Yep, The Patriots Have Been Cheating Scoundrels For The Last 15 Years

Photo credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you were starting to root for Tom Brady and his cheating cohorts.

Not that this should surprise you, but a massive ESPN Outside The Lines investigation by Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham reveals that, yep, the Patriots are horrible, cheating scoundrels and that Deflategate was just a way for Roger Goodell to get even after his kid-gloves handling of Spygate.

There are too many great excerpts, but here are just a few:

As the Patriots became a dynasty and Belichick became the first coach to win three Super Bowls in four years, an entire system of covert videotaping was developed and a secret library created. “It got out of control,” a former Patriots assistant coach says. Sources with knowledge of the system say an advance scout would attend the games of upcoming Patriots opponents and assemble a spreadsheet of all the signals and corresponding plays. The scout would give it to Adams, who would spend most of the week in his office with the door closed, matching the notes to the tapes filmed from the sideline. Files were created, organized by opponent and by coach. During games, Walsh later told investigators, the Patriots’ videographers were told to look like media members, to tape over their team logos or turn their sweatshirt inside out, to wear credentials that said Patriots TV or Kraft Productions. The videographers also were provided with excuses for what to tell NFL security if asked what they were doing: Tell them you’re filming the quarterbacks. Or the kickers. Or footage for a team show.


A former member of the NFL competition committee says the committee spent much of 2001-06 “discussing ways in which the Patriots cheated,” even if nothing could be proved. It reached a level of paranoia in which conspiracy theories ran wild and nothing — the notion of bugging locker rooms or of Brady having a second frequency in his helmet to help decipher the defense — was out of the realm of possibility. There were regular rumors that the Patriots had taped the Rams’ walk-through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002, one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, a game won by the Patriots 20-17 on a last-second Adam Vinatieri field goal. The rumors and speculation reached a fever pitch in 2006. Before the season, a rule was proposed to allow radio communications to one defensive player on the field, as was already allowed for quarterbacks. If it had passed, defensive signals would have been unnecessary. But it failed. In 2007, the proposal failed once again, this time by two votes, with Belichick voting against it. (The rule change passed in 2008 after Spygate broke, with Belichick voting for it.) The allegations against the Patriots prompted NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson to send a letter to all 32 team owners, general managers and head coaches on Sept. 6, 2006, reminding them that “videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited from the sidelines.”

But the Patriots kept doing it. In November 2006, Green Bay Packers security officials caught Matt Estrella shooting unauthorized footage at Lambeau Field. When asked what he was doing, according to notes from the Senate investigation of Spygate that had not previously been disclosed, Estrella said he was with Kraft Productions and was taping panoramic shots of the stadium. He was removed by Packers security. That same year, according to former Colts GM Bill Polian, who served for years on the competition committee and is now an analyst for ESPN, several teams complained that the Patriots had videotaped signals of their coaches. And so the Patriots — and the rest of the NFL — were warned again, in writing, before the 2007 season, sources say.


Goodell assured Specter that “most teams do not believe there is an advantage” from the taping, a comment contradicted by the outraged public and private remarks of many players and coaches, then and now. “Even if Belichick figured out the signals,” Goodell insisted, “there is not sufficient time to call in the play.”

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.

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.

A lot of this is rehashing much of what had already been reported. But, lots o’ new stuff, too. Great, impressive report from ESPN, which dropped this dandy on the best work day of the year!

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13 Responses

  1. I’m not saying that these statements are 100% false but after getting embarrassed the NFL and its puppet regime of ESPN release this? The league is playing dirty too and trying to stir up Patriot hate and envy. Again, shady things are noted and should not be ignored, but too much emotion is taking over.

    1. So, when do the Patriots have to forfeit that SuperBowl victory to Philadelphia? Until that happens, the NFL is as guilty as the Patriots.

  2. I’m not defending the Patriots, but let’s be honest, what’s happening here is the NFL lost their court case and then leaked it the following Monday morning to regain the upper hand in their PR war against one of their own teams – and more importantly, to shore up support for Goodell among the other 31 owners at a time when they’re openly talking about stripping power from him.

    Tl;dr: Goodell can get fucked by a cactus

      1. Keep telling yourself that. We retain the right to doubt printed words on the internet from a league and a television network that have axes to grind. Chip is a racist too according to these folks.

        1. Here, here. This is old stuff that we have known, it’s just portrayed in a more intense manner to get people angry and emotional. That’ll be what gets the NFL the advantage in the PR propaganda war. Fire Goodell.

      2. Not trying to be rude here, but your a fucking moron if you believe any of this bullshit. This is just a bunch of sore losers looking for an excuse to try and discredit the fact the Patriots dominated over a long period of time. Goodell got his ass handed to him in court, in fact the entire NFL front office did, now they are fighting back by leaking this. This screams of contingency plan to try and save face because Kraft went rogue and told Roger to kiss his ass. ESPN is the NFL’s PR lapdogs, always have been. Not too long ago they had their little concussion movie they worked on and Roger stepped in and said trash it or were taking Monday Night Football off you. Jealousy is really an evil thing

      3. It was released minutes before Goodell went on Mike and Mike to talk about how unwilling he is to give up any of his power. Not all of it came from the league office – I’m sure they’re not fans of the Mike Martz details, for instance – but even if that means the timing is part of ESPN’s agenda to release it just as Goodell is about to be on their programming on a prime time news cycle day, they’re still the NFL’s lapdog and there are many details that could come literally only from the league office, considering they can’t quite come from Arlen Specter’s office. Goodell is full of shit when he says he’s unaware of any of the report and can’t comment on it. ESPN releases nothing about the NFL without the NFL’s consent.

  3. So ESPN gets blasted for not handling the football deflation story correctly and issues an apology at like 4 a.m., then fires back with rehashing something that is now ten years old? Nothing to see here, move along.

  4. Success breeds jealousy that manifests itself in all kinds of bizarre ways. If saying the Patriots cheated is what allows all the other teams in the NFL to sleep at night in the knowledge that their front office isn’t as good, their players aren’t as talented and their coach isn’t as good as Bill Belichick then that’s fine. Real competitors would simply try to up their game. Winners focus on winning; losers focus on winners.

  5. I’m not a Pats’ fan, so let’s get that out of the way, but if you think the Pats are the only team in sports to ever do something like this, you are simply naive. There are teams not just in the NFL but in any level of sport that does this. Not saying it’s right, but why get just on the Pats? Probably because of recent events to them, but nonetheless, they shouldn’t be the only team to be pigeon-holed.

  6. It was 7-7 at halftime so the patriots did not score touchdowns on three of four drives in the second quarter as the article says. Am I reading that wrong?
    Anyway, during the game I kept saying to my cousin that every time we blitzed, they were running out the other side. But I also remember thinking that JJ should deliver his signals in a more covert fashion. He sometimes employeed a guy with a towel to shield his signals but usually didn’t.

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