The New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick allegedly cheated by videotaping the hand signals of opposing coaches in 40 games from 2000 to 2007, according to a detailed ESPN Outside the Lines expose about the “Spygate” scandal based on information it claims it gleaned from more than 90 NFL sources
Moreover, the disproportionate Deflategate punishment imposed on Pats QB Tom Brady for deflated footballs in the AFC Championship game was supposedly a “makeup call” for letting the Patriots off the hook in Spygate, in part because of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s then-close relationship with Pats owner Robert Kraft.
Last week, a judge tossed out Brady’s four-game suspension, which cleared him to start in Thursday night’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Goodell’s handling of Deflategate turned around owners still simmering over Spygate; some say he is now more secure in his job,” ESPN claims in the article headlined “Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and Patriots apart.”
There has also been much speculation that if Marshawn Lynch has carried the ball into the end zone for the Super Bowl-winning touchdown in the final seconds on February 1, 2015, Deflategate would have amounted to a monetary fine and virtually a nonstory. As it turned out, the Seattle Seahawks inexplicably attempted a pass, which many argue is the worst call in Super Bowl history, resulting in a goal line interception and a Patriots victory.
As far as Spygate is concerned, you may recall that a Patriots staffer was caught taping New York Jets defensive coaches signaling in September 2007 from the sidelines, in violation of league rules. Commissioner Goodell imposed fines of $500,000 and $250,00 on Belichick and the Patriots, respectively, and took away a first-round draft choice from the team. After the investigation, Goodell’s minions reportedly destroyed all the evidence in the Spygate case.
The NFL reportedly was obsessed with the way the Patriots may have gamed the system, according to the comprehensive article scheduled for the September 28 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
“A former member of the NFL competition committee says the committee spent much of 2001-06 ‘discussing ways in which the Patriots cheated,’ even if nothing could be proved … There were regular rumors that the Patriots had taped the Rams’ walk-through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002, one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.”
According to ESPN, the cheating by the Patriots supposedly masterminded by Belichick was systemic, which included videotaping opposing coaches signals in 40 NFL games, and even sneaking into the visitors locker room to swipe play sheets.
“As the Patriots became a dynasty and Belichick became the first coach to win three Super Bowls in four years, an entire system of covert videotaping was developed and a secret library created. ‘It got out of control,’ a former Patriot assistant coach says…
“After the [2007-2008] season, Belichick would acknowledge the Patriots taped a ‘significant number’ of games, and according to documents and sources, they recorded signals in at least 40 games during the Spygate era.)”
The New England Patriots released a lengthy statement this morning that categorically denied the ESPN cheating allegations.
“The New England Patriots have never filmed or recorded another team’s practice or walkthrough. The first time we ever heard of such an accusation came in 2008, the day before Super Bowl XLII, when the Boston Herald reported an allegation from a disgruntled former employee.
“That report created a media firestorm that extended globally and was discussed incessantly for months. It took four months before that newspaper retracted its story and offered the team a front and back page apology for the damage done. Clearly, the damage has been irreparable…”
Assuming the extensive published report by the sports network is accurate, do you agree or disagree with ESPN’s contention that the Spygate and Deflategate cheating allegations against the New England Patriots are intertwined?
[Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images Sport]