It's been more than 10 years since the Eagles were last in the Super Bowl, and as the team begins its journey to reach another, an ESPN The Magazine and Outside the Lines report is picking apart old wounds.
Much of the report, which is a must-read, details how the Patriots went about stealing signals from opposing teams, the scandal that became known as Spygate. In the report, one source formerly within the Eagles organization said there are still players who believed they were robbed at a fair shot at the title in 2005:
When Spygate broke, some of the Eagles now believed they had an answer for a question that had vexed them since they lost to the Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX: How did New England seem completely prepared for the rarely used dime defense the Eagles deployed in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on three of four drives? The Eagles suspected that either practices were filmed or a playbook was stolen. "To this day, some believe that we were robbed by the Patriots not playing by the rules ... and knowing our game plan," a former Eagles football operations staffer says.
Additionally, the report says a 2008 meeting between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter involved Specter asking point-blank if the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl was compromised:
The senator seethed that Goodell seemed completely uninterested in whether a single game had been compromised. He asked Goodell whether the spying might have tipped the Patriots' Super Bowl win against the senator's favorite team, the Eagles. Goodell said that he had spoken with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and then-head coach Andy Reid and that "both said the outcome of the [February] 2005 Super Bowl was legitimate," an assertion contradicted by the private feelings of many senior members of the team.
It's worth noting that, while the Eagles' brass at the time didn't seem to have an issue with the result of the game, several players did. It's unclear here what "senior members" means - it could be the coaches, players or just Troy the janitor. But clearly not everyone at the NovaCare Complex was (or is) in lockstep on Spygate.
This new report hardly comes as a surprise. The Patriots have been embroiled in scandal for a better part of a decade, all the while receiving inconsistent punishment from the league - the article says many in the league felt the league's handling of the recent Deflategate scandal was a "makeup call" for Spygate.
The Eagles will have a chance to exorcise some of these ghosts this season when they travel to Gillete Stadium to play the Patriots on December 6th.