ATLANTA — It has become an annual topic of conversation at the Super Bowl.
What are the Patriots doing to gain an advantage over their opponent?
Call it Patriot Paranoia. It’s a phenomenon that everyone around the country becomes wrapped up in. It began with Super Bowl XXXVI and the unproven and unfounded accusations that the Patriots taped Rams walkthroughs before the game on Feb. 3, 2002. It blew up with the Spygate controversy of 2007.
Every so often, a player on that initial Super Bowl championship squad will defend the wall and fight back against all of the hysteria that’s still out there to this day.
This week, no one offered a more articulate and calculated response than Willie McGinest. The irony of this is that Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, his co-worker at the NFL Network was on the other side of the field that day and someone McGinest had squarely in his sights.
“Me and Kurt Warner talked about it. ‘It was brilliant what you guys did,'” McGinest said in quoting the former Rams QB in Super Bowl XXXVI. “I still had a sack and a half. I still got to him. The plan for us was just to hit in a different uniform every single play, then rush or then drop in coverage. That was the game plan. It was successful. We won the game. Who cares about who did what. At the end of the day, if I’m on the other side of the ball, and I had a great game, great numbers, great stats and the confetti is coming down on somebody else’s heads, who cares? You feel like they respect it now because at the time there were people in St. Louis who said there were cameras. Cameras don’t win games.”
“The Patriots are in their ninth Super Bowl (with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady). If cameras were that big of a factor, then a lot of other teams would be doing it. Excuses are for losers. I never make excuses. When I lose, I lose. Whether you saw what we were doing or whatever, we figure it out, we make adjustments. And I think it’s disrespectful for all the men in our locker room who suited up and worked their ass off and worked hard and went in and executed a game plan to the tee, to have someone complain after the loss, ‘Well, they may have had this and they may have done that.'”
No one was a bigger accuser than Marshall Faulk, the man McGinest was assigned to punish throughout the game.
“[The practice] before the Super Bowl. The guy (Matt Walsh) who worked for the Patriots. If you remember, that was someone mysteriously living in Hawaii, who made his way back to the states and delivered the tapes,” Faulk said before Super Bowl LI in Houston. “[Roger] Goodell then watched those tapes and said there wasn’t enough there to deem anything being done.
“Now, I didn’t see what was on the tapes, because we didn’t get to see that. The only thing I could say is that they taped our practice. That was wrong.””To me, you’re crying about a loss. You could’ve affected the game during the game. And, here’s the thing for me, if you give me the answers to the test, it’s not going to be by a field goal, we’re going to beat your ass by 30 points. It’s not even going to be that close.”
That’s not to say the Patriots don’t take precautions themselves to prevent a careless sneak peek into their own work at Georgia Tech.
“There are 20-story skyscrapers surrounding the field. I don’t think we can have a public practice out there,” Belichick told Pro Football Writers Super Bowl pool reporter Jenny Vrentas, explaining why all of New England’s practices are indoors this week in downtown Atlanta.
This year, the Patriots have rallied around the cry “We’re Still Here”, partially in a tweak to all of those accusers and whiners that live to hate the Patriots.
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