The Hit that Started it All

In 2006, the Indianapolis Colts were playing host to the Washington Redskins.  I personally was in attendance.  Midway through the second quarter, Peyton Manning took the worst hit I have ever seen him take (which is basically every hit he has taken in the NFL).  Though he was down for only a few seconds, it seemed like hours.  You could feel the entire RCA Dome holding their breath. 

After a timeout to shake off the cobwebs, Manning quickly returned to his normal form.  He threw 3 touchdowns following that and the Colts won.  But that hit started an injury that would culminate in Manning sitting out the entire 2011 season and his imminent departure from Indianapolis.

Last fall, former Colts coach Tony Dungy acknowledged it:

“Earlier in the game, I’m outraged that there was a flag for roughing-the-passer on Dwight Freeney for just grazing the quarterback’s helmet. So I’m yelling at the ref [Scott Green], ‘Where’s the flag! Where’s the flag!’ And I don’t yell much, but I did then. So I didn’t notice Peyton calling timeout and being shaken up. Peyton came to the sideline and said to [backup] Jim Sorgi, ‘Jim, start warming up.’ As the timeout went on, he said to us, ‘I can stay in, but we need to run the ball here.’ ”

“Then we sort of forgot about it at halftime, and Peyton seemed fine. He lit it up in the second half. He was on fire [throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns]. But that’s the year we started cutting back on his throws at practice. I’m not putting two plus two together. I just figure he’s getting older and he needs some time off, he’s made enough throws. But now, as I look back on it, there’s no doubt in my mind that this was the start of his neck problems.”

The Redskins’ defensive coordinator at the time was Gregg Williams.  Today it was learned that the Saints, under Williams, had a bounty system going on, basically paying players for injuring their opponents.  The Saints employed the strategy in their super bowl winning 2009 playoffs, where they hit Kurt Warner and Brett Favre repeatedly, and tried to do the same to Peyton. 

It is very likely that Williams used a similar system while with Washington.  And so it is also likely that they had a bounty on Peyton Manning for the game in 2006.  [Other teams probably had bounties on Peyton Manning as well.  Dungy says the Titans did.]

Because of Gregg Williams’ cheating, Colts fans may have lost a few years of Peyton Manning.  We will never know for sure what would have happened, but it seems very possible. 

Below is a video of the hit, courtesy of Nate Dunlevy:


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3 Responses to The Hit that Started it All

  1. realist says:

    This is malarkey. Yes, Gregg Williams seems to have done his stupid bounty program everywhere he went. It even seems likely that Peyton had a bounty on him in this game. But attempting to injure someone would probably mean diving at their knees, leading with the crown of the helmet or just hitting late and none of that happened on this play.

    To imply that the two Redskins planned this very painful scene is ridiculous. Both players planned to beat their blockers then one goes high pushing him backward while the other goes low pushing him forward? Give me a break. This hit is what happens when you put twenty-two athletes on the field and tell them to hit each other.

    That hit was legal. Yes, it was ugly and yes, it would be a real shame if that hit caused his neck injury. But it was legal. No player grabbed Peyton’s facemask or hit his helmet. Neither player led with his helmet. No player dove at Peyton’s knees. Neither Redskin hit late. Two defenders simply met at the quarterback. The fact that Peyton was bent backwards in what was clearly a very painful manner is a coincidence.

    • Yes, the hit was legal then. But now it likely would not be. I am not saying the hit was illegal, but there was likely a bounty on Peyton Manning during that game and so the players were probably trying to hit Peyton. I am just drawing a connection between “bountygate” and Peyton Manning.

  2. 18chronicles says:

    That just makes me soooo mad!!!

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