Release of 13-year-old court document dusts off Peyton Manning incident at Tennessee
In the early days of PFT, an article emerged regarding a defamation lawsuit filed against Peyton and Archie Manning. The litigation, which arose from an allegation that the Mannings defamed a former University of Tennessee trainer in a book they had written (Peyton said that the trainer had a “vulgar mouth”), sparked the publication of an accusation that Manning had placed his “naked butt and rectum” on the face of the trainer while she was examining him in 1996.
The longest-standing members of PFT Planet know that, from time to time over the years, we’ve used the phrase “naked butt and rectum” in reference to the story, which never caught fire in the pre-social media days of the Internet -- even though the USA Today item was titled “Manning’s image could take hit in suit.” That article, which didn’t characterize the incident as a sexual assault, apparently flowed from a 74-page document filed in the defamation lawsuit. USA Today didn’t publish the full document, and it released no details beyond the reference to Manning allegedly placing “his ‘naked butt and rectum’ on [the trainer’s] face.”
Now that Peyton Manning has won his second Super Bowl and potentially will be walking off into the sunset, the same 74-page document has been sent to the New York Daily News.
The ensuing #longread from Shaun King of the Daily News is at times hard to follow, as it attempts to summarize most of the 74 pages in chronological order. Also, King’s article displays a clear anti-Peyton bias, and more than a little melodrama. This #notaslongread item comes from the 74-page document itself, which has been published in full by the Daily News.
Before going any farther, it’s important to understand what the 74-page document is, and what it isn’t. The 74-page document is a piece of advocacy. The 74-page document is something that was written by the lawyers representing Jamie Ann Naughright in her defamation case against the Mannings. The 74-page document is, necessarily, one-sided.
The 74-page document is not objective. The 74-page document is not supposed to be objective. The 74-page document is not a court order or any other decision made by a neutral party. And, ultimately, the 74-page document is incomplete without comparing it to the corresponding “Facts of the Case” document submitted by the defendants in the case.
There’s another very important, and intriguing, way in which the 74-page document is incomplete. While it contains testimony and allegations about the “naked butt and rectum” escapade, Naughright’s lawyers redacted when filing the 74-page document large chunks of information regarding an earlier alleged incident from 1994. At page 10 of the 74-page document, the lawyers for Naughright explain that, because Peyton Manning’s lawyers had asked that “certain exhibits and deposition testimony relating to this 1994 incident be designated as part of the ‘confidential record’ and not publicly be revealed,” the information absent from the public document was filed “under seal,” meaning that only the presiding judge and the judge’s staff could see it.
This means that the information about the 1994 incident was in some way more sensitive than the 1996 “naked butt and rectum” incident, which was detailed in the 74-page document, without redaction. Common sense suggests that this means the other incident possibly was more graphic and/or inflammatory and/or offensive and/or problematic for Peyton than the “naked butt and rectum” incident from two years later.
At page 14 of the 74-page document, Naughright’s lawyers tell the story of the 1996 incident, with excerpts from Naughright’s deposition regarding what allegedly occurred while she was examining Peyton Manning’s lower leg for a stress fracture.
“It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles, and the area in between the testicles,” Naughright said. “And all that was on my face when I pushed him up and off.”
The 74-page document then alleges that Manning worked with another Tennessee trainer, Mike Rollo, to “hatch a story” that Manning was “mooning” another UT athlete. That was the version, according to Naughright’s lawyers, that Peyton Manning and Rollo provided to investigators and the media, and it was the version that appeared in the Mannings’ book.
In the 74-page document, Naughright’s lawyers attempted to expose that the “mooning” explanation was fabricated, describing the incident instead as a “sexual assault,” with Peyton Manning “committing a disgusting act and showing his contempt for someone he did not like.” The effort to debunk the “mooning” contention includes an affidavit from the alleged recipient of the “mooning,” Malcolm Saxon, along with a December 2002 letter from Saxon to Peyton Manning in which Saxon tells Peyton “you messed up” and urging him to “take some personal responsibility” for the situation.
“Coming clean is the right thing to do!!” Saxon writes to Peyton Manning. “You might as well maintain some dignity and admit to what happened.”
The 74-page document also alleges that Peyton Manning later taunted Naughright by reenacting the incident two other times.
“Mr. Manning looked at me. The athlete was behind me. He pulled down his pants and sat on the athlete’s face,” Naughright testified as to the first incident of reenacting/taunting.
“Mr. Manning saw me,” she testified as to the second incident of reenacting/taunting, “walked over to the gentleman, pulled his pants down, and sat in the gentleman’s face while looking at me, pulled his pants back up, looked at me, and headed off to the locker room.”
The 74-page document contains other allegations aimed at showing that Peyton Manning had disdain and dislike for Naughright. The 1996 incident apparently was used against Peyton Manning in the Heisman Trophy campaign, which allegedly left him bitter. (Peyton admitted under oath that he said to Archie, “I’m not going to win the f--king trophy, read the papers, it’s going to [Charles] Woodson.”)
Also, Archie Manning allegedly made comments to the ghost writer of the Mannings’ book regarding Naughright, including an alleged statement from Archie Manning to the ghost writer that Naughright, who is white, “had been out with a lot of black guys.”
Again, the entirety of the 74-page document published by the New York Daily News was prepared by the lawyers for Naughright in connection with an effort to win her lawsuit against Peyton and Archie Manning. It’s not apparent from Shaun King’s article that he sought comment or a response from Peyton or Archie Manning. (PFT has reached out to Peyton’s agent, Tom Condon, for comment.)
It’s unclear how much traction a 13-year-old court filing regarding a 20-year-old incident will achieve, but I’ve already been alerted to the item published little more than four hours ago by at least four different people, and the article seems to be catching fire on Twitter. So there’s a chance that in this first weekend without NFL football since Labor Day, NFL fans will notice this one, even if few take the time to read all 74 pages of the document.