The New England Patriots are once again embroiled in a controversy over whether they cheated.
The Patriots were found to have had an advanced scout and film crew at the Cincinnati Bengals Week 14 game. The Patriots said they were filming a team show called "Do Your Job" and that not informing the Bengals and NFL was an "oversight." According to a report, however, the footage included the Bengals sideline. The details are similar to those from "Spygate," and the NFL is now investigating.
It's not the Patriots' first brush up against the NFL rule book. Over the last 20 years, the Patriots have been accused of bending the rules. In some cases, like "Spygate," it was pretty certain that they broke the rules. In other cases, like "Deflategate," it was unclear how involved they were. Many of the other accusations against them have come from paranoid teams.
Below are some examples of Patriots cheating scandals and accusations.
In 2015, ESPN reported that the New England Patriots had long had a reputation in the NFL for cheating.
Bill Belichick, who runs the Patriots' football operations, has often been considered the mastermind of the schemes. A former Patriots assistant coach told ESPN that Belichick would be good at doing taxes because he'd find "loopholes."
The biggest cheating scandal was "Spygate," in which the Patriots filmed opponents' offensive and defensive play signals to study them. The Patriots would recognize signs during the games and relay them through headsets.
According to ESPN, the videographers filming the signals would go to games as employees of Robert Kraft or Patriots TV and had excuses for what they were shooting, such as a team show.
Though the Patriots had long been accused of filming opponents' signals, the scheme truly came to the surface when the New York Jets caught them in the act. Then-Jets head coach Eric Mangini, a former Patriots coach, knew of the scheme and told security to be on alert.
The next biggest scandal was "Deflategate," in which the Patriots were accused of deflating footballs before the 2014 AFC Championship.
According to ESPN, there has been league-wide "paranoia" about how the Patriots would cheat.
According to ESPN, former Patriots staffers would admit to some methods of cheating during the Spygate years. For instance, they would steal play sheets from the opponents' locker room.
Opponents also said their headsets would get scrambled when they played at Gillette Stadium.
Some opponents were worried that the Patriots bugged their locker rooms. Peyton Manning famously would only speak to coaches outside the locker room.
There were "regular rumors" that the Patriots filmed the Rams walk-through for the 2001 Super Bowl, which the Patriots won in an upset.
The Eagles were paranoid of the same thing. They ran a fake walk-through prior to the 2017 Super Bowl in case the Patriots were filming it.
Occasionally, odd things have happened to Patriots opponents before big games. In 2017, the Steelers had to evacuate their Boston hotel after someone pulled the fire alarm at 3 AM on the day of a game against the Patriots.
The Patriots have drawn criticism for finding gray areas in the rules. In 2015, they ran a brilliant trick play vs. the Ravens in the playoffs that upset John Harbaugh.
Belichick has defended the Patriots methods before, saying the team will always try to push the envelope and find an edge within the boundaries of NFL rules. Over the years, not every team has enjoyed the Patriots' methods.
Now, read about some of the biggest controversies in NFL history...