Is it possible that the Pats' three Super Bowl opponents kept the score close by stealing New England's defensive playcalls?
It certainly seems reasonable.
"Picking off signals has been done forever," John Madden said. "That's what you do in coaching. You're looking for anything that gives away what the other team is doing."
Howie Long said anybody who thinks the Patriots are the only club spying on opponents is "naive." Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer admitted to using similar ploys during their sideline days.
"Some of the coaches have selective amnesia," Johnson said, "because I know for a fact there were various teams doing this."
Here's a comment from Peyton Manning:
"I constantly think about teams stealing our signals. I know New England films me when we’re up there. I know Mike Shanahan has tried. I tell our backup quarterbacks in the preseason, ‘Don’t signal the receivers...’"
Shanahan, for his part, doesn't dispute the charge.
"Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game," the Broncos coach said. "With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter."
The point here is that the NFL, and in particular Commissioner Roger Goodell, unfairly characterized the Patriots as isolated "cheaters."
Truth be told, the Patriots did no more or less than what most other NFL teams, if not ALL other NFL teams, were doing.
So the question stands: Did the three teams that the Pats defeated in the Super Bowls have a cameraman, or a pair of binoculars, or three spies in nuns' clothing sitting in the stands and radioing the New England signals to their opponents' bench?
Maybe they did, or maybe they didn’t. We'll probably never know for sure, but it’s time that Goodell officially free the Pats from the “cheater” label.
As I've said before, Goodell may well have a personal vendetta against the Pats. He has acted unfairly, and in far too much haste—and it seems to me that a grudge must be involved.
I don't know.
But someday I hope to find out.
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