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Peyton Manning feared Patriots bugging visitors’ locker room

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2012, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, speak in the middle of the field after the Patriots beat the Broncos 31-21 in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass. Manning and Brady will square off for the 14th time Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, when the Broncos travel to New England. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)


Since the Spygate story broke in 2007, there’s been a widespread perception around the NFL that the Patriots cheat. But in the years between Spygate and Deflategate, those accusations amounted to little more than rumor and innuendo.

Still, the rumors and innuendo affected the way NFL teams prepared to play against the Patriots. And the player who has been the Patriots’ biggest rival, Peyton Manning, took specific steps to combat the possibility that the Patriots were cheating.

That’s the word from former Colts coach Tony Dungy, who said on the Dan Patrick Show that when the Colts were playing in New England, Manning would leave the visitors’ locker room and go into an adjacent hallway when he wanted to discuss specific plays the Colts were going to run because Manning feared the locker room was bugged. Dungy said he doesn’t know if the Patriots’ locker room really was bugged, but he did confirm that a 2010 Peter King report about Manning’s concerns was accurate.

“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. We didn’t have a lot of strategy discussions inside the locker room there,” Dungy said.

Dungy stressed that he doesn’t know that the Patriots were cheating, but that Manning didn’t want to take any chances.

“Peyton takes everything to the nth degree,” Dungy said.

And, if the rumor and innuendo are to be believed, so do the Patriots.