Whether you believe the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots cheated or not, the controversial “Patriot Way” has created one of the more intriguing dynasties in NFL history.
When the headsets went out in the NFL season-opening game between defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the common thought couldn’t be anything other than “here we go again.”
It’s only fitting that a team that had been accused of deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game just two weeks before winning their franchise’s fourth Super Bowl title – a storyline that commanded the NFL offseason besides the usual 30-or-so players getting arrested for various reasons – would also be accused of continuing their ways, this time on national television.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that he and his staff “were listening to the Patriots audio broadcast for the majority of the first half. On [their] headsets.” Tomlin added that they always had issues with the headsets at Foxborough, implicitly blaming the Patriots for creating yet another illegal advantage.
The Patriots, too, were forced to go without their headsets in the first half to “even the playing field,” however the Pats still won 28-21 to open their season.
The headset issue, which we’ll call “Radiogate,” is the latest controversy surrounding this Patriots franchise, let alone their surprising Golden Boy quarterback Tom Brady, whose career was sprung into the spotlight by way of controversy, and whose latter stages have thrived in it.
Going back as far as the infamous “Tuck Rule,” against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC Divisional game, this Pats dynasty could and probably should end with the same asterisk that Barry Bonds’ carries everywhere he goes. Yes, Bonds holds the record for the most home runs in baseball history, however, the number is tainted. Same rule would apply with New England.
Then there was Spygate – that time in 2007 when the Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for videotaping the New York Jets practices, specifically the defensive coaches’ signals from an unauthorized location during their season opener at the Meadowlands. New England won that game 38-14 and started what would become the first undefeated 16-game regular season in NFL history.
Most recently Spygate 2.0 arrived — in an in-depth piece by ESPN’s Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham as the reason that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went so hard after Brady and company for Deflategate. The story details the cheating ways of the Patriots dynasty since Belichick came aboard in 2000 and the results are beyond astonishing.
According to interviews conducted for the piece, the Patriots taped signals of opposing coaches from 2000 to the 2007 season opener. NFL executives discovered “eight tapes containing game footage along with a half-inch-thick stack of notes of signals and other scouting information,” and Goodell ordered everything to be destroyed.
There were also instances where a low-level Pats employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, particularly the opening offensive script. The practice became so notorious that opposing coaches put out fake play sheets for that employee to take.
The list goes on and on, but it’s easy to get the idea.
Yet, one would think that a team whose current dynasty is founded on cheating and controversy, would fall eventually, if not already. The unfortunate part is that this organization isn’t crumbling anytime soon.
More from FanSided
- Joe Burrow owes Justin Herbert a thank you note after new contract
- Chiefs gamble at wide receiver could already be biting them back
- Braves-Red Sox start time: Braves rain delay in Boston on July 25
- Yankees: Aaron Boone gives optimistic return date for Aaron Judge
- MLB Rumors: Yankees-Phillies trade showdown, Mariners swoop, India goes to Seattle
While the Pats are mostly to blame for the scandals they’ve created, Goodell, according to the report, is at fault as much if not more for letting it all slide as much as it has until now. Had he taken the proper actions from Spygate, there may not have been a Deflategate, Radiogate or even Spygate 2.0.
The Pats have not had a losing record since going 5-11 in 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season with the team. They’ve recorded 10 or more wins in 13 of the last 14 seasons (they went 9-7 in 2002), missed the playoffs just twice (2002, 08) and are on-pace to continue that trend in 2015. The question for their current campaign shouldn’t be whether or not they can win; it should be whether or not they can win cleanly.
We’re taught at a young age that “cheaters never prosper.” Four Super Bowls and 14 years of winning records later, the Patriots have found a way to not just win, but also be the face of the National Football League. The late Raiders owner Al Davis once said to his players that “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”
The Patriots are trying hard, and doing it pretty well.
To call the 2001-present day Patriots organization a “dynasty” knowing what this team has done to give themselves an edge is a disgrace to the NFL dynasties of old like the 49ers, Cowboys, Steelers and even the Raiders.
The Patriot Way: cheating perfected.
More from New England Patriots
- Patriots backup plan for DeAndre Hopkins is a shot in the dark
- NFL rumors: Patriots screwed themselves with DeAndre Hopkins pursuit
- Bill O’Brien arrival did not end the road for one disliked Patriots coach
- 3 biggest mistakes from the NFL offseason
- NFL Rumors: Dalvin Cook free agency complicated by court filing