Jan 29, 2013, New Orleans, LA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers former coach Bill Cowher at CBS sports Super Bowl XLVII press conference at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former Steelers HC Bill Cowher Pardons Belichick for ‘Spygate’

I’ve already expressed my displeasure with the interview former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher did with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick last weekend on NFL Today on CBS. Cowher did a whole lot of butt kissing in that interview, eventually telling Belichick to his face that in his opinion, Belichick will end up as the greatest coach of all time in the NFL. In the interview, which ran before the AFC Divisional Playoffs, Cowher never brought up the subject of “Spygate” the signal-stealing, walk-thru taping, controversy Belichick and the Patriots were accused of and caught doing and the one reason why in most people’s minds there will always be a blemish on Belichick’s coaching record. Cowher did take the time to address that subject in an interview on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday morning.

Cowher said that he doesn’t blame Belichick or the Patriots for the spying saying that if they were guilty of anything it was being arrogant and using cameras to enhance their spying as well as continuing the practice after being warned against it by the league. Cowher said that stealing opposing teams’ signals was commonplace in the league during that time and downplayed the significance of the degree the Patriots took that commonplace activity to. He even got to the point where he said that he doesn’t hold it against the Patriots for the Steelers’ loss in the 2004 AFC Championship game.

“We didn’t lose the game because of any Spygate, because of them having any additional things. I think if they’re guilty of anything, they’re guilty of arrogance, because they were told not to do something. But it was something that everybody does. The only thing they got caught [was] doing it with a camera. We had people that always tried to steal signals. Stealing someone’s signals was a part of the game, and everybody attempted to do that.” – Bill Cowher

I can’t help but remember the words of players like Hines Ward and Joey Porter following that disappointing loss to New England saying things like “it’s like they knew what we were going to do before we did it…” and “they were almost calling our plays before we called them.” But Spygate didn’t play a part, Cowher? So now it’s that the Patriots just simply outplayed the Steelers that day, or possibly that Belichick out-coached Cowher.

“Part of the things we had [were] wristbands that we were using to do it. It’s not even an element anymore because of the communications that take place on the field to the quarterback, to the linebacker. So it’s an element of the game that doesn’t exist, and really, what happened when we lost that game is they outplayed us, and it has nothing to do with stealing signals, or cheating, or anything else. They were a better football team on that day.” – Bill Cowher

Of course, every team was doing a certain degree of spying, so it’s no big deal that the Patriots took it to the level of taping not only the opposing teams’ signals during the games, but also their pre-game walk-throughs and anything else they saw fit to use that the NFL then saw fit to destroy when they decided the rest of the league and fans never needed to know just how much cheating was going on. It was such a non-issue that couldn’t have possibly determined the outcome of the AFC Championship game and God knows how many other championship games the Patriots were involved in during that time that immediately following the Spygate scandal, the league completely changed the in-game communication process teams have, all but eliminating even the need to attempt to steal signals. Sure, no big deal at all.

I realize that some of us just need to get over the whole Spygate thing. I think that grudge-holding is just a characteristic of Western Pennsylvanians just like our accents and propensity to always have a cookie table set up at family functions. I think that Cowher speaking out about this at this time speaks only to his position now as a talking-head analyst and that he’s lost whatever competitive nature he once had as a coach. While I agree that there’s no point in constantly rehashing the Spygate arguments and getting repeatedly upset over the whole thing and playing the “What if” game, I don’t think for one second that it’s an accurate statement to say that the Patriots never gained any true or real advantage that didn’t affect the outcome of the games they played it. There’s no way to definitively know that either way. I’m going by the way they played against teams they met multiple times during that period and the league’s reaction to the whole scandal to know that there was something going on that was wrong.

In the interview he also spoke about how little the chances that he’d ever return to coaching are, that he doesn’t get any urges to return to coaching when teams inquire about him.

“It’s not a question of waiting for any job. It’s a question of whether you want to jump back into doing that specific job and doing everything that it entails, and that thought has not even crossed my mind.” – Bill Cowher

Steeler Nation what are your thoughts on Cowher’s comments about Spygate, the 2004 AFC Championship, and his chances of returning to coaching?

You can listen to his entire interview here.

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Tags: 2004 AFC Championship Bill Belichick Bill Cowher Pittsburgh Steelers Spygate

  • Ishkabibble

    In the end, I just don’t believe Spygate made any difference. Too many (Aikman, Simms, Howie Long, Jimmie Johnson, etc..) have dismissed it’s significance and its impact. As mentioned, Cowher acknowledges the Steelers (and everyone else) was doing pretty much the same. But the overlooked and most important element, IMO, is; 5 steps back and 2 to the right and there is no Spygate. The Patriots weren’t fined for rolling tape, every team rolls video tape on the sideline. They were fined for rolling tape “in an unauthorized area.” And we’re hanging our hats on THAT being the only reason New England was winning? Ridiculous. It also might’ve helped if the Patriots hadn’t gone 70-25 or whatever their record is since the incident.

    • davidb


  • tpalya

    Cowher can pardon them if he wants, but I won’t.

    They will always be the Cheatriots coached by Bill Bellicheat.

    • davidb

      Maybe if your team was better, you wouldn’t be so angry.

  • Kewpie Cruz

    Lets not forget Josh McDaniels was caught doing the same thing when he went to be the Broncos head coach and is now back with Belichick. Do you think they are still cheating? I guess the better question is has Bill Belichick ever won a game without cheating?

  • Carl Eagan

    As Cowher pointed out everybody was doing it, but not quit like the Pats were. Of course as a talking head he will have to say the politically correct thing because thats his job. Hearing Hines Ward saying they knew the play before it was called tells a different story.

  • Kennythelid

    Time to get over it man, and by the way, people who think it had anything to do with the Pats winning those Superbowls are in the minority. You and Marshall Faulk should wring out your crying towels and get on with your lives.

  • davidb

    Yawn, everyone in the stadium has access to the information that the Patriots were caught “stealing”. Get over it. Teams change their signals between games, so anything learned before the game would be useless to anyone. Get over it. There was no evidence of taping pregame walk-throughs. Their videographer had his chance to show his proof, but there was none. Get over it. If it was some sinister conspiracy to steal signals, dozens of ex-Patriots would have said something to bring down their dominant, now ex-team, but no one has. Get over it. Not only Bill Cowher, but Jimmy Johnson and others say everyone did it at the time. The Patriots were the ones who got caught because of Mangini – an angry ex-coach who got chased out of the Patriots organization. Get over it. Did you know that the Jets got caught videotaping the Patriots sideline when they played later that year? If anything, that proves an anti-Patriot conspiracy rather than a pro-Patriots conspiracy. Once again, get over it.

    • Craig

      Wow. Really? You troll’d this article? Congrats, champ.

      • davidb

        Thanks! I will read anything, even the ramblings of angry Steelers fans whose own coach won’t listen to their whining anymore.