Attention NFL fans: I recently finished reading a book about the league’s most notorious cheating scandal called “Spygate The Untold Story.” I was asked by the author, Bryan O’Leary, to be interviewed for the book, as America’s foremost authority on sports gaming and pointspread analysis. Wait until you read what I have to say about this New England Patriots’ cheating scandal. Let’s just say that this very cynical New Yorker was shocked like I’ve never been shocked before. My jaw was wide open reading about this scandal of all scandals.
This is bigger than the famous “Black Sox Scandal” of baseball. Yet it’s all been swept under the rug by the NFL and the national media (that obviously does anything the NFL asks of them in return for a big piece of the NFL profit pie). I have to say, if you are a fan of the NFL you will absolutely love this book. Turns out the Spygate scandal was far worse than the NFL and its owners would like fans to believe.
Spoiler alert: Did you know Tom Brady had a second radio frequency going into his helmet so he could hear from his coaches after the 15 second cutoff? Well that’s what this book appears to prove. Even for a cynical New Yorker (and now Las Vegas native) like me, who thought I had seen and heard everything, I was blown away by the information in this “couldn’t put it down” book. “Spygate” covers the incident itself, including little known facts that were quickly swept under the rug by the NFL commissioner’s office.
Like the fact that Tom Brady left tens of millions of dollars on the table, to accept contracts well below what the top QB in the NFL should command, just to stay in New England. Why? Loyalty? What sports agent would allow his client to throw away tens of millions of dollars? Wouldn’t the top QB in the NFL be offended by lowball offers from the team that he took to the Super Bowl five times in his ten years? Yet Brady accepted the lowball offers without a fight. Strange. Brady and his agent accepted downright lousy deals to stay in New England. Why? Did Brady perhaps feel that the only reason a 6th round draft pick became a Hall of Fame QB was because of this cheating scandal? Did Brady become the best QB in the NFL simply because in New England, he always knew what play the opposing defense was calling before the snap?
Author O’Leary examines the history of the scandal’s three most important characters, including one that few NFL experts (even the experts in Boston) even knew existed. Testimony of coaches, players, and ex-employees completes the picture. The anecdotal evidence is extremely compelling. For instance- why do Bill Belichick’s unheralded assistant coaches all become the best offensive and defensive coordinators in the NFL while in New England, only to all fail miserably time and again when they get hired away by other NFL teams? Could it be because of this cheating scandal? Is it because at New England, they always knew what play was being called by the opposing team before the snap?
The book concludes with exhaustive and detailed statistical analysis studies conducted by a PhD of Statistical Science that shows performance levels achieved by New England that should have been impossible to achieve (without cheating). The Patriots’ home-winning percentage and against-the-spread performance under Belichick is proven literally impossible. It is in this chapter of the book where I (Wayne Root) am interviewed as an authority on sports gaming. The statistics literally blew my mind.
Overall a great read and brilliantly put together. Author Bryan O’Leary really did his homework. If you are an NFL junkie like me, this is a must read. You’ll never see Coach Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, or the 3-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots the same way again.
I promise you, you won’t be able to put this book down.
Happy Reading & Profitable Wagering,
Wayne Allyn Root
“The King of Vegas Sports Gaming“
Before the start of the football season, Cary Williams, a veteran cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles, reminded the sports world about a scandal the NFL would prefer people forget.
“One fact still remains: They haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught. They are cheaters,” Williams said in August.
He was referring to Spygate, when the New England Patriots were busted for illegally videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals during the first game of the 2007 season.
Then, as now with a series of disturbing incidents of domestic violence, the NFL seemed more interested in covering up the problem than investigating it.
“It really shows you what’s truly important to the NFL — and that’s ‘duck and cover,’ ” said Bryan O’Leary, author of the book “Spygate: The Untold Story.”
And that’s why certain allegations — including that the Pats were using a radio frequency outside the NFL’s purview to illegally communicate information to quarterback Tom Brady during the game — were seemingly ignored, O’Leary says.
The Jets play their archrivals again this Thursday, and some fans are still fuming about the advantage the Patriots had over them — and that it was never fully probed.
“I just don’t understand it,” said lifelong Jets fan Ira Lieberfarb, 60. “They got caught cheating, and it should have been investigated in more detail. I find it very strange.”
It was seven years ago that Jets security confiscated a sideline camera and tape from a Patriots video assistant during their Sept. 9 game at the Meadowlands.
The spying was a blatant violation of league rules, since knowing what an opponent will do on any given play confers an immense advantage to a team.
