NFL

Will Tom Brady and the Patriots Be Remembered for Cheating or Winning?

For nearly 20 years, Tom Brady has been a New England Patriot. With him and head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have been one of the most accomplished dynasties of all-time. Now, Brady is leaving New England and is expected to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the Patriots’ dynasty as it stood for almost 20 years officially breaking apart, will it be remembered for all of the winning, or all of the cheating?

Spygate potentially helped the Patriots get to at least one Super Bowl

In 2007, the world learned about one of the biggest sports scandals in recent memory. Yes, this was well before the Houston Astros did what they did. The Patriots were caught videotaping opponents’ defensive signals. This certainly could give them an edge on offense because they knew what defenses were coming. 

This was discovered during a 2007 regular-season game against the New York Jets, according to Sporting News. NFL security seized the video assistant’s camera and film, and the Patriots ultimately admitted to wrongdoing. After an investigation, the NFL revealed that there were diagrams of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive signals, including notes used in the 2002 AFC Championship Game, according to ESPN. That was a game the Patriots won 24-17. The Pats then went on to win their first-ever Super Bowl that season. Belichick was ultimately fined, the Patriots were fined as an organization, and the NFL took away a first-round draft pick.

Deflategate resulted in the NFL suspending Tom Brady

Through the years, the Patriots knew how to walk a thin line when it came to the rulebook. Against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 playoffs, the Patriots disguised an eligible receiver as a tackle while putting an ineligible receiver in the slot. This was not cheating, though. They just went around the rules.

Then later in 2014, Deflategate began. During the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, a Colts player noticed a ball the Patriots were using was under-inflated. This led to an investigation that concluded it was, “more probable than not” that the Patriots deliberately used under-inflated footballs, according to Sporting News. It also said that Brady was likely at least generally aware of what was happening. Brady was ultimately suspended for four games and the NFL fined the Patriots, in addition to taking away two draft picks.

Was there a Spygate 2.0?

Again, there were other things to pop up but were never proved. The Steelers coaches once said their headsets malfunctioned during a game in New England in 2015. The NFL, however, said this was a technical glitch.

In 2019, though, the Patriots were maybe caught doing Spygate yet again. One week before the Patriots played the Cincinnati Bengals, someone from the Patriots staff was in the press box taking video during the Bengals-Browns game. There were reportedly extended shots of the Bengals’ sideline. The Patriots said this was part of a video series documenting a day-in-the-life of an advanced scout. The NFL was reportedly close to wrapping up its investigation into this in late February, according to Bleacher Report.

The Patriots won and they won a lot

In 2001, Brady filled in for an injured Drew Bledsoe. He ultimately led the Pats to the team’s first Super Bowl title that year and the rest is history.

The Patriots won another Super Bowl during the 2003 season, and then another one the next season. After that, they went to two Super Bowls but lost them during the 2007 and 2011 seasons. However, they won one in the 2014 season and then went to three straight Super Bowls during the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons. They won two of those three in 2016 and 2018.

Over the years, Brady and the Pats have been to nine Super Bowls and have won six. They also went to 13 AFC Championship Games, including eight straight from 2011 to 2018. Additionally, Brady has won four Super Bowl MVPs and three regular-season MVPs.

Patriots will be remembered more for winning

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots looks at head coach Bill Belichick.
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots stands on the field with head coach Bill Belichick. | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The cheating scandals should not be overlooked. Who knows how much they actually helped them over the years. However, whenever people discuss the Patriots, especially in recent days with Brady leaving, the scandals seem to be an afterthought. People will always bring them up, but they are more of a side note.

It is hard to win in the NFL. The Patriots did it for a long time. Sustaining success over a 20-year span is hard to do too and the Patriots did it. The cheating and the scandals were big parts of the Patriot dynasty. However, many will remember Brady and the Patriots more for dominating the NFL and winning a lot of football games than they will for the corners they cut to do it.