The two biggest NFL stories of this week will be the Thursday deadline for the Colts to either cut Peyton Manning or pay him $28 million, and the ongoing investigation into Gregg Williams offering up bounties for his players to knock opponents out of games. Those stories may be converging.
Multiple reports over the last three days have suggested that the chronic neck problems that led Manning to miss the entire 2011 season began with a hit he took in a game against the Redskins when Williams was Washington’s defensive coordinator. And former Colts coach Tony Dungy said today on the Dan Patrick Show that he now suspects Williams may have put a bounty on Manning before that game.
“Just listening to their guys talk, it does sound like it,” Dungy said. “When you see Matt Bowen’s comments and [Philip] Daniels’ comments, that ‘This is what we had done,’ yeah, it makes you think that.”
Dungy said he doesn’t believe the hit from Daniels was intended to cause long-term health problems for Manning, but he does believe the hit was against the rules, and he worries about the combination of a defensive player breaking the rules and a coach encouraging players to knock an opponent out.
“It was a penalty, it should have been a penalty and I said it at the time, but I wouldn’t have said this is something intentional,” Dungy said. “But, again, you can’t read into people’s actions on the field. You never know. That’s where this thing is so dangerous, when you get that being talked about, ‘Oh, yeah, for big hits, or for knocking guys out, or for taking star players out of the game, we would do A, B and C, or get paid.’ That’s what puts the doubt in people’s mind and that’s why it’s so dangerous.”
Dungy will have more to say on this and other topics when he joins Florio on today’s PFT Live.