As 49ers quarterback Steve Young once explained to ESPN: “The game would be over. If I knew what was coming, that’s the whole game.”
It was Jets head coach Eric Mangini, a former Pats defensive coordinator, who dropped a dime to NFL security about the sideline shenanigans of his former mentor, New England head coach Bill Belichick.
Mangini already had prepared an elaborate system to foil his former team.
“He had three sets of signals being given, one real, two dummy. He had the same thing going when he beat the Patriots” the previous year, a former Pats employee told Sports Illustrated.
But that meant extra work — that both teams were not playing on the same level field, the ex-staffer noted.
“I wasn’t going to give them the convenience of doing it in our stadium, and I wanted to shut it down,” Mangini said on “NFL Live,” adding that he later regretted doing it. “There was no intent to have the landslide that it has become.”
The filming was fairly straightforward — a staffer pointed a camera at an opposing team’s coaches from across the field. And it had gone on for nearly a decade — since Belichick took over the Pats in 2000, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell later revealed.
It was so obvious, the Pats were busted several times before Spygate erupted, including a year earlier, during a 35-0 thrashing of Green Bay.
The Packers spotted Pats video assistant Matt Estrella — who was also shooting the video during the Jets game the next season — shooting unauthorized video from the sidelines. He was asked to leave — then was spotted doing it from a tunnel, which got him booted from Lambeau Field.
“From what I can remember, he had quite a fit when we took him out,” Packers President Bob Harlan said.
When the Lions played the Pats in Foxboro in 2006, the same thing happened, Sports Illustrated reported.
“ ‘There’s a camera pointed right at our defensive coach making his calls. Is that allowed?’ a Lions employee asked in a call to the NFL booth. No, it certainly was not. So the videotaper was stopped. Then after a while he began again,” the magazine reported at the time.
But it wasn’t just a matter of filming opposing team’s coaches — it was also how that information was allegedly passed to Brady.
As the scandal broke, the NFL was investigating a possible violation into the number of radio frequencies the Patriots were using during the Jets game, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, who reported at the time that the Pats did not “have a satisfactory explanation when asked about possible irregularities in its communication setup during the game.”
Quarterbacks communicate with the sidelines via microphones in their helmets that pick up an NFL-monitored radio frequency. An NFL sideline official cuts off communications on this frequency 15 seconds before the play clock runs out.
O’Leary — who uses data crunched by a Las Vegas bookie and a Ph.D. statistician from China with no previous familiarity with Spygate — suggests Patriots “director of football research” Ernie Adams, a prep-school chum of Belichick from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., was the nerve center behind the chicanery.
Offensive plays would be called based on stolen signals and the information relayed straight to Brady’s helmet, O’Leary theorizes.
In this scenario, the extra frequency is critical, as it allows the team to do something in real time with the stolen signals, out of earshot of the NFL monitor, and change its plays accordingly.
If there’s an open channel during the play itself, you can also alert the quarterback to open receivers he may not see.
O’Leary repeats a rumor that Pats backup quarterback Doug Flutie once said he accidentally picked up Brady’s helmet during the 2005 season.
“He was amazed that the coaches kept right on speaking to Brady past the 15-second cutoff, right up until the snap,” according to O’Leary.
“The voice in Tom Brady’s helmet was explaining the exact defense he was about to face.”
That same year, Pats linebacker Ted Johnson told USA Today that an hour before game time, a list of the opposing team’s audibles — the signals a QB would use at the line of scrimmage just before a snap to change the play — would sometimes appear in his locker. He had no idea where the lists came from. Three years later, he said he was as surprised as anyone to hear about the cheating allegations.
Action from then-rookie Commissioner Goodell was suspiciously swift, critics said.
Less than a week after the tape was confiscated, Goodell on Sept. 13 issued an emergency order compelling the Pats to fork over any other tapes. Yet before receiving any of them, he handed down his punishment: taking away the Pats’ first-round draft pick the next year, while fining the team $250,000 and Belichick — who claimed he simply misinterpreted the rulebook and never used video to gain a competitive advantage — the league maximum $500,000.
On Sept. 20, the NFL announced the Pats handed over six tapes and two days later said little about what the recordings contained — only that they had been destroyed.
“When somebody has a hit that looks suspicious, it takes the league three to four days of looking at a tape, then they issue a fine,” O’Leary said.
“In this case, they had a team that potentially stole three Super Bowls, and they issued a verdict in four days. Does that sound like the NFL was trying to get to the bottom of anything?”
