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September 08, 2015

Senior members of Eagles believed Patriots cheated before Super Bowl XXXIX

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Just when you thought there might be a conclusion to Deflategate, the story continues to keep rolling along. Today, Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham of ESPN, who are two extremely plugged-in investigative journalists, dropped a bombshell in the form of a long feature.

The subject of the two reporters’ piece is the New England Patriots (who else?). Specifically, the crux is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s harsh handling of Deflategate was essentially “a makeup call” for how he conducted the Spygate investigation eight years ago.

In something that has been broached before (but perhaps never this clearly), the Eagles are one of the teams who have raised suspicion about the Patriots’ videotaping habits. Specifically, they’re talking about the disappointing loss in Super Bowl XXXIX. Here is what the story had to say regarding the Birds: 

When Spygate broke, some of the Eagles now believed they had an answer for a question that had vexed them since they lost to the Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX: How did New England seem completely prepared for the rarely used dime defense the Eagles deployed in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on three of four drives? The Eagles suspected that either practices were filmed or a playbook was stolen. "To this day, some believe that we were robbed by the Patriots not playing by the rules ... and knowing our game plan," a former Eagles football operations staffer says.

One of the major characters in the Spygate investigation was now-deceased United States senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Back in 2008, Specter wasn’t thrilled with how Goodell handed the in-house investigation in only a matter of a week.

Specter, who was a well-known Eagles fan, also seemed to have an interest in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles’ two most influential figures at the time (Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid), told Goodell they didn’t share the suspicions of Specter and other “senior members of the team”:

The senator seethed that Goodell seemed completely uninterested in whether a single game had been compromised. He asked Goodell whether the spying might have tipped the Patriots' Super Bowl win against the senator's favorite team, the Eagles. Goodell said that he had spoken with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and then-head coach Andy Reid and that "both said the outcome of the [February] 2005 Super Bowl was legitimate," an assertion contradicted by the private feelings of many senior members of the team.

The whole story is worth a read, even if it might take you a half hour. As for some Patriots fans, they are dealing with the latest news by going on the offensive against the Eagles and other teams mentioned in the article:

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann