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Im interested to see what happens and if this just kind of " goes away" or if the NFL really takes some action on this.Wednesday, September 12, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers assistant coaches say privately that New England coach Bill Belichick has illegally used cameras to spy on opposing coaches flashing signals from the sideline for years, even when he was coach of the Cleveland Browns.
The NFL has confiscated a video camera and its contents from a Patriots employee who was standing on the sideline during New England's victory against the New York Jets Sunday, recording hand signals by Jets coaches, according to an ESPN report.
The Patriots reportedly were warned about a previous use of a camera in a similar situation in Green Bay after the Packers escorted the cameraman from the field. A Boston Globe report also said the Buffalo Bills complained that the Patriots used a camera in a game against them last year.
Steelers coaches, who asked not to be identified, have suspected for a long time that the Patriots used such a device to gain an illegal advantage, although they did not file a complaint with the league.
One assistant said the Steelers changed their defensive signals whenever they played against New England because of their suspicions.
New Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not outright accuse New England of cheating, but said that the rumors have been around and "where there is smoke, there's fire."
Tomlin, at his press conference yesterday, responded to the allegations that the Patriots have used cameras illegally to focus on opposing coaches along the sideline in order to steal their signals.
"You hear rumors of things of that nature. It's nothing new. In terms of confirming it, it's never been confirmed in any instance to my knowledge. But usually where there is smoke, there's fire. Those rumors are founded on something. So it's not totally shocking, no."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could punish the Patriots with a fine and loss of draft picks if he finds the allegations to be true. The Steelers twice lost third-round draft choices for minor violations of NFL rules. They were caught wearing shoulder pads in a minicamp in 1978 and lost a pick in the 1979 draft. They were found in a minor violation of the salary cap and lost a pick in the 2001 draft.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said he did not want to comment on the Patriots' situation.
New England won three Super Bowls in this decade with Belichick as coach and reached two of them by beating the Steelers in AFC championship games in Heinz Field. Tomlin would not speculate on what punishment the Patriots should receive if found in violation, or if an asterisk should appear next to the team's championships.
"I'll let Roger Goodell deal with that. My job is to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers and get ready to play the Buffalo Bills. I'm a guy who gets single-minded this time of year. I can live in a box from time to time. I'll wait and see what comes out of New York in regards to that situation."
Dick Hoak, a former longtime Steelers assistant coach, said the Steelers once received a video from another team by mistake in their exchange with them. The video focused on an opposing coach using hand signals along the sideline. Hoak could not remember the team, but said the Steelers did not file a complaint.
Tomlin, without outright accusing Belichick and the Patriots of illegally spying, said they've been the focus of talk for years about it.
"A lot has been said about the New England guys and New England family, if you will," Tomlin said. "You focus on the variables that you can control; the men that you work with, your preparation; your performance, at least I do. I don't worry about those things."
The Steelers play at New England on Dec. 9.
League owners rejected a proposal in March to allow one defensive player to have a radio receiver in his helmet similar to what a quarterback has, so coaches could call plays directly to him. Such a rule likely would prevent the kind of chicanery the Patriots are accused of doing.
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