When you hear the name “Gaylord Perry” the first word that might come to mind is “Spitball”. However you might be surprised to know that in his entire 22 year major league that saw him win two Cy Young awards strike out over 3000 men and take the mound 777 times it wasn’t till his penultimate season that he was ejected for doctoring a baseball despite every umpire in the league watching him.
However as much as Perry was known for the spitball his very reputation put every single batter he faced on the defensive. All Perry had to do is go through the motions and the hitter was frozen.
Reading the latest ESPN report
In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. Walsh later told investigators that he was once instructed to remove the labels and erase tapes of a Patriots practice because the team had illegally used a player on injured reserve. At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — “small s—” that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.
But the truth is, only one man truly knows how much Spygate, or any other suspect method, affected games: Belichick.
Now, I don’t know how anybody gets some low-level schlub sneaking in an NFL locker room without a lot of people being in on it. That’s just hard to do, and my point is I really question this. Baseball is different. At least it was. I have some experience at this when I worked for the Kansas City Royals, but still it was tough. And if it was discovered that somebody from the other team is in there — I don’t care how low on the totem pole they were — it would have been a huge scandal.
The person would have been kicked out. There would have been holy hell raised over it. The other thing is the play sheet. This first 20 plays? Not every team does that. Some teams’ head coach scripts the first 20 plays for his own offense no matter what. They’re gonna do those 20 plays no matter what the situation is. They’re gonna run those 20 plays because it’s strategically been put together and they’re gonna learn how the defense operates in those 20 plays and those first two set up the rest of the game.
Not all teams do it. But I can guarantee you that no head coach would leave it laying around for some schlub from the other team to walk in and pilfer. You know, they’re kept in laminated folders to protect from the elements from rain and this kind of thing. They’re just not pieces of paper. It’s 8.5X11, color-coded. You’ve seen the head coach holding these things if you’ve noticed coaches on the sideline watching these things.
…it is clear the that patriots have spent the last 15 years living rent free in the heads of practically every time in the league.
None of this changes the fact that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, that Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots teams were some of the best trained and prepared teams in the league. Without those truths even if every allegation against the pats was true, they simply would not have been able to win as they did.
But given those facts and the obsession the rest of the league had with the pats, the question isn’t how the NE Patriots managed to win 4 Superbowls and play in six over the last 15 years. The wonder is how they ever failed to make it.