View Full Version : Starkey: Spygate's haunting question

11-13-2010, 11:10 PM
Starkey: Spygate's haunting question

By Joe Starkey
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hate to raise a sore subject, but Bill Belichick's in town for the first time since "Spygate" broke, so it only seems appropriate. It's also a significant part of what has spiced the underrated Steelers-Patriots rivalry over the past decade:


Belichick, by any measure, is one of the best coaches in NFL history. And he brazenly broke league rules for seven-plus years, starting in 2000, before his former assistant, Eric Mangini, went all John Dean and blew the whistle on the Patriots' video games.

Belichick stole signals in broad daylight, ordering his minions to videotape opposing coaches on the sidelines. He wasn't the only one, and nobody can say for sure how much the taping aided the Patriots in winning three Super Bowls (nobody except Belichick, that is, and he'd rather serve as Mangini's personal masseuse than talk about it) but the haunting question remains:

Why would Mr. Bill have continued the practice for so long if it wasn't doing him any good?

The subject is particularly sore for Steelers fans who believe their team was robbed of Super Bowl trips in 2001 and/or 2004. They believe the stealers beat their Steelers in AFC title games those seasons, though team officials have consistently maintained that the Patriots won fair and square.

Others within the organization wonder, and likely always will.

Whenever I have raised the issue with players or coaches, asking if they believe the Patriots might have utilized an ill-gotten advantage, they are careful in their responses. Nobody wants to make excuses.

But nobody answers with a flat no, either.

Hines Ward has always maintained, with more than a hint of accusation, that the Patriots were "one step ahead" of the Steelers in the '01 and '04 title games. I asked Ward on Friday if the Steelers' core group of veterans -- 15 remain from 2004 -- believe the Patriots had an edge, given that Belichick had apparently taped the team's hand signals during their regular-season meeting.

Ward laughed like a man who didn't want to say too much.

"It's locker-room talk," he admitted. "It is what it is."

He quickly added, "But we're not going to make excuses, go back and say they cheated. They've had great success with their coach and (quarterback) Tom Brady. As long as you have those two, you always have a chance to win."

Yes, but just out of curiosity, how much benefit might one derive from knowing the opposition signals?

Ward laughed again.

"It would help us out tremendously, picking out tendencies and being one step ahead of them at all times."

That answer reminded me of a conversation with the very man whose signals were heisted in 2004 -- defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. We broached the topic two years ago in training camp. LeBeau, who had never discussed the issue publicly, explained that his signals stayed much the same from game to game, so as to avoid confusion among his players.

Did the Patriots have an unfair advantage?

"I don't see how it could hurt 'em," LeBeau said. "But that's not for me to decide."

Oh well, it's water under the Bill now, I suppose ... unless you were one of participants and will go to your grave wondering if you were cheated out of a fair shot at the Super Bowl.

Joe Starkey can be reached at jraystarkey@gmail.com or .

(There is no team I HATE more the Cheatriots! I don't want to just beat the Cheats I want them HURT. Gay boy Brady is supposed to have an injured foot. I hope a Steeler player accidentally steps on it. If that results in the gay boy never playing football again I would be celebrating. I'm also sure that the scum Kraft bought Goodell which is why that SOB Belicheat was never suspended. To this day I will not purchase any Kraft products of any kind. - mesa)

tony hipchest
11-14-2010, 01:00 AM
just to be clear, robert kraft has nothing to do with the cheese food products. his business is shipping to the russians (mafia?) and chinese.