Earlier, I wrote that the Bayou bounty bonanza (bonanza doesn’t really make a ton of sense, but alliteration is fun) was trumping the NFL story line we’d all thought would hog the sports news cycle for the entire month of March — the status of one Peyton Williams Manning.

But it’s also possible that we wouldn’t have the Manning story without the bounty story.

Dun-dun-dunnnn!

See, Gregg Williams was by all indications the ringleader of the bounty operation. And it appears as though there’s evidence that Williams used similar incentives earlier in his career. When his Redskins played the Colts in 2006, a Washington defender (Phillip Daniels) injured Manning:

Tony Dungy, who was Manning’s coach at the time, believes that particular hit led to the ongoing neck problems that cost No. 18 the entire 2011 season and might lead to the end of his Colts career at some point this week.

Dungy elaborated on the Dan Patrick Show today (via PFT):

“Just listening to their guys talk, it does sound like it,” Dungy said. “When you see Matt Bowen’s comments and 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.”

There’s been talk about Williams being suspended for an unprecedented length of time, and there’s a chance he loses his job in St. Louis. If that transpires, and if those who hire coordinators league-wide begin to wonder if Williams’ tactics led to the demise of legends two legends – Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning — then there’s also a chance Williams gets the blackball treatment and never finds an NFL job again.

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