Thirteen years ago, USA Today obtained 74 pages of explosive court documents on Peyton Manning, Archie Manning, the University of Tennessee, and Florida Southern College that revealed allegations of a sexual-assault scandal, cover up, and smear campaign of the victim that was so deep, so widespread and so ugly that it would've rocked the American sports world to its core. Three days later, Christine Brennan, longtime sportswriter for USA Today wrote an op-ed about Peyton Manning and the documents entitled, "Do you really know your sports hero?
Twitter didn't come for three more years. The word "viral" was still only being used to describe the spread of infectious diseases. But when the documents were sent to me on Tuesday, two days after the Super Bowl, it was immediately clear to me that had the world actually known what they contained, it's doubtful that Peyton would have ever been the "swell, golly, gee-whiz" pitchman for Nationwide Insurance, DirecTV or Papa John's Pizza.
Certainly, evangelical op-eds calling him "squeaky clean" and positioning Peyton as the arbiter of all things good and decent in the world simply wouldn't be the case. But as his career winds down, we're left to grapple with the reality that there is credible evidence that Peyton and the Manning family knowingly, willingly, wantonly ruined the good name and career of Dr. Jamie Naughright, a respected scholar, speaker, professor, and trainer of some of the best athletes in the world.
On the morning after Super Bowl 50, I posted a picture on my Facebook page of Cam Newton smiling and embracing Peyton Manning after the game and simply asked why that warm photo wasn't being talked about i nstead of Cam being frustrated at the post-game press conference. It has since been shared more than , times and seen by more than 20 million people. It now has nearly 6, comments, but on that morning, just one leaped out at me, which mentioned something to the effect of "Peyton sexually assaulted a girl in college.
Later that day, when I wrote an article on the racial double standards in the media between Peyton Manning and Cam Newton , I decided to mention the sexual assault case, and how the allegations had somehow slid right off of Peyton like virtually every other mistake he has ever made in his career. Sitting in the San Francisco airport, waiting for a flight home, I opened the PDF, began reading, and felt like I had stumbled on to state secrets.
I literally moved to where nobody could see my computer screen. While Peyton Manning is not the president of the United States, in a land where football is king, he is the Captain America of sports and certainly one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He's also a prolific pitchman, the friendly face of several multi-billion dollar corporations. This document says, in essence, that it's all a facade, an act, a well-designed for-profit creation, maintained and manicured at all cost.
For me, it was like reading proof that the first Apollo moon landing was really a fictional tale filmed in a Hollywood studio designed to dupe us all. That flag, planted in the moon, seemingly blowing in the wind, was a ruse after all.
I read every single page in the airport before I boarded my flight. Maybe a good hundred times, I wondered to myself, Why — and how — had all of this been kept secret for so long? Titled "Facts of the Case," and submitted to the court by the plaintiff's lawyers, the document, which warrants many more takes and reflections than what I will offer today, is simultaneously shocking, disgusting, painful, and infuriating.
It offers us the living, breathing human names and faces of the individuals the American sports machine is willing to mow down in the name of profit and fame. Originally from New Jersey, Naughright had made Knoxville her home away from home. Advertisement In , she earned her B. A year later, with a 3. A few years later, with a 3. In fact, Jamie Naughright had been a staple across all sports programs at the University of Tennessee and had more tenure than most of the football staff, including the head coach at the time, Phillip Fulmer.
Jamie Naughright is a respected scholar, speaker, professor, and trainer of some of the best athletes in the world. She was a student trainer for the women's athletic programs and a supervisor for intramural sports on campus. From , she was the student trainer for the men's athletic department. After earning her bachelor's degree and entering grad school, she became the graduate assistant trainer for the men's athletic program for two years.
Gifted and respected throughout the campus, she was hired as the assistant trainer for the entire men's athletic program in , following a year as a full-time intern. In that position she developed widely acclaimed educational and medical programs for students and oversaw the drug testing of all of the male athletes.
She presented academic papers, served as an instructor and lecturer for college courses, and traveled frequently with students and staff to conferences all over the country. She started successful community projects and raised funds for local charities. Advertisement While serving as the Director of Health and Wellness, Naughright also was the head trainer for Tennessee's track and field program, which includes cross country, indoor, and outdoor athletics.
In that position she hired and trained 25 staff members, oversaw all medical care for every track and field athlete, served as the medical director for large events, coordinated annual physicals and supervised weekly drug testing.
So many athletes — which would eventually include medal-winning Olympians — developed such a deep respect for Dr. Naughright that she would be requested to travel with them to international events and world championships. Where you live probably determines how much you know or care about Southeastern Conference football.
