Like most things in the media, the perception of spygate got blown way out of proportion. It was cheating, certainly. Did it help? Of course it did, otherwise Belichick wouldn't have been doing it. However, most fans and even analysts kind of got so lost in a game of telephone that they don't even remember what the actual act was, or it's impact. They just hear the word "cheating" and go off on a tangent.
Such is the case with Marshall Faulk, the hall of fame running back for the St. Louis Rams. The same Rams the Patriots defeated in 2001 for their first Lombardi Trophy. It was a victory that spawned a dynasty, and for Faulk, over a decade of bitterness.
CSNNE's Tom E. Curran broached the subject with Faulk, who denied having any hard feelings. But also made it very clear he had hard feelings.
"They misunderstand," Faulk corrected. "Am I over the loss? Yeah, I'm over the loss. But I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That's a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl, that's fine . . . But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them but if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don't burn 'em."
The tapes Faulk alludes to are ones that he suspects were taken by the Patriots of a Rams walkthrough prior to that game. Something that the NFL denies the existence of. Faulk doesn't buy that either, he says that the Rams ran brand new plays that the Patriots were ready for, and doesn't understand how they could be possibly prepared for them.
Obviously running a play for the first time is never a guarantee that it will work, but don't try telling Faulk that.
My take is that Faulk has taken the "spygate" idea and run with it, not really understanding what the Patriots were doing.
Here's Goddell's explanation at the time:
"The actual effectiveness of taping and taking of signals from opponents -- it is something done widely in many sports," he said. "I think it probably had limited, if any effect, on the outcome of games. That doesn't change my perspective on violating rules and the need to be punished."
Also, in a recent book by Gary Myers about coaching, Robert Kraft reveals a conversation he had with Belichick after spygate. He asked him how much it helped the team on a scale of 1 to 10, Belichick said one.
So, Marshall Faulk can keep believing he was "cheated out of a SuperBowl" if he wants, but taping the Rams defensive signals didn't push Vinateiri's game winner through the uprights. And on the flip side, NOT taping those defensive signals didn't keep the ball on David Tyree's helmet or let it slip through Welker's hands.
You commonly hear that "the Patriots haven't won anything since Spygate".
Well, technically they've won more. From 2001-2006 (The pre-Spygate Brady era) the Patriots won 72.9% of their games. They won three SuperBowls and appeared in 4 AFC Championships. From 2007-present (post-spygate Brady era) the Patriots won 79.1% of their games, appearing in 3 AFC Championships and winning two of them.
Either six year span is one nearly every franchise in the league would be envious of. While the Patriots have yet to bring home another trophy, one thing is clear, SpyGate hasn't had that much of an impact on winning and losing. Something that many, including Faulk, have seemed to overlook.