Fleischer, of course, is most famous for his role as the Bush Administration's Press Secretary from 2001 to 2003, the man who took charge of press conferences as the government tried to sway public support for the war in Iraq. Since his retirement from politics, Fleischer has run a business called Ari Fleischer Sports Communications, helping athletes, teams and sports organizations deal with crises. Some have already noted Fleischer's helping hand in Manning's denials of the accusations.
Sometimes, Fleischer actually helps his clients quite a bit. Fleischer was hired by the Packers in the summer Brett Favre unretired and the team decided to trade its longtime folk hero. He did a pretty good job, as Favre was portrayed as the bad guy in the split.
Sometimes, he doesn't help that much. For example, Fleischer was hired to help spin the BCS, the much-reviled system of deciding the college football champion. Fleischer did not save the BCS, as it was continued to be hated and was eventually replaced by the College Football Playoff. Fleischer worked for Mark McGwire as he tried to re-enter baseball as a hitting coach a decade after his playing days. It kinda worked, as McGwire has been a hitting coach for five years now and we don't talk about it all the time. But at the time, McGwire's hour-long confession-slash-sit-down with Bob Costas was widely panned, with McGwire seeming ill-prepared and contradicting himself.
Sometimes, he actively hurts. In 2010, Tiger Woods hired Fleischer to help rehabilitate his image after his personal life fell apart. This led to articles specifically about how the disgraced athlete shouldn't have turned to the crisis management specialist. Fleischer and Woods parted ways within 10 days, reportedly because Fleischer's presence raised too many eyebrows.
Fleischer's job is supposed to be clearing other people's names, but his own name carries an air of dishonesty. Regardless of what he does in the sports world, Fleischer's legacy will always be his role in the Bush administration. He was the most prominent mouthpiece of a campaign to launch a war on pretenses that turned out to be false.
His job was to publicly espouse an agenda without worrying about the validity of his claims or the consequences that might come from them. He did it with gusto. Sadly, he did an amazing job, and the world hasn't been the same since.
It's possible that if you're a sports figure and you hire Ari Fleischer, he will come up with a spectacular strategy to help you get out of whatever hole you're in. But it's almost certain that if you're a sports figure and you hire Ari Fleischer, people will talk about the fact that you've hired Ari Fleischer, and remember his history of propagating convenient story lines.
Hiring a lawyer doesn't prove a defendant is guilty, and hiring a huckster PR guy who has helped people hide things doesn't mean an athlete has something to hide. Peyton Manning is no more or less guilty of the non-crime he's accused of now that he's hired Fleischer.
But supposedly, this is about public relations. And I don't know how bringing in somebody whose name leads to increased media coverage and arouses general suspicion could possibly be helpful in terms of public relations.