The New England Patriots are cheaters.
This much is not up for debate.
Some potential cheating still goes on to this day. There’s the thought that the Patriots are skirting the league’s salary cap with Tom Brady’s below-market contract.
Given their history, it’s impossible to completely rule out more cheating that hasn’t come to light.
It wouldn’t necessarily be the first time they did it on the biggest stage.
A number of Eagles players and coaches felt like the Patriots cheated against them in Super Bowl XXXIX. Former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo discussed that topic on 97.5 earlier this week.
”I remember through the course of the game Jim [Johnson] saying, ‘They’re getting our signals. They know when we’re blitzing … try to hide it,’” Spagnuolo said. “I remember distinctly thinking, ‘I don’t think so Jim, just concentrate on calling the game.’”
But now Spagnuolo thinks Johnson was correct.
“When you go back and look at that tape, it was evident to us. … We believe that Tom (Brady) knew when we were pressuring him because he certainly got the ball out pretty quick,” Spagnuolo said.
What Spagnuolo learned from that was to employ two defensive signal-callers to catch the Patriots off guard. And it worked in Super Bowl XLII, when Spagnuolo was the Giants defensive coordinator and New York beat the Patriots, 17-14.
“But, you know, you gotta play the game, and they won that particular day,” Spagnuolo said of Super Bowl XXXIX. “But there’s no question — I wasn’t going to let that happen in the 2008 Super Bowl (with the Giants) after the 2007 season. We made sure we had two signal callers, and we were protecting against that.”
Leading up to this week’s Super Bowl between the Eagles and Patriots, a number of Eagles fans have reached out to me to ask what the team is doing to prepare against potential cheating from the Patriots.
With that thought in mind, I asked some Eagles players (and Doug Pederson) about the possibility of the Patriots cheating on Sunday.
Some players were dismissive of the idea, but some didn’t totally downplay it. See for yourselves.
BLG: The Patriots have been punished for cheating. There’s been suspensions, DeflateGate, all that. Is there any concern that they would cheat in this game? Is that a thought that even crosses your mind?
Kendricks: I mean, if they did, we don’t really care. Like, I mean, it’s not going to …
BLG: It’s not a thought that crosses the mind at all, because of the history and everything?
Kendricks: So, we already know that they do, right? [gestures] Well, we already know that they’ve done it, previous times, prior. So it wouldn’t come as a surprise, so it’s not anything that we should even be worried about. You can’t stop people doing from what they’re going to do. You know what I mean? If they’re going to do it. I’m not saying that they are sign to do it, or that they’re doing it. But, it’s something that you don’t want to lose sleep over. Because you can’t control it. That’s really not what we’re thinking of. We’re thinking about winning the game.
BLG: So with the Patriots having this record of being caught for cheating and everything …
Torrey Smith: [laughs] Damn, man!
BLG: It’s happened, man! There were suspensions …
Steve Smith: [trying to interject to start an NFL Network interview] You ready, you want to hit this one?
Torrey Smith: Listen to my guy, bro. [pointing to me]
BLG: I’ve got to ask. Is that even a thought that crosses your mind?
Steve Smith: What?
BLG: The fact that the Patriots have cheated before.
Steve Smith: [ignoring me] You ready for this (interview)?
Torrey Smith: Nah, I’m good to go. I have a lot of respect for them. They’ve been caught, but that has nothing to do with what they do in those 60 minutes. They’re a great time at all times. I expect them to be honest and go out there and do their thing like they always do.
BLG: So it’s not a thought on your mind?
Torrey Smith: No.
BLG: The Patriots have gotten caught cheating before. There’s been suspensions —
Johnson: Same thing (here). [referring to being suspended for PEDs]
BLG: Alright, well … [laughs]
Johnson: I knew where you were going. [smiles]
BLG: But no, I wasn’t going there. I was saying, is there any concern because that’s happened in the past, that they could do that in this game? Is that even a thought that would cross your mind?
Johnson: We just don’t have any documents. Everything will be electronic. Let’s put it that way.
Johnson: So nothing can be left behind.
BLG: The Patriots have been caught cheating before.
BLG: It happened.
BLG: So is that even a thought in your mind in this game that they could be cheating?
Darby: I mean, hey, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying, I guess.
Darby: I just know we’re going to prepare the way we do. And we’re going to go out there and just handle business.
BLG: So you’re not worried about it?
Darby: Nah. Can’t be worried about nobody cheating.
BLG: The Patriots have been disciplined multiple times for for cheating. There was DeflateGate, there was SpyGate. Back in 2004 — there was just an interview today on Philadelphia radio about Steve Spagnuolo saying that he felt like the Patriots were stealing Eagles signals. He felt like that was something happening during the game. Is that aspect of the Patriots having this history, is that something you prepare for? Is that something you think about going into this game?
Pederson: [pauses and stares at me] I haven’t thought about it until you just asked me. And I wasn’t here. In 2004?
BLG: Yeah. The Super Bowl year.
Pederson: I was still in Green Bay. So, yeah.
BLG: So it’s not a thought on your mind?
Pederson: [shaking head] No. No. No.
BLG: The Patriots have been disinclined by the NFL for cheating. SpyGate, DeflateGate, all of that. Knowing that they have that history of doing that, is that even a thought that crosses your mind?
Curry: Nah, I don’t even get into that. I don’t even get into all that. They can say what they want, I don’t really get into all of that.
BLG: Just wondering.
Curry: It’s all good.
BLG: With the Patriots having this history of DeflateGate, SpyGate, all that stuff. They were disciplined by the NFL, so that happened. Is that even a concern this week that they could be doing something that isn’t within the rules? Some kind of cheating? Does that even cross your mind because of what’s happened in the past?
Hollins: No, honestly I could care less about the past. It’s not this year. And if they are doing something, they are. And they’re not undefeated in the Super Bowl, so obviously you can beat them if they are [cheating]. I don’t think they are. I just really think it happened, and whatever happened, happened. I don’t really think about it.
BLG: The Patriots have been disciplined before by the NFL for SpyGate, DeflateGate. They’ve been caught cheating before. So going into the Super Bowl, your’e playing them, it’s a big stage, is there any thought that even goes through your mind that they good be doing something that isn’t within the rules of the game? Just based on the history.
Graham: Um, I mean, I know the history. History’s history, but that’s not my mindset to go and think that they’re going to be doing anything that’s outside the rules. I think they’re going to come with a good gameplay, and they’re not going to beat themselves. So that’s one thing I’m focused on, is just not beating myself and doing my job.
BLG: I got another weird question. Is your middle name ‘Lee’?
BLG: Alright, so, my middle name is Lee [shows him my press pass]. So we have the same initials.
Graham: That’s crazy. BLG! [laughs] Hey hey! [gives me a fistbump]