An investigation by Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko published on Wednesday revealed new details about the 1996 locker room incident involving Peyton Manning, which has created a firestorm of controversy for the quarterback.
But the revelations in Klemko’s report serve to help the image of Manning, with one former teammate coming forward to say he witnessed the locker room incident and that the recently revealed sexual assault details aren’t true.
Former Tennessee linebacker Greg Johnson said that he was in the locker room when the incident occurred, but didn’t come forward previously because he had joined the Marine Corps after graduating and was serving overseas when further allegations came to the forefront in 2003.
“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,” Johnson told Klemko of the incident. “And Jamie [Naughright] said something like, ‘Aw, you’re an ass.’ Then I left. Thought nothing of it.”
That description of the event doesn’t match the details in a 2003 lawsuit, which alleges Manning placed his “gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area between the testicles” on Naughright’s face.
“It just didn’t happen,” Johnson told Klemko.
Klemko’s article also recounts a series of harassing voicemails left by a woman identifying herself as Naughright. Vols associate athletic director Carmen Tegano previously told Clay Travis of FOX Sports that he received harassing calls from a woman identifying herself as Naughright, but Klemko’s report says Manning’s parents, sports radio producer Tom Stokes and the sports desk of the Knoxville News Sentinel also received voicemails from the same woman.
The previously settled lawsuit was brought back into the spotlight shortly after Super Bowl 50, when the New York Daily News published a 74-page court document from 2003 that included details of the allegations levied against Manning.