There probably weren't many people who had the New England Patriots being one of the main characters of the first quarter in ESPN2's broadcast of Monday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, but that is exactly what happened.
The alternate broadcast features Peyton and Eli Manning having conversations about the game, and the former—perhaps lightheartedly—suggested the Patriots may have bugged the locker room during his playing career:
While Manning appeared to be having some fun with the segment, the saying goes truth is said in jest.
After all, this is not the first time Manning and the idea of the Patriots bugging locker rooms have been connected. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted in 2015 that former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and said the Hall of Fame quarterback wouldn't discuss certain plays inside the locker room.
"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. "We didn't have a lot of strategy discussions inside the locker room there."
It should be noted that Manning was famously meticulous about his preparation and surely didn't want to leave anything to chance.
Even Dungy admitted, "Peyton takes everything to the nth degree."
Manning served as a primary rival to Tom Brady's Patriots for years as they battled for AFC crowns and Super Bowl appearances. They are two of the greatest quarterbacks in history, and those games seemingly always carried plenty of weight in the standings.
Cheating allegations are nothing new for those Patriots either, though, as stories such as Spygate and Deflategate caused a stir even while they were racking up Lombardi Trophies.
Manning's comments Monday only add another layer, even if he was having some fun with the situation.