Setting aside for now the question of whether the NFL may be brushing this whole #HeadsetGate thing under the rug because the NFL doesn’t know how to even begin to go about proving it, it’s clear that benefits can be derived from interfering with coach-to-coach communications — even if the end result is the plug being pulled on both teams’ systems.
In the 1980s, former Giants coach Bill Parcells suspected the 49ers of consistently pulling the plug on the communications early in the game. Under the late Bill Walsh, the offense scripted the first 15 plays, making the ability of the coaches to talk to each other unnecessary. So Parcells finally decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Getting ready to play them again . . . in the playoffs, and I said to Bill [Walsh], ‘These phones go out again to start the game, I’m gonna expose you,'” Parcells explained to NFL Films in the Football Life documentary devoted to Walsh. “He looked at me with a little wink and says, ‘Just a little gamesmanship.'”
At some point in the last 30 years, gamesmanship that coaches dealt with among themselves became multi-million-dollar “independent” investigations. But the rules have always been the rules, and the best way for dealing with infractions of the rules lies somewhere between brushing it off as gamesmanship and spending $5 million in legal fees.