The700Level

The700Level

Maybe if the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, and defeat the New England Patriots in the process, that will finally heal the wounds left from Spygate, 13 years ago.

Maybe people can finally stop making excuses for the Eagles’ inability to beat the Patriots back in 2005.

I realize this is going to be an unpopular opinion outside of Boston, but I’ve never been able to muster much outrage for the Patriots’ version of cheating. And I’ve certainly never put much credence in the idea cheating was the reason the Eagles lost Super Bowl XXXIX, not after the offense committed four turnovers and scored a whopping 14 points until less than two minutes remained.

Yet, the multitude of former Eagles players that populate our local media have frequently made mention of Spygate over the past week-and-a-half. Far longer than that, actually. The scandal has been brought up from time to time through the years when members of that team reminisce about, most often, how the Patriots offense somehow knew when blitzes were coming. Just the other day, former Eagles defensive backs coach Steve Spagnuolo was in the news for railing on about Spygate, even if he never explicitly used the word.

Clearly, many Eagles players, coaches and fans alike are not completely over this controversy. The degree to which they are not over it varies, and that’s each individual’s prerogative.

 

After all these years, it just seems trivial.

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 their calls.

“The guy’s giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Spygate in 2015, per ProFootballTalk. “So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too.

“The guy’s in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody [on the] sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That’s it.”

It’s true the Patriots have been accused of worse than what is public record. It’s possible they did worse than what is even alleged. The NFL destroyed all of the evidence they have of Spygate, a decision that lends itself to conspiracy theories. And the Patriots have been embroiled in another cheating scandal since – Deflategate – and found guilty again, however flawed the investigation was. It would be inaccurate to claim they didn’t break the rules, perhaps delusional to believe they aren’t looking for ways to stretch the rules right now.

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.

Hopefully an Eagles victory would exorcise those demons once and for all, because it’s nothing more than revisionist history. The Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX. All that matters now is who wins Super Bowl LII.