Ex-Trainer Says She Received Death Threats In Connection With Sex Assault Claims She Made Against Peyton Manning
A former athletic trainer is revealing details of what she says happened during an encounter 21 years ago with legendary quarterback Peyton Manning for the first time on television.
Dr. Jamie Naughright was director of health and wellness at the University of Tennessee. Manning, then 19, was the school’s all-American quarterback and destined for NFL stardom.
On February 29, 1996, his injured foot was being examined in the athletic department's training room by Naughright, who holds a doctorate in education.
What she says happened next left her disgusted and frightened.
“I was repulsed. I was scared. I was intimidated,” she told Inside Edition of Manning's alleged actions, which have been the subject of headlines and lawsuits ever since.
“I felt something on my face and Peyton had pulled his shorts down and sat his anus and his testicles on my face," she said. "So I pushed him up and out. He turned around, pulled his shorts back up."
When asked by Inside Edition’s Deborah Norville what she did in response, Naughright recalled, “I called him an ass.”
Manning denies her allegations and has insisted he was involved in a prank, saying that he was "mooning" a friend in the training room.
In a never-before-seen video deposition from 2003 after Naughright sued him for defamation, Manning said: “I briefly pulled down my pants to so-called ‘moon’ him. One second, one-and-a-half seconds. Pulled my pants back up and continued with Jamie examining my foot," he said.
Naughright told Inside Edition that Manning's statement is a "lie."
Naughright's description hardly fits the "aw shucks" image of the retired NFL star.
He walked away from football as one of the most celebrated quarterbacks of all time and has since found a lucrative second career as the star of TV commercials.
He has even been rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Senate in his home state of Tennessee, but he says he's not interested.
Naughright told Inside Edition her encounter with the 6-foot-5-inch, 235-pound Manning all those years ago left her terrified.
Norville inquired as to what expression was on Manning’s face.
“It was anger, it was violence," Naughright says. "It was definitely a predator, intimidating, anger, violent eyes that he had."
She says she ran into her office and later that night filed a report with a sexual assault crisis center, telling the crisis counselor she "feared for her job, worried and feared for her life."
“My boss, when I called him that night, really realized that this was a serious situation," she said. "This was a sexual assault and he informed me not to call the police or press."
She filed an employment discrimination complaint against the University of Tennessee and left the school a year later with a $300,000 settlement.
The incident surfaced again in 2001 when Manning and his father, Archie, co-authored the autobiography Manning in which Peyton called the incident "crude, maybe, but harmless,” adding that Naughright had a "vulgar mouth."
She sued for defamation and reached an undisclosed financial settlement from the university.
“You keep coming after me over and over and you've created a cult of sports fans who hate me from afar," she told Inside Edition. "I've had my credit reported as I’m deceased. I almost lost my Social Security. I've had my house and car insurance canceled. I've had death threats and it sure hasn't helped my social life.”
For Manning, it is the controversy that won't go away. He was still asked about it at the emotional 2016 news conference when he announced his retirement from the NFL.
“I did not do what has been alleged, and I’m not interested in re-litigating something that happened when I was 19 years old," he said at the time. "Kinda like my dad used to say when I was in trouble: ‘I can't say it any plainer than that.'"
In response to Naughright's interview with Inside Edition, Manning's attorney said in a statement: “Peyton Manning has been absolutely clear: Jamie Naughright’s accusations are false," Manning's attorney said in a statement. "When her claims were first investigated 21 years ago, she told a very different story. Her current account was invented several years later in connection with her first of several groundless litigations against Peyton. Most recently, she left Peyton’s mother a vulgar and extremely disturbing voicemail. Ms. Naughright should stop this abusive behavior.”
Norville asked Naughright whether she left voicemail with "coarse language."
“I'm on Ambien, and I had slept wrong, and somehow found that number and anger and Ambien is not a good combination,” Naughright said in response.
Naughright insists that her account of what happened in that training room hasn’t changed in 21 years and that to say otherwise is an effort to discredit and smear her as a victim. She says that after all this time, her story should finally be told.
“The reason why I’m here today is due to the courage and the bravery of the women who have come forward in the Harvey Weinstein [scandal] — the survivor and the victims and that is what has caused me to come here today to discuss this issue,” she said.
To further bolster Manning’s position, Manning's attorney says Dr. Naughright's version is refuted by Greg Johnson, who was Peyton's roommate and teammate at the time of the 1996 incident, but only spoke out in 2016.
Johnson states that he "saw what happened and that Peyton did not do" what Naughright claims. But at least one other athlete who both Manning and Naughright agree was present at the time has said he did not see Greg Johnson in the room.