As Shaun King combed through 74 pages of court documents pertaining to Peyton Manning, the University of Tennessee, and an alleged sexual assault – as well as the alleged cover-up of that alleged sexual assault – he couldn’t believe what he was reading.
“I was shocked, man,” the New York Daily News senior writer said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was weird, it was messy, it was ugly, it was institutional. The 74 pages told the story of this person (Dr. Jamie Naughright) . . . who was fiercely loyal to the university, who had gotten her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate at the University of Tennessee and was actually the highest-ranking woman in the Tennessee men’s athletic program. She basically said that during her entire time at the University of Tennessee – almost from the first few months and for years and years that followed – she was constantly sexually harassed.”
As for Manning specifically, King said he counted “at least 16 different moments” where he came across “some really damning facts” pertaining to No. 18.
“Four different teammates of Peyton Manning openly testified under oath that he lied in his book about an incident that happened,” King said. “One of them was a fullback who testified reluctantly, who was in law school himself and was a staff member. So there’s some really troubling things of people testifying and saying, ‘No, what he said about Dr. Jamie Naughright wasn’t just a misunderstanding; it was a complete misrepresentation.’ Peyton’s primary story was, ‘Hey, all I was doing was being a kid and I mooned this guy, Malcolm Saxon, and she happened to see it.’ Well, Malcolm Saxon, who was an athlete in the program has said repeatedly – over and over and over again – that’s not what happened.’”
Within hours of the incident, King told listeners, Naughright apparently called a sexual assault crisis center.
“No woman who has worked in the men’s athletic program for that number of years is going to call a sexual assault crisis center when a man moons another random player,” King said. “In fact, several staff members who she had a hard time getting along with said they did not believe she would ever make a big deal about another player being mooned. In fact, all of her testimony always said, ‘It was worse than a mooning.’”
If the allegations are true, then Manning has committed sexual assault, which would be a tough pill for the American sports world to swallow.
Would that make Manning’s squeaky-clean persona a fraud?
“I don’t know that his persona is a fraud because I believe it’s possible he has moved on,” King said. “I believe that there are key pieces of his life that are missing. I think what I’m really frustrated about is while he may have moved on, another woman’s life and career have been ruined. And what I’m saying is, had we really known, had people known that there was this culture of sexual harassment (at Tennessee), had people known that in (Manning’s) book that four of his teammates openly say, ‘Peyton, you misrepresented in your book your encounter with her’ – that probably would have been troubling. Now, does that mean that all the good that he ever did means nothing? No. But there’s a key element missing there, and I believe it’s a story that needs to be told – not just for Jamie Naughright, but for the other women there who say they’ve been harassed as well.”
For anyone accusing King of selling allegations as proven facts, King has a message for you: He’s not.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” King said. “What we’re talking about are signed affidavits, testimonies, athletes saying one after another that Peyton deliberately knowingly misrepresented (the incident). What is a fact, other than multiple people saying what they saw and what they experienced?”
But is it possible that this whole thing was just a locker-room prank gone wrong?
“Locker-room pranks do go wrong,” King said. “But when the guy that you say you did the locker-room prank on said you didn’t do that and tells you (to) come clean (and asks) why are you doing this, that’s weird. Why would a guy who has no dog in the fight say this was not a locker-room prank, but was something different than that? Of course locker-room pranks happen, but the guy Peyton said he played it on said it didn’t. That’s weird.”