Cleft palate Manning retires, but ’95 scandal refuses to.

This website— that serves as the home for blogs like this one—has a “Heroes, Villains, and Fools” theme. Part of the message of the site (and especially some of the pieces on the Paintings tab) is that total, unblemished heroes are a rarity.
This week’s news that Peyton Manning is ending his oft-heroic career in football reminds of this. The timing of his exit is curious since sportswriters have begun to re-examine a scandal that most had thought was put to rest long ago.
Humans being human, people often can’t handle near-perfection in public figures.
Cleft palate P Manning (l) sitting on steps with family or origin, incl QB dad (ctr) & QB bro (r).

Manning (l) with QB dad (ctr) & QB bro (r).

Manning retires.

Baker of the Wall Street Journal notes that Manning is retiring a champion and addresses what he might do for an encore:

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is calling it quits after an 18-year career in the NFL that made him one of history’s greatest passers. He departs with two Super Bowl rings and the all-time league records for passing yardage and touchdown throws. His revival with the Denver Broncos was a remarkable second act that was better than the first, though his career with the Indianapolis Colts was already enough to ensure enshrinement in football’s Hall of Fame. But what will the five-time NFL MVP do next? Our columnist Jason Gay considers several options. A career in broadcasting may be the obvious choice, but a shift to team ownership also has its appeal. Then again, it isn’t too late for him to consider jumping into the presidential race.”

For Manning’s career in pictures, go here. See Peyton Manning’s career in photos.=

The scandal that won’t retire.

Without passing judgment on the facts, such as they are, of Manning’s admittedly sophomoric (and moronic?) “mooning” of his trainer, I include a recent article about the incident.

      WARNING: Some may find the details provided in the story below offensive or graphic.

“NEW YORK — A bombshell new report went viral Saturday after it uncovered disturbing allegations against Peyton Manning.

Journalist Shaun King of the New York Daily News penned an article detailing sexual assault allegations — as well as an alleged cover-up —  against Manning that began when the two-time Super Bowl champion was at the University of Tennessee.

King shared his story around 7 a.m. and it has since received more than 6,000 retweets and was picked up by several media outlets and prominent NFL writers.

In his piece King wrote that his research began after a simple Facebook post. A couple of weeks ago, King shared a picture on his page that showed Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton smiling and embracing Manning after Super Bowl 50, which Manning’s Broncos won 24-10. King wrote that he wondered why people chose to discuss Newton’s postgame interview rather than that scene. That’s when the journalist says someone commented by implying that Manning had been accused of sexual assault.

Wrote King:

I decided, on a whim, to Google “Peyton Manning sexual assault University of Tennessee.” That’s how I discovered the two old USA Today articles about the case. 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.

The “two  old USA Today articles” King referenced were examples he had used earlier in his report to outline how he himself had not uncovered the allegations, but rather that they existed all along, just before social media could have taken hold of them. (He notes that the stories were written before the days of Facebook and Twitter.)

King reported that a source later sent him court documents outlining a case between Manning and Jamie Naughright, a former doctor at the University of Tennessee. It was a case that, as King said, was reported on more than a decade ago, but that later fell out of the public view. It was also brought up again in 2014 by The Big Lead, which compared the Manning allegations to the public’s knowledge of allegations against Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

King, citing court documents, outlined the allegations against Manning, which began in 1996. [WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT]:

On Feb. 29 of that year, Naughright, at that point the university’s director of health and wellness, was in a training room, examining what she thought might be a possible stress fracture in Manning’s foot. 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 14-15). Within hours, she reported the incident to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Knoxville

Manning initially said it never happened, according to the report, which also included details on false stories concocted for the football star, including that he was “mooning” another athlete at the time, and that some even asked the doctor to later blame it on a black athlete at the school. She refused.

As part of a settlement agreement, King wrote, Naughright later left the school.

A few years later Manning and his father Archie wrote a book, “Manning: A Father, His Sons, and a Football Legacy,” in which Naughright was described as “vulgar.” Naughright sued for defamation saying the depiction of her cost her job opportunities. The defamation suit was settled in 2003.

King’s long, expansive report goes on to interject opinion, such as that Manning has duped the American public into thinking he’s a good guy in sports.

King offers his viewpoint toward the end of the article:

The book, which trashes the character of Dr. Jamie Naughright, continues to be sold to this very day, while Peyton Manning continues to benefit from his reputation not only as a superstar quarterback, but also an individual of high moral character. In fact, he has reaped tens of millions of dollars in endorsement deals based on a fraudulent mystique he’s cultivated as a good guy, an upstanding citizen, the ideal professional athlete.

King’s story immediately drew attention on social media, with other reporters chiming in with their thoughts.

Manning’s side of the story.

Here’s Dave Gartland’s summary of Manning’s version of what happened:

In a 2003 affidavit released recently by Tennessee television station WATE, Peyton Manning gives his version of the events that led a former University of Tennessee trainer to accuse him of sexual assault.

The full document can be read here. 

“Manning says Dr. Jamie Naughright was crouched on the ground examining his foot when another athlete, Malcolm Saxon, “made a comment to me intended as a joke regarding my then-girlfriend (now my wife), the substance of which I cannot recall. After hearing this comment, I pulled down my shorts for about one second to expose my buttocks to him, or is as colloquially know, to ‘moon’ him.”

“I immediately pulled my shorts back up while [Naughright] continued to examine my foot,” Manning continues. “My shorts were never down farther than exposing my buttocks. I did not pull them down to my ankles.”

Manning’s account differs from Naughright’s. She alleged that Manning “forcefully maneuvered his naked testicles and rectum directly” onto her face. According to Naughright, Manning “smirked” and “laughed” about it.

Manning says in the affidavit that he initially “did not believe that she saw my mooning of Mr. Saxon.” He also claims that he repeatedly tried to apologize to Naughright after Tennessee’s head football trainer, Mike Rollo, suggested doing so. He ended up sending an apology card to Naughright after she did not return his calls. 

Manning also described the incident in the book he wrote with his father and co-author John Underwood. 


To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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