Before the 2006 season, teams were allowed to tape the opposing team's signals from an enclosed area. It's all about semantics though, as one would be getting the same signals from the sideline as they would from the team booth. Beginning in the 2006 season, Roger Goodell sent a memo to every team to tell them that taping the opposing team's sideline was now illegal. However, it was still legal to steal signals with one's eyesight and even with polaroid cameras. It's all about semantics when one looks at the ruling. If the NFL didn't want teams to steal signals, they should have said it is illegal to do so.
So it was never the ACT that was illegal, but certain METHODS. That's like saying that starting in 2015, one may rob a store if he or she has black gloves on, but at the start of 2024, one may only rob a store if he or she has their hands taped together. The lawmakers only wanted to make it harder, not prevent it completely.
Before 2006, the New England Patriots won three Super Bowls. None of them should have a cloud hanging over them, or an asterisk next to them. People who claim the Patriots cheated their way to three Lombardi trophies are either mistaken, as they don't know the rules which were in place before 2006, or they are searching for anything to try to diminish what the Patriots accomplished during the Patriot dynasty.
I find it funny that those who are the most upset about Spygate are none other than fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are more upset than fans of other teams because they feel as though the Patriots had an unfair advantage over the Steelers during the "Spygate era." and that the Patriots cost them two Super Bowls. Not only is it logical to think every team was doing "it" since it was not illegal, but there is actually one more interesting bit of information that came out years after the Patriots won their most recent Super Bowl. -----> Bill Cowher said "We did it too." - as in, the Steelers were stealing signals by videotape as well. There was no unfair advantage when the Patriots played and beat the Steelers in the 2001 and 2004 AFC Championship Games. Not only did Cowher say "We did it too," but he also said the Patriots were the team of this past decade, and they earned their Super Bowls fair and square.
If the Patriots had an advantage (they didn't), the stats during the 2001-2006 Spygate era would reflect that. Tom Brady would have been throwing more TD's, at a higher Percent per pass, less INT's, at a lower percent per pass, completing a higher percent of his passes, for more yards, and he would have been being sacked significantly less. The Patriots should have also been scoring more points, and winning a higher percentage of their games.
-----> The 2001 - 2006 "Spygate Era" - Brady averaged 25.02 TD's, a TD% of 4.8, 13.27 INT's, an INT% of 2.54, a 61.9% Completion, 3669 Yards, and he was sacked an average of 30.33 times a season. The Patriots scored an average of 383.5 points a season, 23.96 a game, and won 74.46% of their regular season games.
-----> 2007 and '09 - 2012, post Spygate - Brady has averaged 37.4 TD's, a TD% of 6.48, 9 INT's, an INT% of 1.56, a 65.73% Completion, 4632 Yards, and he was sacked an average of 24.2 times a season. The Patriots scored an average of 520.8 points a season, 32.55 a game, and won 81.25% of their regular season games.
To any rational person, these numbers should tell he or she that the Patriots didn't have an advantage with Spygate. If the numbers don't, then logic should. Stealing signals is not illegal TODAY, and videotaping signals was not illegal from 2001 - 2004 when the Patriots won 3 Super Bowls.
I will say the Patriots broke a rule from the start of 2006 through the first game of 2007, but it was, and still is a rule which is horribly worded. Should they have been punished? Ehh...sure, but only for what they did in 2006 and the first game of 2007.
Written By Brian Murphy on 6/7/2013