Earlier today, ESPN went all-in on the Patriots with an OTL report by Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham detailing the history of the Patriots’ history of bending the rules.
One of the most damning parts of the report revealed that the Patriots would send low-level employees into opposing locker rooms during pre-game warm-ups to “steal play sheets” from teams which scripted their offenses.
From the report:
In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports.
If the Patriots actually did steal plays sheets from opposing teams, that’s much worse than anything they have been accused of so far and warrants its own investigation.
You can read ESPN’s detailed report “From Spygate to Deflategate” here.