Yet another coach is walking away from Gillette Stadium — after a loss — and talking about problems with his team’s headsets. This time it’s Andy Reid, whose Chiefs were defeated, 27-20, in a playoff game Saturday.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Reid said problems arose in the first half, as his staff was trying to communicate with quarterback Alex Smith via the radio in his helmet. The coach noted that the headsets cut out “just a little bit, not much,” and that, a the AP put it, he did not think it was anything out of the ordinary.
In other words, Reid wasn’t quite as fired up as Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin was after a Week 1 loss to the Patriots. After that game, Tomlin said it was “always the case” that he had headset problems at Gillette Stadium.
In that game, a 28-21 New England win, Steelers coaches found for a time that they were hearing the Patriots’ radio broadcast in their ears. For his part, Bill Belichick said that his staff was also having some headset issues during that game and that it had been a “longtime issue.”
It’s certainly the case that opponents have long been accusing the Patriots of various forms of subterfuge, and not just in the cases of “Deflategate” and “SpyGate.” A report by ESPN shortly before that Week 1 contest contained this passage:
At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — “small s—” that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.
A Sports Illustrated story published around the same time was headlined, “Suspicions of Bill Belichick’s Patriots regime persist among opponents,” and it contained this passage:
Incidents that might be considered innocent snafus elsewhere are viewed more skeptically in Foxborough. Headset failures are not uncommon around the league—Sun Life Stadium in Miami, for instance, is notorious for frequency issues. But representatives from several teams told SI they have experienced problems with the coaches’ equipment at Gillette—echoing a complaint from the Jaguars after their 2006 playoff loss there, when coach Jack Del Rio said his team’s headsets “mysteriously malfunctioned” for most of the first half. In May, Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby told ProFootballTalk.com that his on-field headset stopped working when his Cardinals played the Patriots in 2008, and he does not think it was an accident: “They gonna do what they gotta do to win. It’s just how they operate.”
Of course, Patriots fans could argue that all this complaining amounts to sour grapes by teams frustrated by their inability to defeat Belichick on the field. In addition, Reid does not seem to be trying to make a big deal out of his headset issues, which occurred during a game in which his own longstanding clock-management issues again played a major role.
But for all the fans who think New England is getting a bad rap, there are plenty of others who have decided that the Patriots have lost the benefit of the doubt.