Court documents show that during Peyton Manning's deposition in a 2003 defamation lawsuit, he was confronted with a sworn statement by a former University of Tennessee athlete that contradicted a crucial part of Manning's testimony.
The affidavit from former Volunteers cross country athlete Malcolm Saxon is a separate document from a letter Saxon sent Manning in 2002, which has been widely circulated over the past week. Manning said in his deposition he had not seen the affidavit before that day and denied Saxon's version of events.
But among more than 1,000 pages of transcripts and documents from the lawsuit, Saxon's affidavit, a sworn legal statement, might be the biggest challenge to Manning's version of events.
In the 2003 lawsuit, former University of Tennessee trainer Jamie Naughright accused Manning of pressing his buttocks and genitals against her face while she examined his ankle. At the time of the incident, she said Manning exposed himself and reported the incident to the university and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center as a sexual assault. She eventually settled with the school for $300,000.
This case, however, wasn't over the incident itself. In 2003, Naughright, who declined numerous requests for comment, charged Manning and his father with defamation after they and ghostwriter John Underwood described their version of events in their 2001 book, "Manning."
Halfway through the second day of his deposition in that case, after hours of often-combative questioning, Manning was asked to describe what happened in the University of Tennessee athletic training room on Feb. 29, 1996.
According to court documents, a statement from Manning repeated a more detailed version of the same story: He had been merely "mooning" Saxon as a prank and didn't realize Naughright had seen his exposed posterior. Manning testified that Naughright (then Jamie Whited) didn't seem offended, and he was unaware that she was upset until her boss told him that night.
Manning was then asked about a letter Saxon had written in 2002 to both the Manning home in Indianapolis and the University of Tennessee. Manning said he was aware that Saxon had sent a letter to his home, and that his wife, Ashley, had received it and forwarded it to his father in New Orleans. Manning testified he had not seen the letter, wasn't aware of its contents and didn't know whether his wife or father had read it.
Naughright's attorney, Robert Puterbaugh, then asked a series of questions based on Saxon's affidavit. Manning denied all of Saxon's charges ("Mr. Metcalf" refers to Manning's attorney, Slade Metcalf):
The official university investigation in 1997 termed the incident as "horseplay that cannot be prevented" after interviewing Naughright, Manning and Saxon. Saxon, in the affidavit in the defamation case, disputed that he was quoted accurately. The University of Tennessee has declined to discuss the investigation since it was completed in 1997 and did not return a phone call from ESPN.
Saxon was not deposed in the lawsuit. Reached earlier this week, he said in a text, "I have said no comment for 20 years. I have moved on." He declined any other comment.