Philly writer takes down Spygate, actually makes sense
As the Super Bowl LII hype train continues to roll on, plenty of storylines are emerging for Sunday's game. Between the Patriots looking to expand upon their dynasty and the Eagles fully embracing their underdog status, there's no shortage of topics to talk about.
One such topic, though, is the last time both teams met with the game's ultimate prize on the line, back in Super Bowl XXXIX (before Roger Goodell was even commissioner -- the good ol' days!). That game is frequently cited as an example of the Patriots gaining an unfair advantage during the Spygate scandal, despite allegations mainly being based on hearsay.
Former Eagles players have brought that up with local media over the course of the past week, and Steve Spagnuolo, the team's linebackers coach that season, fanned those flames yet again in an interview with WPEN-FM. Situations like this can get quite easy to snowball, even for something that allegedly occurred 13 years ago.
Fact: The Patriots broke the rules. From a period believed to have started in 2000 – the franchise’s first world-championship season – up to Week 1, 2007, they illegally videotaped opposing coaches from an unapproved location. This footage may have been used to decipher, or steal, defensive signals, or play calls, as they were relayed from the sideline to the field. Obviously, their offense would have an advantage if they knew what was coming. As a result, the club was fined and forced to forfeit a first-round draft pick.
And in the 11 seasons since, the Patriots have been to the Super Bowl five times, won twice, and have failed to advance to at least the conference title game only three times. It’s probably safe to say whatever advantage they gained from taping signals in the past paled in comparison to the caliber of players, coaches and executives they hired.
Even the act of stealing signals is as old as the game itself. The Patriots used a camera. This wasn’t some grand innovation. They just got caught. You could even make the case the Eagles should've done a better job of disgusing (sic) their calls."
Kulp cites the time elapsed and all that has happened since as further proof that it's just something to move on from.
No one here is suggesting you should like these guys. But continuing to whine about stolen signals more than a decade later, long after the Patriots proved they don’t need them, when the Eagles didn’t play well enough to win that game in the first place, is a lame sob story.
Of course, it's easy for former Eagles personnel to harbor ill will, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that what they did in preparation of Super Bowl XXXIX was in flagrant disregard of league rules. But by the same logic, it's also easy -- if not easier -- to believe that Andy Reid and Jim Johnson were flat-out outcoached, or that the Patriots were able to adjust better on the fly.
In a day and age where seemingly everybody wants to label the Patriots as cheaters, it's easy for a story like this to make the rounds and serve as confirmation bias for some people. But after 13 years, it's time to leave those allegations where they belong -- they don't accomplish any purpose in the task at hand.