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7 NFL Cheaters (Some Aren’t the Patriots!)

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in News

Updated Jan 17, 2018 · 9:39 AM PST

This week, everyone in the sports world has once again turned their attention to ragging on the Patriots, the team that, despite having a “wicked smaht” coach and legendary QB, can’t seem to stop bending the rules. The NFL’s pending four-game suspension of golden boy Tom Brady shows they’ve grown tired of the Patriots’ river dancing on the proverbial line. But, as history shows us, the rules have always been an optional part of professional football, and, as the following list shows us, it hasn’t always been the Pats opting out …

(1) Spygate!

Except for this time.

Yes, the famous scandal that first made the Pats the top of everyone’s most hated list. The Patriots were caught videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals during a game on September 9, 2007. An investigation revealed that it had been common practice for the Patriots and the team was fined $250,000 and lost their first round pick in 2008. More allegations came out during that time that the Pats had taped the Rams walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, but they were never proven. The cheater label stuck with the Patriots all season and karma caught up when their undefeated season came to an end in Super Bowl XLII.

Always the student of Bill Belichick, coach Josh McDaniels took his cheating strategy with him to Denver where a Broncos employee was busted filming the 49ers’ walkthrough in 2010. They were only fined $50,000, an amount Belichick probably found adorable.

(2) Mike Tomlin’s sideline dance

On Thanksgiving 2013, Mike Tomlin came as close as he ever would to making an NFL tackle, stepping in the line of Jacoby Jones and ruining the returners chance at a touchdown and a 20-7 lead. Tomlin claimed he always watched returns on the Jumbotron and just lost track of where he was. If that’s the case, Tomlin must get into Mr. Magoo-like-scenarios whenever he’s texting and walking. Baltimore would still go on to win the game 22-20, the Steelers would be fined $100,000 for Tomlin’s lack of spatial awareness, and the internet would go on to make hundreds of memes about the incident.


But while Tomlin, just impeded Jones’ path, the next entry took it a step further…

(3) Sal Alosi has a knee-jerk reaction

During a punt return in the Jets-Dolphins game on December 12, 2010, the Dolphins’ Nolan Carroll mysteriously ended up on the ground in a heap. Replay would show that Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi stuck out his knee and tripped Carroll as he went by.

The Jets were fined $100,000 for his actions, then it was later discovered he had also instructed his inactive players to line up along the sideline and hopefully impede players. Alosi was suspended and eventually resigned, and now imparts his wisdom on the impressionable youth at UCLA.

By the way, the Jets also lost this game. So it goes to show, if you need coaches to help tackle players, your team probably is not good enough to win anyways.

(4) Falcons make some noise of their own 

The Pats weren’t the only team forced to give up draft picks next year for underhanded tactics. The Falcons were fined $350,000 and forced to give up a fifth round draft pick after the NFL discovered the team had been “pumping in” crowd noise over their stadium’s sound system for the past two years. It’s really a sad reflection on Falcons fans that stadiums like Arrowhead and CenturyLink field can continually break noise records and Atlanta has to resort to playing “touchdown celebrations” on iTunes. Not only is it a lame way to gain an advantage, but it really didn’t help; the Falcons have been 6-10 at home over the past two years.

They aren’t alone in this though. Allegations have come in the past against the Colts and the Vikings for using the same tactics. Shape up dome teams!

(5) Rice “sticks” it to everybody

You probably heard John Madden ramble on and on about “Stickum”; it was like a glue that all the great receivers used to use before it was banned in 1981 (after Lester Hayes used to bathe in it before games). Stickum was the preferred catching aid for the likes of Fred Biletnikoff, Lynn Swann, Jerry Rice… wait a minute, Jerry Rice? Rice didn’t join the league until 1985! Yes the greatest receiver of all time admitted to using a banned substance for most of his career. Crazier still, the NFL did absolutely nothing about it. He was never fined or punished, even though refs had to have known. They noticed a ball that was low a few PSI, how would they not notice a ball covered in molasses?

clifford franklin


(6) Seahawks have ADD?

The NFL has a long, long, long, long standing history of PED abuse for players trying to get an edge. But the Seahawks defense at least got creative with it in 2012. The Hawks made like they were cramming for a final exam, taking Adderall to help them focus, and while it may have helped their rise as one of the league’s premier defenses, it also led to four players being suspended (Walter Thurmond, Bruce Irvin, Winston Guy, and Brandon Browner twice) over two seasons. It would have been five, but Richard Sherman managed to get his suspension overturned on appeal.

Perhaps it was too bad quarterback Russel Wilson wasn’t taking part, he could have used some extra focus.

(7) The Snowplow Game

The Patriots make the list again! Although this time it was head coach Ron Meyer pulling the strings, not Beli-cheat.

Heavy snow made it impossible for the Patriots and the visiting Dolphins to muster any offence during a 1982 week 6 game. Late in the fourth quarter, Meyer ordered snowplow operator Mark Henderson (a convicted felon on work release) to clear a spot on the field so that kicker John Smith would have a clean place to kick. Smith nailed the kick and the 3-0 score held up. Dolphins coach Don Shula protested the game, claiming it was an unfair advantage. Even though commissioner Pete Rozelle agreed with him, he couldn’t do anything since there was nothing in the rule book saying the Pats couldn’t do that. So a rule banning snowplows was put in place the following year.

The tractor used to clear off the snow is actually enshrined in the Patriots Hall of Fame, because the organization never wants to forget its rich tradition of bending the rules.

(Featured image credit: WEBN-TV (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)

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