Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning dropped a casual allegation of cheating by the New England Patriots during a Monday Night Football broadcast on ESPN2.
The five-time MVP said he believed the Patriots had a microphone in his locker at Gillette Stadium. With suspicions of foul play further heightened by New England’s Spygate scandal in 2007, Manning said he would only talk to teammates in the showers when playing away games in Foxborough.
“Every time I played against New England, I used to go and talk to my receivers like in the shower, in the far corner,” Manning said on the broadcast. “I’m like, ‘Don’t talk about a play next to my locker because I know it’s bugged, I know it’s got a hot mic in there.’ We’re in the shower – very strange to see seven guys hanging out back there in the shower, but take all precautions.”
Manning added another shot against the Patriots earlier in the broadcast when talking to his brother Eli, who twice defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
“I think our conversation was bugged – you know, kind of like the Patriots used to do back in the day,” he said. Eli laughed.
Peyton Manning was 2-11 in his career in games at New England, including 0-2 in the playoffs.
Manning’s concerns about the visitors’ locker room in Foxborough have been reported on before. Peter King wrote about them for Sports Illustrated in 2010 and former Colts coach Tony Dungy confirmed the suspicions in 2015.
“I know that that is very true, and, you know, as Peyton talked to guys who played for the Patriots, some of the guys who came over — whether it’s true or not, he treated it as true,” Dungy said on The Dan Patrick Show. “We didn’t have a lot of strategy discussions inside the locker room there.”
Around the time Dungy’s comments came out, Indianapolis reporter Bob Kravtiz confirmed the team’s suspicions. “I don’t know if the Patriots bug visiting lockerrooms or not,” he tweeted, “but I’ve been told the Colts still sweep for bugs when they go to Gillette.”