New Witness Gives Another View of 1996 Manning Incident

Greg Johnson played linebacker at the University of Tennessee from 1993-1996. In addition to being roommates with Peyton Manning during his time with the Vols, Johnson says he was in a UT training room with Manning and Jamie Naughright on February 29th, 1996 and saw the incident that led to a sexual harassment lawsuit being brought against the greatest quarterback in Tennessee football history. The MMQB, an NFL blog run by long-time Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King, released a report Wednesday that revealed Johnson’s third-party recollection of what happened that day. Prior to The MMQB’s story, former UT cross country athlete Malcolm Saxon was the only witness of the incident outside of Manning and Naughright.

Johnson told the following account of the events to Robert Klemko by phone:

“I was in the training room fairly often. I don’t know why I was in there that day. …Saxon walks in, and Peyton was the kind of guy who had to be friendly with everyone; he wanted to include everyone, from his teammates to the cross country guy. He says hey to Saxon and pulls down the back of his shorts, and I saw one butt cheek, and then he pulled his pants up. And Jamie said something like, ‘Aw, you’re an ass.’ Then I left. Thought nothing of it.”

What Johnson says occurred lines up with testimony Jamie Naughright gave in an affidavit when the suit was originally filed in 1996. In the document, she says “He pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me.”

In a document from 2003, when Naughright sued Manning a second time for breaching a non-disclosure agreement, her story was different. She accused Manning of putting his “gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles, and the area in between the testicles” directly on her head.

Johnson went on to say in his interview that there was no physical contact between Manning and Naughright, as she alleged in 2003:

“It just didn’t happen. Later someone in the administration asked me what happened. They asked if Peyton mooned somebody. They said you can’t do that with a female trainer present. Next thing I know, Peyton is banned from the chow hall. He took his punishment; as 20-year-olds we understood that you can’t do that. …It just wasn’t a significant moment in my life.”

It appears that Johnson would have been a useful witness for Manning in the 2003 suit, but Johnson was serving a tour of duty with the United States Marines in Iraq at the time.

Malcolm Saxon, who was also in the training room when the alleged incident occurred, has denied to comment since this case was rehashed by Shaun King of the New York Daily News last month. In a letter to Peyton Manning in 2002 and in a signed affidavit in 2003, Saxon said Manning dropped his pants towards Naughright but didn’t indicate that any contact was made.