Long before #DeflateGate ate an entire offseason, and long before ESPN’s Outside the Lines report on the depth of the alleged cheating by the Patriots during the Spygate era, former Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney accused the Patriots of creating a “culture of cheating.”
Reached this morning before he went on the air for his show on ESPN 730, Hurney said he didn’t have anything to add to his previous comments, which were strong enough on their own.
Today’s ESPN report mentions specifically the belief among the Panthers that their practices had been taped prior to Super Bowl XXXVIII, and that offensive coordinator Dan Henning changed their game-plan at halftime.
“Our players came in after that first half and said it was like [the Patriots] were in our huddle,” a Panthers source told ESPN. “Do I have any tape to prove they cheated?. No. But I’m convinced they did it.”
While some Patriots loyalists have taken shots at Hurney in the past, effectively claiming sour grapes, the body of today’s report echoes what he said prior to the Super Bowl.
His suggestion then was that the inflation of a particular football in last year’s AFC Championship Game was secondary to the pattern of behavior the Patriots are alleged to have exhibited. And that the failure for the league office to act thoroughly and decisively then made the current scandal a bigger one.
And today’s ESPN report digs into just that.