Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk pulls no punches when he ponders the loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. In his mind, the Pats cheated.
Future (likely) Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner takes a different view. Recently, he expressed a more passive-aggressive opinion that stops short of accusation but sails past curiosity.
Warner has been making the rounds in support of The Moment, a new reality series on USA Network that gives those who believe they could have achieved their dreams if only they’d chased them a chance to scale the mountain without having to do very much climbing.
“I don’t look at it as tainted at all, that’s not the perspective that I choose to take,” Warner tells 411mania.com regarding the question of whether allegations of cheating tarnish the first of New England’s three Super Bowl wins. “But with that being said, I will say that I don’t know how you can’t wonder, how you can’t wonder if something did happen, if there was an advantage. I simply say that because to know that there was evidence out there, that there were tapes out there, but no one ever got to see the tapes — the Commissioner or whoever decided they were going to destroy them from what I understand — and so it continually leaves the question. Being that it was a part of the history of our game and it was directly part of my history, part of the history of my organization and my teammates, and possibly could have affected my career long term, you have a question; did something go on?
“But I don’t allow that to taint or affect the way I look at it. The Patriots beat us in that game – they outplayed us, they deserved to win – but it’s hard to just let it go by saying, ‘Oh, I don’t know if anything happened.’ I still have a question on what exactly when down in that whole time period; did they get some kind of advantage? Maybe it wasn’t in our game but did they get some kind of advantage in any game? I think it’s unfortunate for us and the people involved and for the people that are football fans that we have to even wonder ‘what if?’ but I’m not going to take that credit away from them and those players because I have really no idea what happened, if anything. I’m not going to automatically chalk it up as they cheated or they did do something or did have something because I don’t know. It’s unfortunate that I have to sit back and other players and fans have to sit back and wonder if.”
Warner could have shortened the answer up considerably by saying, “I’m not saying, I’m just saying.”
In Warner’s mind, the passage of time and an admittedly false report from the Boston Herald have morphed together into not-so-subtle accusations of skullduggery and subterfuge. After the Patriots were caught taping defensive coaching signals during Week One of the 2007 season, no one suggested that their first Super Bowl win was in any way tainted — even though the Rams fell into that relatively narrow band of teams New England had played once before earlier in the season, giving the Patriots a chance to tape defensive coaching signals and in turn to crack the code regarding the blitzes, coverages, etc. for the rematch.
It wasn’t until two days before the Patriots’ attempt to finish the 2007 with a 19-0 record that the report surfaced of allegedly secret videotaping of the final St. Louis walk-through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI. John Tomase of the Herald (whatever happened to that guy?) reported it, an eleventh-hour storm of something other than rain and wind immediately descended on the Patriots, and the Herald later recanted its claims.
More than six years later, Warner is connecting the quick destruction of evidence that was surrendered in 2007 regarding the taping of defensive coaching signals with the potential disappearance of the tape that was made (or that wasn’t made) nearly six years earlier as the Rams finalized their game plan for what ultimately became one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets in NFL history.
While it’s possible that the Patriots videotaped defensive coaching signals when playing the Rams during the regular season and used the information during the Super Bowl, the most stunning aspect of that game came from New England’s ability to shut down the St. Louis offense. And there’s still no evidence that this happened for any reason other than former Rams coach Mike Martz stubbornly refusing to run the ball more, even as the Pats were dropping nearly everyone into pass coverage.
Of course, the fact that the Patriots eventually were caught red-handed invites plenty of speculation. Which is essentially what Warner is doing. And if Warner is willing to do it, plenty of others will, too.