"Legal spying, stealing signals, the cat-and-mouse gamesmanship -- that's done by every team. But illegal spying through the use of videotape? Not common at all, according to sources who wished to remain anonymous. Most teams adhere to the strict policies in the league's Game Operations Manual that prohibit video recording devices on the field, in the coaches' booth and in the locker room during games.
"There isn't a team in the league that doesn't try to steal signals [but] I haven't heard about teams recording footage like the Patriots were," said one longtime NFL assistant coach. "But you can bet everybody is trying to steal in some way. In fact, you can go to any NFL game and you'll find some coach whose sole job is to look for defensive signals."
Added one NFC personnel director: "What the Patriots did is extremely rare because it's against the rules. It's one of those things that if it's not Bill Belichick involved, you wonder if the coach survives something like that. What is more normal is something like a guy sitting in a press box trying to steal signs by looking at the coaches. That's why the home team usually has its back to the press box when they're in their own stadium."
While it may be difficult to believe Belichick's Patriots are the only ones using the latest video technology to their advantage, the fact is they're the only ones who have been caught. If other teams knew opponents were illegally videotaping their signals, they'd likely alert league and stadium security, much like the Jets did Sunday at the Meadowlands.
This is the first time I've heard of somebody doing what New England did," one AFC personnel director said. "It wouldn't surprise me if somebody else has tried it in the past but the bottom line is that it's illegal. We all get the same memos from the league each season telling us what we can't do."
Added an NFC general manager: "The accusation far outweighs what is actually happening. This isn't rampant throughout the league. Now, the arrogance of thinking you could get away with it? That is the beauty of this. … It's the height of arrogance."
An AFC executive suggested that Belichick "probably got greedy and let whatever issues he has with [Jets coach Eric] Mangini get the best of him."
Another current assistant coach said the legal stealing of signals is just "good coaching. But when you start using video equipment to steal signs, you're off the reservation. I think that's a whole different matter. That goes against everything we've been taught as coaches."
That's one reason illegal videotaping of signals isn't widespread. Here's another reason: It may not be worth the risk of getting caught.
Sources say there is only so much that can be gained by stealing signals. Generally, coaches want to know only two things about the defense: (1) When a blitz is coming; and (2) What kind of coverage the defense is going to play. That type of information can be gleaned easily from other forms -- legal forms -- of spying.
Mangini worked for Belichick. His shema is similar to Belechick's. A) They better suspend Belichick. B) They better fine the team. C) Mandatory annual ethics classes.
Andy Reid give Bill Belichick your dumb ASS of the week award....