A 2003 affidavit giving Peyton Manning’s side of the story of an alleged 1996 incident involving a female trainer at the University of Tennessee surfaced this week.
Therein, Manning characterizes the incident as “mooning” a teammate rather than sexually assaulting a trainer. He contends he wore a jockstrap when he dropped his drawers, which would seem to contradict allegations that he draped his testicles over his accuser’s face. He called the incident a “harmless prank” and generally characterizes the event as one designed to provoke laughter and not sexual gratification.
In the affidavit, Manning maintains:
I was sitting on the training table, wearing a T-shirt, a pair of shorts and a jock strap. I was talking to a fellow athlete, Malcolm Saxon, who was sitting a few tables away from me.
[The trainer] came into the room to ask me about my foot. She then asked me to hop off the table so she could examine my foot. I hopped off the table and continued my discussion with Mr. Saxon.
Once off the table, [the trainer] moved behind me so that she could examine my foot. At that point, Mr. 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 his comment, I pulled down my shorts for about one second to expose my buttocks to him, or as is colloquially known, to ‘moon’ him.
I immediately pulled my shorts back up while [the trainer] continued to examine my foot. My shorts were never down farther than exposing my buttocks. I did not pull them down to my ankles.
Manning noted that after a coach instructed him to say sorry, he called the trainer’s house but her husband angrily hung up on him. He subsequently left apologetic voice mails and sent a card. He acknowledges that his coaches made him run at 6 a.m. for two weeks as a disciplinary measure.
The publication of the document by WATE-TV in Knoxville enables Manning to combat the media barrage against him without violating the confidentiality agreement he made with the trainer more than a decade ago. The trainer sued Manning several times and reached a six-figure settlement with the University of Tennessee. The story of 19-year-old Manning’s locker-room immaturity became news once again because of a new Title IX lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee.
Manning, who likely concluded his NFL career with a Super Bowl victory earlier this month, endured several hits to his squeaky-clean image this season. In addition to the recycled story of the University of Tennessee “mooning” incident, Al Jazeera America aired a documentary that linked the quarterback to shipments of human-growth hormone from an Indiana clinic. Manning vehemently denied that charge and Al Jazeera America subsequently announced the shuttering of its cable channel.