When it comes to allegations of bending the rules, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are no stranger to controversy.
But now, allegations — or at the very least, insinuations — are being made against Belichick from something that happened 25 years ago.
In 1993, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns while Hall of Famer, Steve Young, was just coming off an MVP season and in his third season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback.
In Young’s autobiography, “QB: My Life Behind the Spiral,” he says that a game between the Niners and Browns from that 1993 season still bothers him to this day.
The 49ers were a perennial Super Bowl contender and the Browns were perennial losers, but Cleveland found a way to upset San Francisco 23-13.
How the game transpired and the outcome of the game seemed suspicious to Young.
— Lyndell Werling – Steelers Fangirl (@SteelersFGSN) April 2, 2018
“Cleveland was a lousy team,” Young wrote. “But it was as if Cleveland’s defense knew our plays in advance. We couldn’t figure out how they were doing it. I threw three interceptions and we lost, 23-13.”
The three interceptions tied a career-high for Young, who threw just three interceptions, combined, over his next eight games.
And it wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill offense that Belichick and the Browns somehow figured out that day. The 1993 Niners were the NFL’s highest-scoring team that season and posted the ninth most points in a season in league history.
This isn’t the first time an opponent has accused Belichick or the Patriots of somehow knowing what the other team was running.
There was, of course, Spygate in which a Patriots video assistant was caught videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals. Belichick was fined $500,000, which was the largest fine ever imposed against a coach, the Patriots were fined $250,000 and the team also forfeited a first-round pick.
There are also reports of opposing players and coaches fearing that Gillette Stadium was bugged. Tony Dungy said that when he was coach of the Colts, Peyton Manning and some other players didn’t discuss strategy inside the locker room at Gillette Stadium out of concern that someone was possibly listening in on them.
“I know that that is very true, and, you know, as Peyton talked to guys who played for the Patriots, some of the guys who came over [to the Colts] — whether it’s true or not he treated it as true. We didn’t have a lot of strategy discussions inside the locker room there,” Dungy said.
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has never had a problem with talking strategy while playing at New England, but he has had problems hearing what his coaches are saying.
After a 2015 game in which the Steelers had headset issues while playing in Gillette Stadium, Tomlin went off when describing the communication issues that always seem to pop up against the Patriots.
These “issues” and many more are a big reason why Belichick will always be considered by some to have used nefarious methods to become so successful. He’s the only head coach with five Super Bowl wins and has seven championship rings total, but some will always question if he had some insider information along the way to those rings.
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