The New England Patriots are headed from one controversy to the next. New accusations claim that headsets inside the team’s Gillette Stadium have been conveniently and mysteriously malfunctioning for opponents dating back years.
The Patriots kicked off the 2015 NFL season with a 28-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, but the game itself may have been overshadowed by yet another accusation of cheating against the Super Bowl champions. Fresh off their Deflategate controversy, the Patriots now have a new scandal related to headsets.
During the first half, the Steelers’ radio headsets coaches use to communicate with one another went on the fritz.
It’s something that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said happens all too often in Foxboro, the Associated Press noted.
“We were listening to the Patriots radio broadcast for the majority of the first half on our headsets,” Tomlin said, adding that it’s “always the case.”
“Here?” a reporter asked, referring to New England.
“Yes,” Tomlin said.
Though it seems a stretch to infer that the New England Patriots themselves caused the interference — the NFL has control over the radio controls, not the Patriots — it seemed an odd coincidence just after ESPN Outside the Lines shed light on alleged instances of cheating from the Patriots that seem to match Thursday’s mishap.
“At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — ‘small s—’ that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.”
This is not the first time the New England Patriots have been accused of shady dealing with headsets. Back in 2007, Sports Illustrated uncovered other accusations against the Patriots, this time from the Detroit Lions.
“‘At one point we had a good drive going against the Patriots,’ said one Lion who doesn’t want his name involved in this mess, but was willing to talk about it. ‘Mike Martz really had ’em going. They were getting fouled up, lining up wrong, we were moving the ball. Then boom, the headset from the sidelines to the coaches’ booth goes out. Next possession we were moving the ball again and the same thing happened. You know it only takes two or three plays to mess up a drive.’
“Matt Millen, the Lions’ GM, says he was talking to another team’s head coach at the league meetings. He started telling him the story.
“‘Yeah, I know,’ the coach said. ‘Headset went out. It happened to me in Foxboro, too.'”
The Steelers weren’t the only team affected on Thursday night. Per NFL rules, the Patriots had to turn off their headsets while the Pittsburgh ones were malfunctioning.
[Image via Jim Rogash/Getty Images]