There are a number of pretty stunning nuggets in the ESPN Outside the Lines report from Tuesday morning. Among them are an NFL owner calling Deflategate "a makeup call" and a report the Patriots taped opponents in up to 40 different games from 2000 through 2007.
Additionally, ESPN reports that the Patriots had a more "effective cheating method" -- notably a "low-level Patriots employee" would steal opponents play sheets.
In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn't even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team's offense.
ESPN also reports the "practice became so notorious" that opposing coaches would put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to snag.
And the Patriots, according to OTL, would have employees "rummage through" opponents' hotels.
Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports.
It wasn't just former Patriots coaches and players who spoke to ESPN about the matter: a former competition committee member says the Patriots were a consistent topic of discussion.
A former member of the NFL competition committee says the committee spent much of 2001-06 "discussing ways in which the Patriots cheated," even if nothing could be proved.
The whole thing is a wild, lengthy story and worth a read. Needless to say, the notion that Deflategate ended with the ruling from Judge Richard Berman is silly.