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Beyond 'Deflategate,' Other Examples Of Cheating


This past week, the sports world went nuts over the finding that the New England Patriots had indeed deflated footballs to make them easier for quarterback Tom Brady to grip. The hashtag #BanBrady started showing up. Ban him for a season, ban him from the Hall of Fame, ban him from the NFL. Ben Rohrbach says big deal. Every one of the league's 32 teams has cheated at some point.

BEN ROHRBACH: Didn't take me long to come up with examples for each team.

RATH: He's a sports blogger in - where else - Boston. And he made a list of every other team's cheats. The most popular was the use of performance-enhancing drugs, from steroids to the exotic. Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens got in trouble for using - and I'm not making this up - deer antler spray.

ROHRBACH: I'm still not sure exactly what that is, but I guess you spray it under your tongue and you're supposed to heal from injuries faster.

RATH: In 2007, the Patriots were actually the accusers. They claimed the Indianapolis Colts were illegally elevating the crowd noise during a game by blasting applause through their PA system. The NFL cleared the Colts in that case, but another team recently proved that's a real practice.

ROHRBACH: The Atlanta Falcons, actually, after this Super Bowl, were fined. They lost a draft pick, and their team president was suspended for the same thing - for pumping in crowd noise into a domed stadium.

RATH: There are coaches in the Hall of Fame right now who employed some sketchy moves. Take Bill Parcells of the New York Giants.

ROHRBACH: They found out that by opening a door at one end of the stadium, it created, like, a wind vortex that would affect opposing field goals, so, you know, one of their coaches later admitted that the door conveniently found itself open when the opposing team was kicking field goals.

RATH: To gain an underhanded advantage, the late Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers used the NFL's own rule. If one team's sideline communication system shut down, then the other team would also have to do without it.

ROHRBACH: And so Bill Walsh would script his first few series of plays and then cut his own communication system. And then, as a result, the other team would have to lose theirs so they couldn't communicate.

RATH: Ben Rohrbach even went all the way back to the very beginning of the NFL, back when the best football players were in college, not the pros. Even Curly Lambeau of the revered Green Bay Packers cheated.

ROHRBACH: Back in 1921, they had the franchise revoked for employing three Notre Dame players for their final game of the season. So the owner of the Packers actually had to pay the league to have his team reinstated.

RATH: And a long-standing tradition in the NFL was finally revealed in 2012, when the New Orleans Saints got busted for Bountygate.

ROHRBACH: They had a reward system - you know, they would get, like, $5,000 bonus or something if they injured another player on an opposing team.

RATH: So does knowing all of this make sports fans feel differently about Tom Brady? Probably not. But in Patriots' country, they're not interested in your support anyway.

ROHRBACH: I think in Boston, in a weird way, everybody loves that people not from Boston hate the Patriots and hate Tom Brady. It's a sort of - that's a very Boston thing to do is screw everybody else; we're awesome (laughter).

RATH: Ben Rohrbach is a blogger with sports radio station WEEI in Boston and with Yahoo! Sports. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.