Earlier this week, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher defended coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots against accusations of cheating that arose from Spygate, a scandal hung over New England during its undefeated 2007 regular season and raised questions about the legitimacy of three Super Bowl titles between 2001-2005.
And Cowher had first-hand experience with facing the Patriots in big games. In January 2005, New England defeated Pittsburgh in an AFC Championship matchup, on the way to its third Lombardi Trophy.
“We didn't lose the game because of any Spygate, because of them having any additional things,” Cowher told CBS Pittsburgh's 93-7 The Fan
“Part of the things we had [were] wristbands that we were using to do it," he continued. "It's not even an element anymore because of the communications that take place on the field to the quarterback, to the linebacker. So it's an element of the game that doesn't exist, and really, what happened when we lost that game is they outplayed us, and it has nothing to do with stealing signals, or cheating, or anything else. They were a better football team on that day.”
On Friday, former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown agreed with Cowher's assessment.
"There's the reason coaches are so secretive," Brown told the DA Show on CBS Sports Radio. "There's a reason why [Bill] Parcells used to look up in the trees at practice. ... There's a reason why all these coaches are so paranoid. There's a reason why coaches don't want you to leave paper in the meeting room when you're on the road. You heard Jimmy Johnson talk about sending guys over to the hotel rooms to see if [players from the other team] left something behind.
"[In today's NFL] these [players] are mic'd up on the field, you can hear every word, every signal. Peyton's calling 'Omaha' like it's some big deal. We've been doing 'Omaha' for I don't know how long. It could mean something different, but now it's mic'd up and you got it on tape. And if they don't change that up that's their fault.
"So the NFL now, if you want to say it, is spying on teams and quarterbacks and giving the world all the code words and everything else. Trust me, if a defense is over there giving signals and I can figure out what they were running after they gave the signal, hell yeah I'm going back and tell my teammates.
"So kudos to Bill Cowher for saying that really wasn't the difference in the game," Brown said. "We just went out there and played our asses off and beat them. I commend Coach Cowher for coming out and saying that and Jimmy Johnson for saying the things he said in the past about that situation. I think it's speculation [where] people refuse to give credit where credit is due."