Peyton Manning leaves the stadium after the game with his son Marshall after winning Super Bowl 50. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)
Peyton Manning’s image has long been a matter of public debate and discourse in New England and throughout the country. But now, there’s a claim through an explosive column in the New York Daily News that Manning’s All-American image is one big fraud.
New York Daily News columnist Shaun King made his case Saturday – through a 74-page legal document he received – that there was an extensive smear campaign against former University of Tennessee Director of Health & Wellness Dr. Jamie Naughright and a calculated effort to hide the details of an alleged ugly sexual assault of her by Manning when he was at Tennessee in 1996.
King was initially critical of the media’s coverage of Cam Newton‘s behavior following the Super Bowl loss to Manning’s Broncos in Santa Clara. He wondered why the media was focused on the Newton’s performance in the press conference and not the the hug Newton gave Manning on the field. He even suggested a racial double standard.
But then he said he was emailed the 74-page court document that USA Today acquired in 2003, detailing the Manning-Naughright encounter while Naughright was examining Manning’s foot for an injury.
The following is an except of what King wrote Saturday in the New York Daily News:
Less than 24 hours later, a source who claimed to see my article on the racial double standard, sent me a 74-page court document from Polk County court in Florida. 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 in the country, 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. Maybe B.o.B. was right on this one fact.
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.
To begin with, Dr. Jamie Naughright was not “a girl” sexually assaulted by Peyton Manning; she was an esteemed professional widely admired by students and peers alike at the University of Tennessee, where she was the Director of Health & Wellness for the Men’s Athletic Program. Originally from New Jersey, Naughright had made Knoxville her home away from home.
In 1991, she earned her B.A. from the University of Tennessee in Exercise Physiology with a Minor in Football Coaching (I didn’t even know such a minor existed). A year later, with a 3.7 GPA, she earned her Master’s Degree in Health Education and Promotion. A few years later, with a 3.925 GPA, she earned her doctorate from the University of Tennessee in Health Education and Wellness.
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.
While winning his second Super Bowl ring and enjoying mainstream media glory, this has been a nightmarish two months off the field for Manning. Before Saturday’s revelation by the New York Daily News, there was the story by Al Jazeera America that HGH shipments had been delivered to Manning’s wife Ashley.