James Harrison doubles-down on Patriots cheating allegations

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots
AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The year is 2024, and there are still retired players accusing the Patriots of cheating over twenty years ago.

Considering most don't want to hear New England fans complain about how their losses to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII and the Eagles in Super Bowl LII were unfair, it's ironic that over 20 years later, these players are still whining about theirs.

But what makes this player joining in on the accusations (again) more interesting is he eventually played for the Patriots at the end of his career.

James Harrison, who had been a lifelong Steeler besides his one season in Cincinnati and New England, was recently on Cam Heyward's "Not Just Football" podcast. He was asked if he believed the Patriots were cheating during the 2004 season AFC Championship.

Heyward couldn't even finish his question before Harrison immediately jumped in to say they were definitely cheating and described how he could tell.

"Hell yeah, they was cheating. They only missed one blitz, man, where previously, when we beat New England and Philly, they couldn't see the broad side of a barn."

James Harrison's evidence of the Patriots cheating 20 years ago is a joke

Harrison's reasoning for believing the Patriots were cheating is kind of laughable. He referenced the Steelers handing them a beatdown when the two teams met earlier that season.

They won with an end score of 34-20 and a week later, also beat the Eagles who would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl a few months later.

When the Patriots and Steelers met in the AFC Championship, the roles reversed and it was New England that dominated all game long, winning 41-27 to head to the Super Bowl.

According to Harrison and several other Steelers who have accused the Patriots of cheating that year, because they lost in their earlier matchup and they "knew their defensive signs," there was no way they weren't cheating.

Harrison's accusations are more interesting because he ended his career with the team he believes cheated him out of a Super Bowl Championship. That makes you question if he legitimately believes the Patriots were being sneaky or if he's just trying to drag up a boring talking point again.

It could be a mixture of both, as it seems, with several others of his former teammates. But the Steelers head coach at the time, Bill Cowher, doesn't believe anything nefarious was going on and doesn't hold a grudge two decades later.

"It's only cheating if you get caught. Like any player, if you're going to hold him, don't get caught. If you get caught, you're wrong, if you don't, you're right. I always thought we never lost the games to New England because of Spygate.

"If [Belichick] got the calls because we didn't do a very good job of making sure we signaled those in, that's on us, it's not on him. Because we're always looking for competitive edges." 

Perhaps more retired players should adopt this mindset and move on from their bitterness.

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