Bending (Or Breaking) The Rules Is A Time-Honored Tradition In Sports


By Daniel Friedman
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The New England Patriots aren’t the first pro sports team to cheat (see: Deflategate), and it’s “more probable than not” they won’t be the last.

Heck, this isn’t even the first time they’ve cheated.

Which other franchises have stooped to their level? Let’s take a look:

4. New York Knicks

 

Phil Jackson during the Eastern Conference finals played in 1973 at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

Phil Jackson during the Eastern Conference finals played in 1973 at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

The original Deflategate occurred in 1973, four years before Tom Brady was born. In a 1986 Chicago Tribune article, Phil Jackson admitted that the NBA champs were deflating basketballs during the glory years to affect rebounds and discourage excessive dribbling. (Jackson attempted to clarify the matter 29 years later on Twitter, claiming the desired level of deflation was within the rules.) Additionally, some Knicks players were allegedly investigated by the FBI for fixing games in the early 1980s so that their drug dealer could make money.

3. New York Giants (Baseball)

 

Bobby Thomson (left) of the New York Giants scores a run in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series, October 6, 1951. New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra (obscured, second left) crouches to catch the ball as an unidentified Giant steps up to bat and the umpire watches the action. The Yankees won the game and went on to win the series. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Bobby Thomson (left) of the New York Giants scores a run in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series, October 6, 1951. New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra (obscured, second left) crouches to catch the ball as an unidentified Giant steps up to bat and the umpire watches the action. The Yankees won the game and went on to win the series. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Many former Giants players have either alluded to or directly insinuated that they were stealing signs during the second half of the 1951 season. To this day, there are those who will tell you that Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was made possible because he knew that a fastball was on its way.

2. Chicago White Sox

 

Headshot of American baseball player 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson (1889 - 1951) in his Chicago White Sox uniform, 1919. (Photo by APA/Getty Images)

Headshot of American baseball player ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson (1889 – 1951) in his Chicago White Sox uniform, 1919. (Photo by APA/Getty Images)

Known as the “Black Sox Scandal,” it involved eight players — including the legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson — who were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series in exchange for cash. All eight were banned from baseball in 1921.

1. New Orleans Saints

 

Saints head coach Sean Payton (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Saints head coach Sean Payton (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Reports eventually surfaced that the Saints’ coaches were offering bonuses to their players for injuring opponents’ stars. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entirety of the 2012 NFL season, while the Saints were fined $500,000 and had a pair of second-round draft picks taken away.

Worst Of The Worst: New England Patriots

 

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

It started with Spygate in 2007: the Pats were found to have videotaped Jets defensive coaches from their own sideline — which is illegal. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, while the Patriots were fined $250,000 and stripped of their 2008 first-round pick. Evidently, those punishments didn’t discourage them from cheating again, because that’s what they did in 2015 when the Patriots were accused of intentionally deflating footballs before the AFC Championship game. The ensuing investigation found that it’s “more probable than not” they were cheating, and that Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of the situation. How the NFL punishes the team remains to be seen.

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