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Peyton Manning accuses Patriots of cheating during ‘Monday Night Football’

“I think our conversation was bugged, you know, kind of like the Patriots used to do back in the day," Manning said during Monday night's game.

Hall of Famer Peyton Manning speaking during ESPN's alternate telecast of "Monday Night Football."
Hall of Famer Peyton Manning speaking during ESPN's alternate telecast of "Monday Night Football."Read moreESPN

The Patriots weren’t on the field Monday night, but took the biggest hit of the game, courtesy of Peyton Manning.

During the Manning brothers’ alternate telecast of Monday Night Football on ESPN2, Peyton pivoted to the Patriots after pointing out that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers were following the game plan he outlined to Eli late last week.

“I feel like the Packers were listening to … our conversation on Friday about, ‘We got to come out and run the ball,’” Peyton said. “I think our conversation was bugged, you know, kind of like the Patriots used to do back in the day.”

The comment caused Eli to lift back his head in laughter, but Peyton wasn’t finished.

“Every time I played against New England, I used to go and talk to my receivers in the shower in the far corner. 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,’” Peyton added.

ESPN reported that the Patriots took close-up video shots of Manning’s hands during the 2007 season as part of a wider scandal that became known as Spygate, which also reportedly involved stealing team’s play books from locker rooms and disguising employees as NFL workers to record opponent’s walk-throughs prior to games.

Coaching assistants under the direction of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick were ultimately caught videotaping play-calling signals used by the New York Jets from an unauthorized location during a Sept. 9, 2007 game. Belichick and the Patriots were fined, and the team lost its first-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft. After the league’s investigation, Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly ordered the tapes destroyed, saying at the time, “I think it was the right thing to do.”

At least one former Eagles staffer is quoted in the story, telling ESPN he believed Belichick’s willingness to cheat cost the Birds a fair shot at winning the Super Bowl:

When Spygate broke, some of the Eagles now believed they had an answer for a question that had vexed them since they lost to the Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX: How did New England seem completely prepared for the rarely used dime defense the Eagles deployed in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on three of four drives? The Eagles suspected that either practices were filmed or a playbook was stolen. “To this day, some believe that we were robbed by the Patriots not playing by the rules … and knowing our game plan,” a former Eagles football operations staffer says.

Steve Spagnuolo, who was the linebackers coach for the Eagles in 2005 when the team lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, said he believed New England stole signals during the game, but stopped short of accusing the team of illegally filming them.

“The biggest thing we learned was make sure you have two signal callers, not one signal caller, because they may have all your signals,” Spagnuolo said in 2018 during an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic.

“I remember through the course of the game Jim [Johnson] saying, ‘They’re getting our signals. They know when we’re blitzing … try to hide it.’ I remember distinctly thinking. ‘I don’t think so Jim, just concentrate on calling the game,’ " Spagnuolo recalled. “In hindsight, he was right.”

The Manning brothers are doing their alternate Monday Night Football broadcast for 10 games this season, including next week when the Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Quick hits

  1. During the Eagles’ loss to the 49ers on Sunday, Fox mistakenly featured Jalen Hurts graphics showings him in his old No. 2 jersey. Hurts switched to the No. 1 jersey in April (he wore No. 2 while with Alabama, but switched to No. 1 when he transferred to Oklahoma). Credit to Twitter-user Mark Morgan, who noticed the mistake.

  1. Malika Andrews will host a new NBA show on ESPN titled, appropriately, NBA Today. The show will air Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. Eastern starting Oct. 18, and replaces Rachel Nichols and The Jump in the network’s lineup. The show’s panel will consist of analysts Kendrick Perkins, Chiney Ogwumike, and Vince Carter, among others.

  2. As for Nichols, it’s unclear what her next step will be. She reportedly still has a year left on her ESPN contract, but it’s clear the network isn’t going to feature her in this season’s NBA coverage. Nichols has remained silent publicly, but did jump on Twitter last week after the passing of comedian Norm Macdonald to pay her respects.

  1. One of the best Week 2 moments was the Baltimore Ravens paying tribute to the late Michael K. Williams by playing audio of his The Wire character, Omar, whistling “Farmer in the Dell” prior to the start of the game. David Simon, the creator of the acclaimed HBO series set in Baltimore, said he heard it walking to the stadium. “It’s the little things that are gonna get me, I guess,” Simon wrote on Twitter. “But Michael gonna last.”

  1. Giovanni Hamilton, the 13-year-old Eagles super fan who suffers from Schwartz Jampel syndrome, will appear on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown next week ahead of Birds-Cowboys.