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Peyton Manning jokes — or is he joking? — that the Patriots bugged his locker

Manning has reignited the debate that the New England Patriots have not always played fair.

Is Peyton Manning accusing the New England Patriots of cheating while he was in the NFL?

The Pro Football Hall of Famer alluded to it while calling Monday’s Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers game for an ESPN2 broadcast with brother Eli on “Monday Night Football.”

Eli defeated the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl while quarterbacking the New York Giants, so he brought up the possibility that New England may have done some fishy things to gain an advantage, particularly in the second matchup. At that time, Peyton was still with the Indianapolis Colts.

Peyton Manning (18) and his Denver Broncos hosted the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game on Jan. 24, 2016. The Broncos won and would go on to hoist the Vince Lombardo Trophy after winning the Super Bowl. Joe Amon / Denver Post via Getty Images

“I remember, we played the Patriots in that second Super Bowl in Indianapolis,” Eli said. “They practiced at your facility all week. Were you a little nervous, going back in your facility the next year, that they didn’t have cameras in your quarterback room?”

Peyton ran with the notion, saying it wasn’t just one game he thought the Patriots may have employed some underhanded tactics.

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

“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.’ Very strange to see seven guys hanging out back there in the shower, but I take all precautions.”

The question remains whether Manning, who won one Super Bowl with the Colts and another with the Denver Broncos, was joking.

Manning’s comments are sure to dredge up some serious chatter in football circles because the Patriots have long been accused of cheating, most notably during the 2007 season in the so-called Spygate scandal, in which they videotaped New York Jets coaches during a game.

Tom Brady was also suspended for four games in the 2016 season following allegations he had footballs deflated during the Patriots’ victory over the Colts in the AFC championship game after Peyton Manning had left Indianapolis to play for the Broncos. The Patriots would go on to win the Super Bowl that season.