Patriots’ longtime staffer says he will take specific Spygate details ‘to the grave’



Ernie Adams smiled, then took a sip from his glass of water before giving a forewarning to questions regarding the biggest scandal in NFL history. 

Adams was the Patriots‘ director of football research when the team was caught videotaping the New York Jets‘ signals in Week 1 of the 2007 season. Nearly two full decades later, there are still questions regarding Spygate, questions Adams has no interest in answering, now or ever. 

“Just so you know,” Adams said on Apple TV’s documentary on the Patriots’ dynasty, “on this whole video thing, the Jets’ game in 2007, I’m not going to re-open that. Could I tell you stories? Yes. It’s going to the grave with me.”

Bill Belichick is perhaps the only person that knows as much about Spygate as Adams, who somewhat defended the Patriots’ actions that led to the NFL fining Belichick $500,000, the Patriots $250,000 and a future first-round pick. 

“The biggest thing everybody has to understand is that there have been plenty of teams in the history of the National Football League who have tried to take signals,” Adams said. “It’s part of the game. Obviously, other people were filming our signals. I know in some cases they were. It’s kind of counter intelligence.”

Like Adams, Belichick also took part in the documentary. He immediately shut down questions regarding Spygate. 

“That’s all in the past,” he said. “I’ve made my comments on that. I don’t have anything to add.”

Belichick addressed the matter back then with CBS Sports. He acknowledged that the Patriots did indeed film opposing signals, but downplayed its significance.  

“We videotaped them,” Belchick acknowledged at the time “It wasn’t anything that wasn’t visible or wasn’t available. We did it in a way that was more convenient and in a way that we could study it a little bit better.”

Belichick downplaying the significance of what he and the Patriots did is in his best interest. But the video from the Jets’ game, and Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer’s subsequent report detailing specific details of the Patriots’ operation, says otherwise. 

“Adams sat in the coach’s box with binoculars and notes of decoded signals with direct audio to Belichick,” Glazer reported at the time. “They literally had the answers to the test before it was given.”

Spygate could have suffocated the Patriots into submission. Instead, New England used it as fuel. The Patriots went 16-0 during the regular reason. Most of their wins came in blowouts administered by the head coach. 

“Bill was just relentless,” former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said in the documentary. “We’d be up by 20, 30 points, and he’s telling the offense, ‘Do it again.’ We’re beating people’s ass so bad that we’re the bad guys. Sort of liked it, though.” 

New England had a chance to join the 1972 Patriots as the NFL’s only perfect teams. But they came up just short in Super Bowl XLII by virtue of the Giants‘ hard-hitting defense and some late-game heroics by Giants quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants’ 17-14 win is one of the greatest upsets in sports history. 

“The Giants were better than us that day,” Belichick said in the doc. “They out-coached us, outplayed us and deserved to win.” 

“We were crushed,” Brady added. “I was crushed. That was our history-making game. That would have been everything. … We were as devastated as you could be. There was no sleep. There was no sleep for a long time.” 

The Patriots didn’t win the title that year, but New England’s success under Belichick was in many ways validated after they won three more Super Bowls in the 2010s. Many within the NFL, though, feel that the Patriots weren’t punished enough back then. History still shows that the Patriots won the 2001, 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls, and it will remain so. 

However, the Patriots’ story will always include Spygate and its possible impact on those titles. 





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