Belichick lashes out on latest headset cheating accusations

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick says “it’s just not right” that his team is repeatedly being accused of cheating.

The coach lashed out on Friday against accusations that the Patriots tampered with the Pittsburgh coaching communications during Thursday night’s 28-21 victory over the Steelers.

Belichick said in a conference call with reporters that his teams have worked hard to win a lot of games, including four Super Bowls. And he thinks it’s a “sad commentary and it’s gone to a pretty low level” that people are wondering if they won them fairly.

The latest flap arose after Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin suggested that the Patriots might have tampered with the Steelers’ headsets in the first half of Thursday’s game. Tomlin didn’t flat-out accuse the home team of foul play but he said the communication problem does seem to happen a lot when he plays in New England.

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“We were listening to the Patriots radio broadcast for the majority of the first half on our headsets,” Tomlin said, adding that Pittsburgh coaches “always” have trouble with their communication systems in New England.

A league spokesman said the interference was “caused by a stadium power infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather.

And the Patriots said they had problems with their headsets, too.

“We deal with that, it seems like, weekly,” Belichick said.

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Other teams in the league have been suspicious of the Patriots at least since 2007, when the league caught coach Bill Belichick illegally taping opposing coaches’ signals. The team’s reputation took another hit last season when the Indianapolis Colts questioned whether the footballs New England used in the AFC title game were properly inflated.

Belichick and the team were fined $750,000 and docked a first-round draft pick for illegally videotaping coaching signals in the scandal that came to be known as “Spygate.” The team was fined $1 million and docked two draft picks after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled that the Patriots illegally deflated footballs in the AFC title game.

New England quarterback Tom Brady was slapped with a four-game suspension in the “Deflategate” incident but the suspension was rescinded by a federal judge.