Raiders fans have never gotten over the Tuck Rule debacle in New England in the playoffs following the 2001 season. But what they they didn't realize until today was that the Tuck Rule snow job was only the tip of the iceberg. That Spygate had already begun in New England and it was the only reason the Patriots were even in that game in the first place.
An ESPN report which came out today so huge and detailed it could shake the entire NFL landscape. It cites as many as 90 sources which expose Patriots spying going back to the 2000 season, including this part right here, which comes directly from Patriots' counsel.
Inside a room accessible only to Belichick and a few others, they found a library of scouting material containing videotapes of opponents' signals, with detailed notes matching signals to plays for many teams going back seven seasons. Among them were handwritten diagrams of the defensive signals of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the notes used in the January 2002 AFC Championship Game won by the Patriots 24-17. Yet almost as quickly as the tapes and notes were found, they were destroyed, on Goodell's orders: League executives stomped the tapes into pieces and shredded the papers inside a Gillette Stadium conference room.
The AFC Championship game was the game after the Tuck Rule debacle in New England; a game the Patriots 'won' 16-13 in overtime. And you thought the Tuck Rule call was shady.
Even the fact that the spying goes all the way back to 2000 is only one small fraction of the cheating the Patriots have been doing throughout their fraudulent dynasty.
The report also denotes the Patriots were stealing play sheets from opposing teams' locker rooms.
Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team's offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports.
STEALING them... FROM THEIR LOCKER ROOMS... and their friggin' HOTEL ROOMS.
But that's all.
You didn't really think that was all did you?
For years there has been suspicion the Patriots were intentionally jamming radio communication between the coaches and the players. Well, they were definitely doing that too.
At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents' coach-to-quarterback radio line — "small s—-" that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches' box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.
And if you thought this was limited to the big, bad, evil Patriots, think again. After getting caught, Roger Goodell did everything in his power (which is a lot) to cover up just how extensive the cheating was. It's the reason everyone thought Spygate was only limited to a few years and they had 'only' won one Super Bowl thanks to their spying. They also wanted you to think it was only spying; something Patriots fans will be quick to try and convince you everyone in the league is doing.
Goodell convinced those around the league that destroying the tapes and limiting the spectacle of Spygate was good for the league. Just like he has done so many times in the name of "protecting the shield". That is the argument he made when telling Rams coach Mike Martz, who was the Super Bowl victim of the Patriots cheating to get their first trophy.
During a five-minute conversation, Martz recalls that the commissioner sounded panicked about Specter's calls for a wider investigation. Martz also recalls that Goodell asked him to write a statement, saying that he was satisfied with the NFL's Spygate investigation and was certain the Patriots had not cheated and asking everyone to move on — like leaders of the Steelers and Eagles had done.
"He told me, ‘The league doesn't need this. We're asking you to come out with a couple lines exonerating us and saying we did our due diligence,'" says Martz.
Then, of course, as if asking Martz to make a statement like that wasn't bad enough, they changed his words after he made the statement. You know, #Integrity
In this case, Goodell was less about protecting the integrity of the league and more about protecting his friend Robert Kraft who was integral in Goodell becoming commissioner.
If anyone was wondering why the league has been pushing so hard to punish the Patriots for Deflategate, it is, as one NFL owner says, one big "make-up call" for all the years of allowing the Patriots to cheat at every turn.
The fallout from this is yet to be determined. At very least Goodell needs to resign. And if there were ever a time to strip a team of its Super Bowl trophies, this would be it.