As we’ve seen on every season of Hard Knocks, players who are cut from teams are asked to relinquish their playbooks before leaving the facility for the final time.
According to Browns coach Mike Pettine, that doesn’t stop the information from falling into the hands of other teams. Pettine told Greg Bedard of TheMMQB.com that he intentionally keeps his playbooks on the slimmer side — there isn’t “a lot of graduate-level information in it” — because he knows they find their way to “places like New England.”
Pettine isn’t just referencing Spygate. He told Bedard that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady bragged to former Jets assistant (and Wes Welker’s college roomate) Mike Smith at Welker’s wedding that the team “may or may not have had possession” of a couple of the Jets’ defensive playbooks.
“It didn’t shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway,” Pettine said. “He gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban and I was like, ‘Don’t you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.”
How much more help the general playbook, as opposed to specific game plans, would be on top of watching film of what teams do over the course of the season is hard to know. That said, it’s understandable why Pettine and other coaches would rather keep as much information in-house as they possibly can.