While the Patriots claim their spying days are behind them, the Eagles weren’t taking any chances. Apparently, they ran a "fake" practice before the Super Bowl, just in case anybody was watching.
At least that’s what Eagles long snapper Rick Lovato told a Tampa radio station this week, via ProFootballTalk. When the team convened for its Saturday walkthrough at U.S. Bank Stadium, there were a few too many unfamiliar faces around the building for Pederson’s liking.
So the Eagles ran a dummy practice instead.
“I believe our whole walkthrough was just a complete fake walkthrough,” Lovato said. “We did it at the stadium. There were certain people walking around.
“I believe I overheard someone say a lot of the plays we were running weren’t even in the playbook for the Super Bowl.”
Interesting if true. First, a bit of history.
The Patriots notoriously got into hot water in 2007 for illegally videotaping their opponents’ defensive signals over a period of eight years as part of a scandal known as Spygate. However, there are also allegations New England filmed opponents’ practices and/or walkthroughs prior to at least two Super Bowls during that period. If true, that’s a much larger breach, as such videos would reveal huge aspects of a opponent's otherwise secret game plan beforehand. It's not implausible due to the teams working at neutral sites.
The NFL destroyed all evidence after its investigation, so we may never know. Regardless, between Spygate and the more recent Deflategate controversy, the Patriots have been branded as cheaters.
The Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota for most of the week leading up to Super Bowl LII, naturally with the assurance of complete discretion. Yet, it’s not uncommon for teams to take the field at the sight of the big game at least once before kickoff. Given the Patriots also had access to the same stadium, taking every caution was probably wise.
Lovato’s choice of words should be noted here. As a specialist, he wasn’t necessarily alerted to the entire team’s practice details, and admits to overhearing the walkthrough was fake.
Then again, years after losing in Super Bowl XXXIX, the 2004-05 Eagles were one of those teams that claimed the Patriots may have known more than Spygate suggests.
Whether or not double agents were crawling all over the place in Minnesota last weekend, nobody would blame the Eagles for taking the extra step to ensure no such controversy would happen again.