BALTIMORE - AUGUST 28: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens speaks to the referees against the New York Giants in a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 28 2010 in Baltimore Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Giants 24-10. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
I posed that question on Twitter Tuesday, and was met with affirmation from Ravens fans, and silence from Patriots fans. Granted, it wasn't exactly a scientific poll, but the message was clear;
Patriots fans feel it best to just ignore the topic all together. And Ravens fans don't feel their coach said anything out of line. In fact, the only real reaction we saw or read was from former Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi.
The comments, which Harbaugh made on 98 The Rock radio in Baltimore, stemmed from a question about the New Orleans Saints, and recent allegations (as well as audio evidence) pools of money were essentially awarded to players for injuring members of opposing teams, and insinuated the Patriots Super Bowl wins were "stained" and have "asterisks" on them.
In the end, everything is brought before the light of day, when it's all said and done. What happens, even the thing in New England, no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now. It's been stained....
To me, (cheating is) never worth it. You have to figure out ways to use the rules to your advantage; you have to figure out ways to make the most of everything. We have new work rules here as far as what we can do and what we can't do with our players, and we're going to make the most of it...But if you're cheating, in the end, you're going to get discredited. It's not worth it.
If people are in any way upset over what Harbaugh said, they must not be listening to what he said.
SpyGate, and the Patriots' conscious decision to film opposing coaches and players in areas they are not allowed to film them, all in an effort to decode signals and signs to use at an unfair advantage, happened. Harbaugh is not speaking to a physical asterisk on their records, or a stain on their Lombardi Trophies. He's speaking to the fact people are still talking about the scandal to this day, and it happened five years ago.
Any time the Patriots of the new millennium are brought up, SpyGate will be there with them, like a tag-along kid brother.
If Tedy Bruschi doesn't like that, then I'll speak for the masses when I say I don't give a toss. The one issue we never got past - and presumably never will, considering the hallowed and legendary leadership of Commissioner Roger Goodell led the league to destroy the tapes after the Patriots were served with a $250,000 fine and docked a first-round draft pick (Patriots coach Bill Belichick was given a $500,000 fine as well); if it served no purpose, why did they do it?
At what point in Belichick's Hall of Fame coaching career, which spans over 30 years, was it permissible for teams to plant assistants on an opposing team's sidelines during a game armed with a video recorder? It wasn't. Belichick knew it. He got caught, they paid the price.
The issue wasn't, isn't and never will be about what the gleaned from that information (although Steelers SS Troy Polamalu has said he walked out of Heinz Field in January, 2005, thinking Belichick was the greatest defensive coach alive because of how he always seemed to be one step ahead of the Steelers in the AFC Championship game). It's simply about the fact he did it.
Bruschi can be in denial all he wants, but to try to shield that criticism because of "all the work" he put in to win those championships is laughably absurd.
The fact Harbaugh brought it up, and the message he sent, is a great one for all coaches in the league.
What he's saying is not the Patriots should give their trophies back; it's knowingly breaking the rules carries with it a potential price, and that price is something he's not willing to pay in order to succeed.
There's no sense denying what happened, Tedy. Feel free to stick your head back in the sand if you'd like, but please don't pull it out and get all puffed up with pride because your former team is linked with a scandal you choose to deny.