New witness emerges in 20-year-old Peyton Manning incident


Two days after the 20th anniversary of an incident involving Peyton Manning and former University of Tennessee trainer Jamie Naughright, a new witness has emerged.

Greg Johnson, Peyton Manning’s former roommate at Tennessee and a Volunteers football teammate, tells Robert Klemko of that Johnson witnessed the incident, which Manning consistently has defended as a mooning intended for someone else and which Naughright has described as Manning exposing himself in multiple settings and as a sexual assault in others.

Previously, it was believed that only one other person witnessed whatever happened on February 29, 1996 between Manning and Naughright: Former University of Tennessee distance runner Malcolm Saxon. Johnson has now, after more than two decades, provided his version of the events.

“Saxon walks in, and Peyton was the kind of guy who had to be friendly with everyone; he wanted to include everyone, from his teammates to the cross country guy,” Johnson told Klemko. “He says hey to Saxon and pulls down the back of his shorts, and I saw one butt cheek, and then he pulled his pants up. And Jamie said something like, ‘Aw, you’re an ass.’ Then I left. Thought nothing of it.”

The version doesn’t completely mesh with Manning’s; Peyton has said that the mooning was prompted by some sort of a wisecrack made by Saxon about Manning’s then-girlfriend, now wife. Also, Naughright and Saxon, not Manning, have said that Naughright called Peyton an “ass.”

After more than 20 years, mild variations and omissions aren’t shocking. What is shocking is that it took so long for an eyewitness who lived with Manning to come forward.

Klemko explains that Johnson, who wasn’t involved in the 2002-03 litigation between Naughright and Manning because Johnson was serving overseas in the military, was “put in touch with The MMQB through Manning’s representatives.” That naturally makes it feel less organic and spontaneous than carefully engineered, especially given the legal-and-P.R. machinery that was unleashed by Manning and his representatives in connection with December’s report from Al Jazeera that Manning’s wife received HGH intended for Manning. In that case, the Washington Post uncovered evidence that suggests intimidation of Charlie Sly aimed at discrediting the report. In this case, those inclined to believe the version that was told by Naughright and that was confirmed (albeit incompletely) by Saxon will seize upon the circumstances to justify suspicion of Greg Johnson’s 7,306-day-old version of the events.

The article from Klemko also contains plenty of discrediting of Naughright, via reference to her habit of filing lawsuits (which others have noted since the 1996 incident gained unprecedented notoriety on February 13), her reputation as told by people who knew and worked with her, and a contention that someone claiming to be Naughright had called the home of Archie and Olivia Manning the week before Super Bowl 50, threatening to “release all these documents” in a recorded message that featured “coarse and offensive language, some of it sexual in nature.”

The new report is hardly definitive on what did or didn’t happen in the training room more than two decades ago. Instead, it simply evens the dispute at two people claiming it was a mere mooning intended for Malcolm Saxon and two others claiming it wasn’t. It also dredges up once again a controversy that had re-died a natural death, inviting another round of red state/blue state bickering between those who have starkly different positions about what Manning did or didn’t do that day.

With no truly objective, neutral witness able to provide a clear and detailed version of the events, this one will never be resolved with any sort of clarity. And that’s the only true clarity anyone will ever have on this matter.

24 responses to “New witness emerges in 20-year-old Peyton Manning incident

  1. “Naughright had called the home of Archie and Olivia Manning the week before Super Bowl 50, threatening to “release all these documents””

    Can you say extortion! I would love to see her charged.

  2. What happened to this all being a non-issue?

    Shaun King race baiting…Seems to me like there’s some meat on this bone still.

  3. This occurred over 20 years ago and I believe concluded with the University paying her a settlement. Why is it being dredged up now? It isn’t a Bill Cosby situation, Manning appears to have lived a clean and normal life, why not just leave it alone?

    I’m no Manning apologist, I just don’t see the point of allowing a dumb college-age indiscretion to haunt him forever.

  4. It’s coming up again right now because this appears to be Manning’s belated effort to corroborate his version, presumably in an effort to clear away the could that had been hovering over his ride into the sunset.

  5. This has always been the most likely scenario. Unfortunately for Peyton, the cash that was paid for Naughton to get lost ran out.

  6. I always figured Manning did it, but now that Jamie Naughright has been shown to have filed so many false accusations that authorities in Polk County, FL have told her to stop reporting them, that’s a pretty big clue. Manning picked the epically wrong person to expose a butt check to.

  7. So what happened with the Peyton sexual assault in 2010 in New Orleans during Super Bowl week? That seems to be getting covered up also.

  8. I understand the thought that this new “witness” seems to have been a “carefully engineered” twenty-years-in-the making creation by the Manning PR machine, but why is Saxon not considered a “truly objective, neutral witness?” It seems to me that is exactly what he has been from the start.

  9. I care less about this witness and more about the fact that the “victim” claimed he “exposed” himself the first time. Then 6 years later her story gets dramatically worse to where he “forced his genitals on her face”.

    Thats a pretty big distinction you don’t accidentally forget to mention on the first lawsuit… So I’m sure after speaking with her lawyers, the case is a bigger PR mess for Manning if she says he forcefully put her face on his genitals.

    If you want to be believed, don’t change your story to where it makes it much worse 6 years after the incedent.

    I don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t good either way. That being said, it was 20 years ago and he’s been a great player on and off the field since then. I’m not judging someones character today from something that happened 20 years ago when they were 19.

  10. Nothing but a distraction for everyone so that the REAL issue of Peyton and HGH use stays hidden and out of sight.

  11. Why do these stories always seem to come out of the woodwork whenever a big name player is considering whether or not to return for another year. I’m recalling Brett Favre and his selfie shots a few years back.

  12. beavertonsteve says:
    Mar 2, 2016 5:40 PM
    …”Manning picked the epically wrong person to expose a butt check to.”

    True that!

  13. “What is shocking is that it took so long for an eyewitness who lived with Manning to come forward.”

    To be fair, it was over by the time Johnson returned to US soil, and it has largely been a non-issue for the last 20 years.

    What truly would have been shocking is if he came forward while nothing was going on, which would have made Johnson look like an opportunist. After all, why else would an American Hero re-open a closed can of worms?

    Then 20 years later, something IS going on: the woman finally found a tabloid-scribe looking for his 15 minutes of fame who would write a one-sided article that paints her as nothing more than a sexual assault victim, and how a massive conspiracy had stolen her life and held her down ever since. And for maximum impact, publish it less than a week after the Super Bowl.

    If it were my friend who was being accused all over again, getting beaten up by the media, having this new “social media” thing beating him up even more, and I was a witness, I’d come forward too.

  14. How much did this magical witness cost the mannings over seas huh did he deploy same day . Weres his statement. Name anything . On no ones account does this guys name show up . I know paytons wife got the letter for got to forward it to the land of OZ

  15. So the moral of this story is the media tried their best to smear Peyton Manning but in the end weren’t able to complete the job. Oh they left a mark but weren’t quite able to get the ball into the endzone (Pardon the pun) so their Red-Zone stats take a bit of a hit. Drive-by journalism at it’s best. Now it’s on to the next person they want to try to destroy. Perhaps it’s Peyton again. They can always turn the SUV around and try again.

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