But in small- to medium-sized cities across the south — places like Knoxville, Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Gainesville — SEC football is just a little more important than God. The years Naughright was employed as the associate trainer by the men's football program, from , were arguably the three best years in the modern history of the program, as the team won back-to-back SEC championships and the national title.
Jamie Naughright was as an absolute force of nature in the University of Tennessee's sports program. At that time, Naughright's education, training and ascension through the ranks of the University of Tennessee's athletic program should have culminated, after more than 10 years of service to the institution, with her being able to land any job she wanted.
When football teams win SEC championships and national titles, key employees can pretty much dictate where in the sports world they want to work next. Jamie Naughright was a man that likely would've been the case for her as well.
As an undergraduate in , Naughright, who had interned for a year with the women's athletic programs including the world-famous UT women's basketball team , was transferred to the men's programs. According to court documents and affidavits, her boss, associate trainer Mike Rollo, perceived Naughright to be a lesbian. Rollo, who had just left working with a group of young women he also thought to be lesbians, allegedly began calling Naughright "c--t bumper.
For three years, until , when Naughright built up enough courage to complain, she said she was almost exclusively called "c--t bumper," or "bumper" for short, by a variety of staff members in the program see court documents, pages ; all subsequent references are to these. Naughright, who is not a lesbian, said she was told by Rollo that she would just have to get used to hearing such vulgarities. Since she was one of the first women to work in the men's program, the year-old Naughright decided to endure the abuse if it meant she could serve as a pioneer of sorts for women in sports.
After Naughright issued a formal complaint, Rollo and other staff members allegedly were ordered by administrators to cease the practice. While the name "c--t bumper" ceased, Rollo and the staff continued to call her "bumper" and would frequently add other sexual adjectives to it see page 8.
Determined to persevere without jeopardizing her career, Naughright began writing policies for the program prohibiting foul or abusive language. First she instituted the policies for athletic training rooms, then later the male cheerleading program. Eventually she would train a variety of student athletes on the proper and professional use of appropriate language.
In the fall of , Peyton Manning entered the University of Tennessee football program as the already-famous son of legendary college and pro football star Archie Manning. That semester, his first on campus, some type of incident involving Manning and Naughright occurred. By request of the counsel of Peyton Manning, the details of that incident have been sealed and three-and-a-half pages concerning it have been redacted from the permanent record see pages Whatever happened, Naughright claims it colored and informed the professional interactions between Naughright and Manning from that time on and caused Manning to consistently harbor anger toward her.
Yet in spite of the drama, Naughright served as the medical director for the NCAA Track and Field Championships in and was a member of the training staff for the Olympics trials for the Games in Atlanta. To say that her problems with Peyton Manning boiled over in would be understating it.
At 6 feet, 5 inches, his feet dangled off the edge of the table. Manning allegedly then proceeded to scoot down the training table while Naughright examined his foot.
At that point, she said, he forcefully maneuvered his naked testicles and rectum directly on her face with his penis on top of her head.
Shocked, disgusted, and offended, Naughright pushed Manning away, removing her head out from under him see pages Within hours, she reported the incident to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Knoxville see page According to the court records, Manning initially denied the incident ever took place.
It was a calculated risk. He was the star quarterback, a Heisman trophy hopeful, and a likely No. While Naughright was now a respected member of the staff, Manning was the star, the savior of Tennessee football. It was his word against hers. According to Rollo, after mooning the student, Naughright just happened to move her head right into Manning's pelvic region.
Rollo acknowledged under oath that he was the first person to use the word "mooning. And, in fact, he did settle it. In an affidavit, Saxon refuted Manning's story and made it clear that Manning never mooned him. In a letter to Manning, Saxon, who stated that he lost his eligibility as a student-athlete over it, practically begged him to come forward and tell the truth see page Here's an excerpt from the letter: I told Mike Rollo the next day and Coach Fulmer a week or two afterwards.
I had nothing to hide at that point and I have nothing to hide today. I have never been on Jamie's side or on your side contrary to what the athletic department was telling you and telling her. I stuck to the truth and I lost my eligibility for it. My redshirt request sat on Mike Rollo's desk for months as the process was going forward.
I'm not angry about it anymore, just getting a little tired of it!! I still don't know why you dropped your drawers. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe not. But it was definitely inappropriate. Please take some personal responsibility here and own up to what you did. I never understood why you didn't admit to it NFL stars Peyton Manning r. You might as well maintain some dignity and admit to what happened. Your celebrity doesn't mean that you can treat folks this way.
As a general rule, it's not just gross to smash your testicles on a woman's face, it's a crime. I'm embarrassed to even be typing such things, but imagine if a grown man forced his genitals on to the face of your daughter or sister or mother or beloved colleague.
What would you think about that? Would you tell your wife, "Well, that's gross, honey. How was the rest of your day?