Are you still trying to decide which team to root for in Super Bowl LII on Sunday night? Maybe this will help.
The latest Super Bowl will actually be a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, which took place in Jacksonville back in 2005 and pitted the Patriots up against the Eagles. That game ended with the Patriots winning 24-21 and securing the third Super Bowl win for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But according to a former Eagles coach, New England may have been victorious, in part, because of some signal-stealing on the part of the Patriots.
Former Eagles linebacker coach Steve Spagnuolo, who most recently served as the interim coach for the Giants, was on Philadelphia’s coaching staff back in 2005, and on Monday, he did an interview on Philly radio station 97.5 The Fanatic and made a series of serious allegations against the Patriots. Spagnuolo suggested the Patriots cheated during Super Bowl XXXIX by stealing signals from the Eagles throughout the course of the game. He claimed then-Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson realized what was happening about halfway through the contest.
"I remember through the course of the game Jim saying, 'They’re getting our signals. They know when we’re blitzing…try to hide it, etc. etc.,'" Spagnuolo said. "I remember distinctly thinking, 'Jim, I don’t think that’s true.' Now I’m not saying this to him, because I just don’t want to upset him. I’m saying it to myself. 'I don’t think so, Jim, just concentrate on calling the game.' In hindsight, he was right. When you go back and look at that tape, it was evident to us."
Spagnuolo was also quick to point out he wasn’t necessarily trying to discredit what the Patriots were able to do during Super Bowl XXXIX. But he maintained he feels they had a competitive advantage over the Eagles during the game due to the fact they were stealing signals from Philadelphia.
"I’m not crying over spilled milk here," Spagnuolo said, "but we believed that Tom knew when we were pressuring, because he certainly got the ball out pretty quick. But you know, you got to play the game, and they won that particular day."
Spagnuolo would ultimately get his revenge on New England. After spending a handful of seasons with the Eagles, he served as the defensive coordinator for the Giants during the 2007-08 season and was calling the shots for New York when they knocked off the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. On Monday, he said what happened during Super Bowl XXXIX was definitely on his mind heading into that game.
"There’s no question I wasn’t going to let that happen in the 2008 Super Bowl after the 2007 season," Spagnuolo said.
Just about all of the Eagles players, coaches, executives, and staff from the 2004-05 season are long gone. So the Super Bowl "rematch" between the Patriots and Eagles won’t really be a rematch at all. But that doesn’t mean the Eagles won’t be thinking about Spagnuolo’s accusations when they take the field on Sunday night. If what he’s saying is true, it’s not really that surprising—remember the SpyGate scandal involving the Patriots filming the Rams during their Super Bowl walkthrough a couple years before Super Bowl XXXIX?—but it should still serve as a little bit of extra motivation for the current Eagles players.