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Peyton’s Place: “Fuck You” to Working America

Peyton Manning announced his retirement from professional football yesterday. Predictably, there was an outpouring of adulation from the media, players, and fans for Manning as a football player and as an engaged member of the community.

Hmmm.

Manning’s ability as a football player was, first of all, in his genes. His father Archie played quarterback in the NFL for many years. But while Archie was a good player, Peyton made himself great by constant study, seeing the entire environment he was operating in, and knowing his opponents strengths and weaknesses to the nth degree. This is something we can all admire and learn from to use in our own lives.

But Peyton Manning as an engaged member of the community, a valuable part of our national fabric? Please.

Manning owns dozens of Papa John’s restaurants. In the light of a nationwide campaign to force fast food companies to pay a living wage, a campaign supported by the majority of the American people, Papa John’s obnoxiously insists that it is proper for it to pay its workers minimum wage. Keep in mind that a typical fast food worker today is 29 years old with two children.

Peyton Manning made $245 million playing pro football and tens of millions more as the most avid corporate endorser since Michael Jordan. His message to his employees is: “I’m on my way to becoming a billionaire and you should help me get there by working for less than it takes to survive.”

Peyton Manning’s message to the American community of which he is supposedly a part is very simple: “Fuck you.” Manning is a proud and very self-aware member of the one per cent.

If all of us in the 99 per cent were proud and self-aware, the world would be a very different place. For starters, we would be able to force Papa John’s to pay its workers enough to feed their families.

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Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. RRRC is now available for free by emailing Ballinger at: rockrap@aol.com.

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