Don Shula stated a couple of years ago that the New England Patriots’ championships should carry asterisks. Unfortunately, many NFL championships would be slapped with asterisks following Coach Shula’s thinking, including his own teams!
Many people forget that in 1969, Shula himself was fined and his Miami Dolphins made to forfeit a first-round draft pick to the Baltimore Colts as a result of a tampering charge. Then you have the infamous 1982 AFC championship game between the Dolphins and the New York Jets when the field was left uncovered for two days while a torrential rainstorm hit Florida, slowing down a very fast Jets team and leading to a 14-0 Dolphins win.
What follows is a list of the various NFL scandals that a lot of people have forgotten about over the years. Most are far worse than “Deflategate”. It’s my opinion that the Patriots are attacked without proof because people hate Belichick and are looking to discredit any success that he has.
1) The Patriots caught the Jets filming in the end zone in Foxboro in 2006. The Jets said that the Pats had given them permission, which they clearly had not because Pats officials asked the cameraman to leave. The league did nothing but to say it was okay and did not confiscate tapes or investigate. The Jets were supposedly filming ‘coaching video’.
2) The Dolphins bought game tapes of the Patriots to study Tom Brady’s audibles before an MNF game in December 2006. Zach Thomas admitted to knowing all Brady’s signals from the tape study. The league ruled that such tape study was okay.
3) Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan admitted in 2002 to hiring lip readers to steal signals. He bragged that his lip readers could get all the signals by the end of the first half and sometimes by the end of the first. He also reportedly videotaped San Diego Chargers practices.
4) The Jets were accused of cheating by calling illegal audibles in a game against the Ravens. Brian Billick said that the illegal audibles by the Jets had resulted in three offside penalties.
5) The Kansas City Chiefs admitted that they had somehow gotten hold of a San Francisco 49ers playbook and memorized it before a game against the Niners. Kansas City knew every play that the 49ers would call before the snap. The Chiefs’ DBs coach at the time was Tony Dungy.
6) The 49ers, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers have all been caught cheating on salary cap limits; all were fined and lost draft picks.
7) Former Dallas Cowboy coaches Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson both admitted to doing ‘similar stunts’ (videotaping) while they were coaching.
8) Former Oakland Raiders player Howie Long said in USA Today that “anybody who thinks the Patriots are the only club spying on other teams is naïve.”
9) Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski admitted that, when he played, his backup QB would spy on the defense and signal Jaws by dropping red flags to indicate blitzes. He also said that he had no problem with Pats taping the Rams before the 2001 Super Bowl.
10) Former Kansas City coach Herm Edwards said, “There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t try to steal signals, [but] I haven’t heard about teams recording footage like the Patriots were”. Said one longtime NFL assistant coach, “But you can bet everybody is trying to steal in some way. In fact, you can go to any NFL game and you’ll find some coach whose sole job is to look for defensive signals”.
11) Consider the case of Mark Schlereth, who spent six seasons as a Denver Broncos offensive lineman, protecting quarterback John Elway en route to two Super Bowl victories. In a 1998 playoff game at Kansas City, Schlereth and his fellow linemen coated their arms and the backs of their jerseys in Vaseline. The Chiefs’ defenders couldn’t grab onto the slimy Broncos and quickly complained to officials. It was quite a scene, Schlereth recalls, as officials used towels on the sidelines to wipe down the oily visitors in a game Denver would ultimately win, 14-10, on its way to a Super Bowl triumph.
“Did I grease up my jersey, and use sticky substances on my gloves? You’re damn right,” Schlereth said recently. “What you call cheating is a fine line. It’s an interesting line. What we did, in the locker room, is called being creative. Certain cheating is snickered at, or applauded.”
The question here is what is worse: What the Patriots were *accused* of doing or what the Broncos admit to doing?
Exactly. So why do the Patriots get destroyed by everybody because they are perceived to be cheaters? I think in the end the NFL needs a bad guy, and that team in the NFL’s mind would be the Patriots.
Remember the White Hats were led by the Colts and Peyton Manning and what better for ratings than the Good Guy against the Bad Guy? Let’s face it: the NFL is a ratings-driven league, and television money is what has made the owners rich men. So my conclusion is that the Patriots are no worse than any other NFL club and others are far worse in my estimation, but the Patriots with Belichick at the helm make the perfect bad guy.