.
He also made contributions to Mitt Romney’s ill-fated 2012 campaign. against Barack Obama.