At his retirement news conference on Monday, quarterback Peyton Manning publicly denied -- for the first time -- a recently resurfaced sexual assault allegation stemming from his time at the University of Tennessee.
"This is a joyous day, and nothing can take away from this day," Manning said in response to a question from a reporter, "I think it is sad that some people don't understand the truth and the facts. And 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. Like Forrest Gump said, 'That's all I have to say about that.'"
"I think it is sad that some people don't understand the truth and the facts. And 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. Like Forrest Gump said, 'That's all I have to say about that.'"Peyton Manning
Manning was among the athletes named in a lawsuit filed Feb. 9, 2016, against the University of Tennessee. In the suit, six unnamed women allege that the school has violated Title IX regulations and created a "hostile sexual environment" through a policy of indifference toward assaults by student-athletes. Tennessee later filed a motion to strike the reference to Manning "because of the utter lack of relevance" to the suit.
The plaintiffs filed a response Monday and said the reference shouldn't be removed because it's "entirely relevant" to show the existence of a "hostile and discriminatory sexual environment."
Manning was mentioned in the Title IX lawsuit stemming from a Feb. 29, 1996, incident in which Tennessee athletic trainer Dr. Jamie Naughright (then Jamie Whited) alleged that Manning, then a sophomore, placed his naked genitals on her face while she was examining him for a foot injury. Less than three hours after the incident, she reported it to the university and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center as a sexual assault, but she did not name Manning in her phone call and didn't want to discuss details of what allegedly happened.
Manning denied making contact with Naughright and said he was "mooning" cross-country athlete Malcolm Saxon, who was also in the training room. Manning was never the subject of a police investigation related to the incident. The official university investigation in 1997 termed the incident "horseplay that cannot be prevented" after interviewing Naughright, Manning and Saxon.
Naughright later sued the quarterback, and in documents filed on her behalf in the case, Saxon contradicted Manning's version of events. The lawsuit was settled for $300,000 in 1997, with the agreement that Naughright leave the university.
In 2000, Archie Manning, along with Peyton Manning, published an autobiography, "Manning: A Father, His Sons and a Football Legacy." In the book, Peyton claims Naughright had a "vulgar" mouth and describes her and his interactions with her at Tennessee in an unflattering light.
In 2003, Naughright again sued Peyton Manning, along with Archie Manning, ghostwriter John Underwood and HarperCollins Publishers Inc., for defamation.
During his deposition, Manning testified that he didn't realize Naughright had seen his exposed posterior, that Naughright didn't seem offended and that he was unaware she was upset until her boss told him that night. He was presented with an affidavit from Saxon that greatly differed from his version of events. Manning denied Saxon's version (that Manning dropped his pants for five to 10 seconds and directed his actions at Naughright, not Saxon, who said he was at a table in front of Manning, which would it impossible for Manning to moon him).
Saxon also mailed a letter to Manning in 2002. Manning said he never saw the letter, but it was entered into evidence in the case.
Archie Manning said in December 2003 that the case was resolved. No details of any settlement were made public.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.