To this day, the most popular counterargument to the Patriots’ infamous 2007 Spygate scandal is that every team engages in those practices.
Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher lent credence to that notion in a surprise revelation.
During a radio interview on Wednesday, Cowher admitted the Steelers attempted to steal opposing teams’ signals because it was “a part of the game.”
“The only thing they got caught (was) doing it with a camera,” Cowher said, referring to the Patriots. “We had people that always tried to steal signals. Stealing someone’s signals was a part of the game, and everyone attempted to do that.”
According to Cowher, his team used wristbands to try to identify opponents’ verbal signals that were being yelled out on the field.
Cowher downplayed its effectiveness, however, and asserted that the alleged cheating had nothing to do with Pittsburgh’s loss to New England in the 2004 AFC Championship game — one of the more memorable defeats in his tenure.
“[It] isn’t even an element anymore because of the communications that take place on the field to the quarterback, to the linebacker. So it’s an element of the game that doesn’t exist and, really, what happened when we lost that game is they outplayed us, and it had nothing to do with stealing signals or cheating or anything else. They were a better football team on that day.”
“We didn’t lose the game because of any Spygate, because of them having any additional things,” Cowher said. “I think if they’re guilty of anything, they’re guilty of arrogance because they were told not to do something. But it was something that everybody does.”
Cowher isn’t the first ex-coach or player to say stealing signals is “a part of the game,” and he’s likely not going to be the last.
[H/T Pittsburgh Tribune]