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Did Patriots cheat Kurt Warner’s Rams out of 2nd Super Bowl win?

Tweet by Kurt Warner brings back memories of accusations that Patriots cheated to beat Rams in Super Bowl

NFL: Super Bowl XXXVI Providence Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK

Kurt Warner has never outright accused the New England Patriots of cheating to gain an advantage ahead of Super Bowl XXXVI, like some of his former St. Louis Rams teammates, but he has said that there’s always been a “sliver of doubt” since the 20-17 loss cost him a second championship. Warner didn’t accuse the Patriots of cheating with a tweet on Saturday either—the Hall of Fame quarterback is likely referencing the ongoing videotaping scandal investigation of the University of Michigan—but he did make it clear that he believes he’s exceptionally unaccepting of cheaters.

Some could say that “videotaping to gain an advantage” is something that directly impacted Warner’s Rams an opportunity to win a second Super Bowl and that he takes it personally when any coach, not just Bill Belichick, is accused of cheating to win.

“I know I think differently than most ppl,” tweeted Warner. “But I’m amazed at how our society has become so accepting of cheating, in any form or fashion... I’ll saying (sic) it again, breaking the rules knowingly, no matter how big or small, is about INTEGRITY & I’ll always hold that in the highest regard.”

During the 2008 Spygate investigation of the New England Patriots, the Boston Herald reported that the Patriots secretly taped the Rams walkthrough the day before the Super Bowl. Former Rams coach Mike Martz said “I hope it’s not true” at the time, but it only put fuel to the fire for St. Louis players who had always felt that they didn’t lose fair and square.

Most vocal among them is 3-time Offensive Player of the Year and 2000 MVP Marshall Faulk, who has said, “I’ll never get over being cheated out of the Super Bowl.” Faulk went as far as reference Kurt Warner as someone who “will tell you” that indeed the Patriots cheated to gain an advantage to upset the 14-2 Rams.

“But No. 13 (Kurt Warner) will tell you. Mike Martz will tell you. We had some plays in the red zone that we hadn’t ran. I think we got to fourth down—we ran three plays that we hadn’t ran, that Mike drew up for that game—Bill’s a helluva coach . . . we hadn’t ran them the whole year (and the Patriots were ready for them).”

Eric Dickerson, long retired at the time, backed up Faulk’s beliefs and said that the Rams deserve a rematch. (In fact, they did get a rematch a few weeks after that story and the Patriots won one of the worst Super Bowls of all-time.)

Former Rams coach Dick Vermeil, who left the team after the first Super Bowl and gave way to the Martz era, has also called the Patriots cheaters.

Left tackle Orlando Pace said that he thinks “all guys feel that way” in regards to his teammates and the Patriots cheating the Rams out of a second Super Bowl. Receiver Isaac Bruce said that taping the walkthrough “gave them an edge” and “something was going on” because street free agent cornerback Terrell Buckley was beating him to spots on the field like he knew what play was coming.

What is perhaps most amazing about these accusations, as many players in history who lost the Super Bowl have said that they feel that they were cheated that day and that’s not an exaggeration (more games than you can imagine have been said to be “rigged” or had something fishy going on), is that these are all HALL OF FAMERS who believe that they lost because of a cheating scandal.

The NFL’s greatest of all-time are on record saying that the New England Patriots, the biggest football dynasty ever, have been cheating to gain an advantage during the entire Bill Belichick era.

However...

It is worth noting that the Boston Herald also issued an apology and a retraction for their 2008 story about the Patriots cheating to beat the Rams:

While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed.

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

ESPN also had to apologize for sharing and repeating the story.

Linebacker London Fletcher has said that the Patriots didn’t cheat and that the Rams just did not play well enough to win. “They outplayed us.”

Which isn’t that hard to imagine now because though the Patriots win was considered one of the biggest upsets of all-time, it clearly...wasn’t. The Patriots won two of the next three Super Bowls and in the next two decades dominated the AFC East in a way that no team has ever dominated a division before or since. They reached nine Super Bowls in the Belichick/Tom Brady era and four other AFC Championship games and even with more verifiable evidence that New England has broken the rules along the way...

If any team could be that successful with a little bit of cheating, then every team would cheat a little bit.

The reason that we pay attention to the Patriots cheating scandals is not because they’re the only ones... It’s because that they’re the Patriots. We only care about punishing the teams that have cheated and won, not the teams that have cheated and lost. There are other teams that have been accused of and punished for cheating, including the Cleveland Browns. Multiple times and with significant punishments.

But nobody cares because the Browns don’t cheat to win. They just cheat and keep losing.

Did the Patriots cheat to gain an advantage in the Super Bowl against the Rams? Aside from circumstantial evidence that is repeated by the players who lost the game and a report that has since been retracted, if not outright debunked, there’s nothing to base that on. Is it possible? How could it NOT be possible?

Does Kurt Warner think they did?

It doesn’t really matter at this point. But he obviously wouldn’t take it well.