Let’s me get this out of the way first…The Patriots are cheaters. They’ve always been cheaters. And Roger Goodell basically endorsed their cheating culture with his handling of Spygate. Now the tides have turned as conspiring friends have turned foes with the handling of deflategate. And if you thought the league’s or the Patriots’ woes were nearing and end, the release of a new ESPN report about their relationship may just signal that this is just the beginning of the drama. You can read the entire report here, but I’d like to highlight an accusation that New England’s cheating ways directly affected the outcome of their 2004 Super Bowl victory against the Panthers.
The Patriots’ primary victims saw Spygate, and other videotaping rumors, as confirmation that they had been cheated out of a Super Bowl — even though they lacked proof. The Panthers now believe that their practices had been taped by the Patriots before Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. “Our players came in after that first half and said it was like [the Patriots] were in our huddle,” a Panthers source says. During halftime — New England led 14-10 — Carolina’s offensive coordinator, Dan Henning, changed game plans because of worries the Patriots had too close a read on Carolina’s schemes. And, in the second half, the Panthers moved the ball at will before losing 32-29 on a last-second field goal. “Do I have any tape to prove they cheated?” this source says. “No. But I’m convinced they did it.”
If you’ve been a Panthers fan longer than 10 years, questions about whether Belichick and the Patriots cheated during that game have circulated since the spygate story broke in 2007. But accusations and rumors are just that without proof and proof is something that we’ll probably never get.