And the league’s actions didn’t sit well with some outside observers, including Sen. Arlen Specter, who requested a meeting with Goodell in November 2008 to learn why the tapes had been destroyed.
What Specter learned from the one-hour, 40-minute sitdown in February 2008 was that the Pats had been spying on opposing teams for nearly a decade, ever since Belichick’s first year as head coach of the Pats.
“There was confirmation that there has been taping since 2000, when Coach Belichick took over,” said Specter, who called for an independent probe similar to a Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. It never materialized.
“I found a lot of questions unanswerable because the tapes and notes had been destroyed,” said the late Pennsylvania lawmaker. “We have a right to have honest football games.”
Despite rhetoric from the Beltway, the Patriots received no further sanctions — even after a long-delayed meeting in May 2008 between Goodell and Matt Walsh, an ex-Pats videographer who worked for the team from 2000 to 2002. Walsh came forward and eventually handed the league eight additional tapes, including evidence that the team was swiping in-game defensive and offensive signals against Miami, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and San Diego in 2000 and 2001.
Belichick assured the league the team never used information from the tapes during the same game and said he simply misinterpreted the league’s rule.
But critics such as O’Leary don’t buy it.
“If you tape a defensive coach’s signaling in the plays, and you compare it to the action of the field, you can quickly discover that when they flap their arms like a seagull, they’re in a blitz,” he said. “The basic formations are pretty easy to decipher with just a quarter of the action taped.”
Walsh did not return The Post’s call for comment, but in 2008 he told “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” that the team’s intent was clear.
“Coach Belichick’s explanation for having misinterpreted the rules, to me, that really didn’t sound like taking responsibility for what we had done, especially considering the great lengths that we had gone through to hide what we were doing.”
Spygate: The Untold Story
By Tim Gleason August 7, for Behind the Steel Curtain
A new book has hit the market. It’s called Spygate: The Untold Story. Do yourself a favor and buy it. I was contacted by the author prior to the writing of this book. Frankly, I had my doubts that any “outsider” could write a good book about Spygate, but Bryan O’Leary did just that. He really did his homework with research and was careful to footnote all his facts. You will enjoy O’Leary’s sarcastic wit and “wordsmanship.” This book is an easy read, about 46,000 words, that is both easy to follow and clear to understand.
As the title implies, the book is about Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots and the videotaping scandal (or curious non-scandal) that was uncovered in September, 2007. Among the many fascinating touchpoints of this informative and thought-provoking manuscript:
- If Bill Belichick innocently “misinterpreted” the video policy (after all teams received a written warning less than a year earlier), why did the “innocent” videographers (including Matt Walsh) lie to sideline security about what they were doing?
- Wasn’t it strange that the NFL decided to minimize the escapade before talking to Walsh, the star witness? Why is Walsh under a gag order now? Why was the evidence destroyed quickly, an act that defies all logic of investigative process?
- Who is Ernie Adams and why is he the most powerful football mind that no one has ever heard of? Belichick brought Adams to Cleveland in 1991 and after a few years, Browns owner Art Modell offered $10,000 to anyone who could tell him what Adams did! Players still to this day chuckle at the shroud of secrecy that surrounds that man.
- Belichick claimed that he didn’t use the taped signals during the games in question, his “misunderstanding” loophole. Why then did he tape games of teams he wouldn’t see again that year, including our 2004 AFC Championship Game, which Senator Arlen Spector stated on the Senate floor that Steelers players thought the Patriots knew everything that Pittsburgh was going to do?
- Why does Belichick continue to hire cardboard cutouts for coordinators – young people with no experience or older failures – or hire no coordinators at all? Is it interesting that one such young failure, Josh McDaniels, was caught video cheating soon after he moved to Denver?
In addition to the above intriguing discussion points, O’Leary’s book goes into some very interesting statistical phenomena which defies explanation. Why does New England always win at home? Yes, they’re good, but five seasons with perfect 8-0 records? A 31-game home winning streak? An unbelievable record of beating the point spread? The book gives some eye-popping data that will make you think, or perhaps re-think.
You may not agree with everything O’Leary concludes (surely Patriots fans will have an answer for everything), but if you put all the pieces together, like O’Leary does, what can be concluded? The book reminds me of an old saying: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and acts like a duck, guess what – It’s a damn duck!
