Allegations place Manning under public scrutiny


Many young players who look up to Peyton Manning may be disappointed if the allegations are true in Title IX lawsuit.

An allegation by a former female athletic trainer, Jamie Naughright, at the University of Tennessee has gained national spotlight over the past several weeks. Naughright accused former Tennessee star quarterback Peyton Manning of sexually assaulting her in 1996. This allegation is involved in a lawsuit against the university which states the school provided an unsafe sexual environment for their students and staff.

“If every allegation is true, then [this will damage his legacy]. However, if some of the facts are over exaggerated and not completely true then I don’t think it will. He also has so many fans and supporters. There will always be people that like him and look up to him,” senior Trent Barbe said.

Peyton Manning later discussed the incident to reporters claiming he was only “mooning” another teammate, not sexually assaulting the trainer. After threats from former boosters and other fans, the trainer decided to part ways from the university. Naughright and the university agreed on a $300,000 settlement.

“I think people will look at him differently. Just because he is a big name athlete does not mean he is above the law. It is disappointing this happened because he was such a glorified athlete,” senior Lindsey Anstine said.

In 2002, Archie Manning, Peyton’s father, wrote a book stating that the trainer had a “vulgar mouth.” This caused a libel lawsuit the same year against Naughright and the Manning’s. To Peyton’s defense, Naughright had not mentioned Peyton making physical contact with her until the 2002 lawsuit. Peyton’s defense attorneys believe that Naughright embellished the story.

“It will be interesting to see if his image is tarnished. I don’t know if this situation influenced his retirement or not but it very well could have. Hopefully the woman in this lawsuit is rewarded some sort of compensation,” sophomore Kate Briscoe said.

Former Tennessee Wide Receiver Drae Bowles defended Naughright about the incident. Because he did not stand up for Manning, this caused fellow teammates at the time to physically and mentally abuse Bowles to the point that he had to transfer to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Tennessee Coach Butch Jones even called Bowles a “traitor” prompting the move.

“My opinion of Peyton Manning won’t change until he is proven guilty of this crime. A lot of times people make false allegations in order to receive money. However, if it is true then I will never consider myself a Peyton Manning fan,” junior Andrew Schmidt said.

The Title IX lawsuit against the university is still under investigation and will take several months before the case concludes.

“I think he will still be a hall of famer. A lot of people will still love Peyton Manning, even if the allegations are true. Sometimes people care way too much about sports and fail to realize the other important stuff in life like integrity,” senior Evan Shukers said.

In tears, Manning officially retired from the NFL Monday, March 7, reiterating his innocence in a press conference.

“I did not do what has been alleged, and I’m not interested in relitigating something that happened when I was 19-years-old,” Manning told a reporter. “This is a joyous day, it’s a special day, and like Forrest Gump said, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.'”