A message to all 32 NFL fan bases

A message to all 32 NFL fan bases

Bryant Lilley

This is a message to the 32 fan bases of the National Football League: Your team cheats.

Did the Patriots cheat? Yes they did. But don’t be so naive to think that your team is the crowning jewel of the National Football League.

To anyone that has ever called Tom Brady a cheater, you’ve also called Peyton Manning a cheater, Aaron Rodgers a cheater, Cam Newton a cheater, and many other players and organizations cheaters.

Living in North Carolina, I have the pleasure of dealing with all the Panthers fans that are still salty over Super Bowl XXXVIII, in which the Patriots defeated the Panthers, 32-29. So I’m going to start with your team.

On Sunday, November 30, 2014, in a game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Panthers ball boys were caught on camera heating up the footballs, which is tampering and a minimum fine $25,000. All Carolina received was a warning. The temperature at that game was 12 degrees. You can’t tell me Cam Newton didn’t know they were heating footballs when he was handed a warm football every possession in sub-freezing temperature. Cheaters.

When the deflategate news broke after the AFC championship game in January, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers publicly admitted to over inflating footballs. Cheaters.

Back during Peyton Manning’s tenure with the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts were caught on camera and it was widely known around the league that the Colts piped in artificial crowd noise. The Atlanta Falcons were caught doing the same thing just this past season. Also this past season, the Cleveland Browns were caught texting on the sidelines. Cheaters.

Back when the Patriots were caught in the spygate scandal in 2007, former coaches Bill Cowher (Pittsburgh Steelers), Jimmy Johnson (Dallas Cowboys) and Mike Shanahan (Denver Broncos) all admitted that their teams also taped defensive signals from the sidelines. Cheaters.

I can go on and on listing cheating scandals from every organization in the league. As I said before, the Patriots did cheat. I’m not using this as an excuse for the Patriots, their fans or anyone else. It’s just something all fans should be aware of before you pass judgments. I have two messages to every NFL fan base.

Message No. 1: when a team gets caught breaking the rules, don’t be so quick to judge. Every team in the history of the NFL has cheated. Every team in the NFL will do whatever it takes to win, even if that means doing something that might not be within the rules. And guess what, it’s not going to stop. Through all these scandals, teams will continue to try and gain a competitive advantage in any way possible. Does it make it right that every team cheats or bends the rules to gain a competitive advantage? No, of course not. But it’s a fact.

The NFL front office likes to talk about the integrity of the league. Well let’s talk about the integrity of the NFL front office. Through deflategate, NFL sources have leaked information to the media that was proven to be false and the NFL still has yet to correct those reports, despite many requests by the Patriots organization. And now after Brady’s suspension has been overturned, all of a sudden both ESPN and Sports Illustrated both have stories on spygate on the same day. What a coincidence. So we’re going re-hash something that everybody knows about that happened eight years ago? Please. Get over yourselves. This is where message No. 2 comes into play.

My second message: do your homework. Don’t just read media headlines that the NFL and ESPN spew out to make a team look bad before and after they’ve lost in court, and make assumptions. Read the full article and other articles to look at both sides. Do your research before you make judgments. Because you know what, your favorite player or team might be the next one that the NFL decides to go after and railroad with a shady investigation, an unfair process and/or an unprecedented punishment. And I guarantee you, you will not like when all 31 other fan bases are yelling, “cheaters!”

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