By BART HUBBUCH
- Last Updated: 1:26 PM, October 21, 2012
- Posted: 11:25 PM, October 20, 2012
The NFL might have long since moved on from the 2007 Spygate scandal, but at least one extremely determined fan has not — and he’s claiming Bill Belichick and the Patriots haven’t, either.
Bryan O’Leary has spent what the Dallas-based financial strategist estimates is $30,000 (and counting) to self-publish the book “Spygate: The Untold Story,” which alleges the Patriots’ videotaping was much more vital to their three Super Bowl victories than the NFL let on, and that getting exposed by the Jets hasn’t kept Belichick from continuing to engage in misconduct to this day.
The Patriots did not acknowledge a request for comment about the book by The Post. An NFL spokesman declined comment.
Citing no sources but using data he says was crunched by both a Ph.D. in statistics from China and a famed Vegas bookmaker, O’Leary insists that breaking the rules is the only way to explain New England’s incredible success at home since 2002, and especially in the six seasons since the taping scheme was uncovered.
Nevertheless, there has been no further official action by the league since the Spygate incident.
O’Leary, who grew up in Pittsburgh as a Steelers fan, claims a logical reading of those numbers means the Jets can expect to be yet another victim of skullduggery in today’s AFC East showdown at Gillette Stadium.
“You just cannot explain away all these statistical anomalies,” O’Leary said in a telephone interview this week. “The only thing that makes sense is that the Patriots are still cheating, and it’s especially obvious to anyone with a brain who looks at the numbers that they’re still cheating at home.”
Citing a 2007 ESPN report that the Patriots were accused of using a second radio frequency at home, O’Leary theorizes New England assistant Ernie Adams — one of the more mysterious figures in the league — still communicates with Tom Brady via that alternate frequency after Brady’s helmet microphone goes dead per NFL rules 15 seconds before the snap.
O’Leary also suggests the Patriots still could be using cameras to film opponents’ defensive signals at Gillette Stadium by hiding them in obscure places.
What isn’t in dispute is Belichick and the Patriots — despite a Week 2 loss to the Cardinals this season — remain practically untouchable at Gillette Stadium long after Spygate was uncovered.
Including playoff games, the Patriots are 34-7 (.829) at home since Spygate was uncovered after the 2007 season opener and 77-16 (.828) since 2002, numbers that are such huge statistical outliers in the NFL’s salary-cap era of parity that O’Leary says they can’t be attributed just to Belichick’s coaching skills and Brady’s quarterbacking.
The next-best team on that list is the Ravens, who are 66-21 (.759) at home — more than a season’s worth of home games behind New England and simply too good to be true to O’Leary and his SMU-based statistician, Dr. Miao Zang.
Even fishier to O’Leary and Zang is the Patriots posting five unbeaten regular seasons of 8-0 at home from 2001-11 and winning 31 consecutive home games in one stretch with Brady at quarterback.
Zang describes the five unbeaten home records as “an extreme statistical anomaly” compared with the rest of the NFL, where almost half of the league has failed to do that even once since true free agency arrived 20 years ago.
“The average NFL team since 2002 wins just 4.5 of its home games, yet the Patriots win seven out of eight every year for 11 years — three standard deviations from the rest of the league,” said O’Leary, noting in particular that New England went 8-0 at home in 2009 but just 2-6 on the road.
Even more suspicious, O’Leary writes, is the Patriots’ uncanny success in covering the point spread both home and away the past 11 years. New England is 109-69-6 against the spread since 2001, producing a net of 40 winning bets that Zang writes is once again nearly three standard statistical deviations from the rest of the league — “an extremely rare case.”
“The statistical evidence seems to show they’re still using a non-football advantage,” O’Leary said. “I’m not saying they’re cheating, but this isn’t a win-all-your-home-games league.”
O’Leary’s book claims the league and commissioner Roger Goodell also were complicit because Goodell intentionally minimized the cheating by refusing to suspend Belichick, destroying the tapes and having former New England aide Matt Walsh — who was part of much of the filming — sign a confidentiality agreement.
Belichick claimed he did not know the tapings were against the rules. Goodell disagreed, and took the unprecedented steps of docking the Patriots a first-round pick and fining the team $250,000, and Belichick a record $500,000. But O’Leary says the league covered up the full extent because it feared the fallout from fan, coach and player lawsuits as well as the potentially enormous damage that three officially tainted Super Bowls could do to the league’s bottom line.
“The NFL isn’t a $9 billion-a-year entity and teams aren’t worth more than a billion dollars each if people know its games were fraudulent,” O’Leary said. “Why else would the owners all go along in making this go away?”