Ryan Clark has no problem labeling the New England Patriots as cheaters — but this time around, he doesn’t believe they were cheating.
The former NFL safety best known for his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2006 until 2013, called the Patriots “cheaters” — but made sure to stress that he believes they weren’t trying to gain an advantage from the recent Cincinnati Bengals videotaping incident.
Via First Take:
“Listen, this team changes offensive schemes game-to-game. Much less go change their scheme of cheating. I believe they are cheaters. I believe they’re the best cheaters in the world. I think they cheat more than anybody. And I don’t believe they were cheating this time.
What, they’re gonna film them and get this? They want to see Zac Taylor do this the whole game. It’s not the same league where people are signaling from the sidelines and you can get these things.
It’s a lot different and when you look at their approach to doing this and actually Bill Belichick’s approach. I appreciate him basically saying, ‘Yeah ya’ll, we cheat, and we push the envelope and we want to continue doing it. But we’re going to step back from this situation because this one, this time wasn’t us.'”
Patriots’ History Being Used Against Them
The Patriots have admitted breaking the NFL’s rules by videotaping the Bengals sideline during their Week 14 game versus the Cleveland Browns — although they did it while filming a segment for a video series they do on their website.
The reason why this has been blown to a bigger proportion than it should be is for two reasons: The Patriots play the Bengals in Week 15 and it’s their history of league scandals — whether it’s Deflategate or Spygate — make people immediately jump to the conclusion that the Patriots were trying to gain an advantage here.
Let’s be real — the Patriots weren’t going to gain any advantage from this videotape on the Bengals. New England has been guilty of league infractions before, but this one wasn’t malicious.
Did Bill Belichick Admit to Cheating Before?
As far as Clark’s reference to Belichick’s comments, here were the Patriots head coach’s comments which basically acquitted New England of being guilty for this current incident — although Belichick did make sure to mention that the Patriots always look for a competitive advantage.
“We’ve always tried to do everything the right way,” he said. “Look, we’re competitive, and we’ll try to be competitive in every area, but we don’t knowingly, intentionally want to do anything that crosses the line, but since that’s happened, I would say we’ve tried to keep a good distance behind the line and not maybe take it as far as we might have in the past, but it’s never really fundamentally changed there.”
The league has yet to decide any course of action in disciplining or fining the Patriots, but this is definitely a less dramatic situation than Spygate or Deflategate. Don’t expect the punishment to be severe, but expect commissioner Roger Goodell to at least crack down on the Patriots with some sort of discipline due to the public outcry and the Patriots’ history of breaking league rules.