Patriots

Oddly enough, hardly any noise has ever been made about the Colts’ cheating suspicions

Indianapolis, IN---11/30/03---Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signals to his bench during a deafing crowd noise for the next play and is forced to call a time out agaisnt the Colts during 4th quarter action at the RCA Dome. The Patriots defeated the Colts 38-34. Library Tag 12012003 Sports The Boston Globe - The Boston Gl

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signals to his bench at a loud RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

COMMENTARY

During the offseason, the NFL fined the Atlanta Falcons $350,000, took away a fifth-round pick, and suspended team president Rich McKay from the league’s Competition Committee for pumping artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome during both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Eight years later, the Indianapolis Colts remain vindicated for allegedly doing the same.

There was no “independent’’ investigation launched to delve into the happenstances of Nov. 4, 2007, when the 7-0 Colts hosted the 8-0 New England Patriots in a regular season showdown for the ages. Instead, it was CBS falling on the axe for the Colts, claiming the audio issues that occurred during the second half of the Patriots’ 24-20 win were on their behalf, and not RCA Dome officials.

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Anyone watching that game on TV will remember the particulars and the fallout that occurred in the hours and days that passed. With Tom Brady and the Patriots on offense, the crowd at the Colts’ home stadium sounded as if it were deafening. That is, until the noise skipped, like an unattended 45, before the din came to a sudden halt, revealing what seemed to be, at least to the viewer, a conspicuously quieter atmosphere after Brady connected with wide receiver Randy Moss.

It certainly wasn’t an…(ahem)…deflated reaction from the 57,540 fans on hand, yet rather an obvious and abrupt silencing, as if somebody hurriedly flipped the switch.

The broadcast network and NFL rights holder was all too quick to take the blame.

“CBS has informed the NFL that the unusual audio moment heard that fans might have heard during the Patriots-Colts telecast was the result of tape feedback in the CBS production truck and was isolated to the CBS broadcast,’’ a league spokesman told reporters. “The network and the league insisted that it was in no way related to any sound within the stadium and could not be heard in the stadium.’’

The Colts responded with a statement that read, “We trust this will put an end to the ridiculous and unfounded accusations that the Colts artificially enhanced crowd noise at the RCA Dome in any way.’’

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Maybe it was CBS’ fault, the company line from both the network and the league with any opposition to that admittance mostly boiled down to mainly “conspiracy theorists.’’ According to Adam Schefter, then with the NFL Network, a television executive from another network said that “after listening to the disputed moment in question, when the crowd noise dramatically died down after a Randy Moss reception at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it sounded to them as if an extra microphone was inadvertantly left open. CBS, not the Colts, was to blame.’’

Another TV executive told Schefter that “networks typically scatter at least 10 different microphones around the stadium to help pick up natural sound; cameras also have microphones. If any one of them is inadvertantly open, it could help produce the discrepency that brought Sunday’s issue to the forefront.’’

Seems innocent enough. CBS didn’t even take the time it normally takes to wipe Jim Nantz’s slobber off the play-by-play microphone when calling a game with Peyton Manning involved before network officials leapt to the Colts’ defense, but OK. Open mic night in Indy.

Still, it wasn’t like this was the first time the Colts have been formally or informally accused of pumping in fake crowd noise. According to yourteamcheats.com, the issue was also raised in 2005, when “a Steelers official, who asked not to be identified, pointed out many microphones attached atop poles and stationed around the lower perimeter of the stadium. He said he believed they were used to capture the crowd noise and then filter it through the public address system to blast it louder when the Steelers were at the line of scrimmage on offense.

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“ESPN’s Ed Werder went on the Dan Patrick show and said that believed “the Colts were pumping crowd noise through the speakers in the RCA Dome when the Steelers were on offense’’. The Colts issued a statement denying the charge.’’

It’s not like the Colts would have been alone in this regard of trying to get a defensive advantage, as recently proven by the Falcons. The Washington Redskins were fined $20,000 in 2000 for blasting cheerleader noise. There was some question about the Buffalo Bills employing a bit of tomfoolery during their quest to set a Guinness World Record earlier this season against the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium. How exactly is the claim so outlandish?

And based on how we’ve witnessed the NFL cover up certain scandals in its midst (Ray Rice) while going full-bore on the most benign (Deflategate), why should anybody be so quick to trust the reasoning given by both it and a league TV partner for what occurred back in 2007, particularly when it could have been portrayed as sour grapes on the part of the Patriots who just so happened to be knee-deep in the ramifications of Spygate?

Of course, the NFL was also quick to admit that the issue of malfunctioning headsets during the Patriots’ home opener earlier this season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, was a league issue, and not the result of the Patriots fooling with the frequency. Yet that didn’t stop eyebrows from being raised from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis, where the 4-0 Patriots will travel to Sunday night for their much-awaited showdown with the 3-2 Colts.

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As for the suspicions stemming from 2007, don’t bother to look for it. In a week that saw the NFL crack down on Twitter accounts for posting unauthorized GIFs of Sunday’s action, it’s interesting to note that, at some point over the course of the last eight years, the Internet has been scrubbed of both audio and video of the skipping audio in Indy.

Footage of fourth and two? Yup.

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Want the entire 2006 AFC Championship game? Here you go.

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Highlights from the 2003 AFC title game at Gillette Stadium? No problem.

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The “CBS audio glitch?’’ Sorry.

Call me suspicious, but it seems as if the NFL is rather selective with which clips containing its intellectual properties live on the Web and which don’t. Then again, commissioner Roger Goodell always has had a difficult time keeping track of videotape.

When Ravens coach John Harbaugh jokingly brought up the accusations last year, scout.com’s Philip B. Wilson quoted RCA Dome director Mike Fox from the “NoiseGate’’ chapter of the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. “The part that bugs me about that is, first of all, I’m not so sure I would have even known how to do it with my sound and lights guys,’’“And the part that bothers me about it more than anything is that it goes to integrity and my history as a referee and fairness. That just kind of got to me. I was mad.

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“To accuse us of actually doing that was ridiculous.’’

Not sure why. The Colts present themselves as pristine, but reality suggests they’re no different than anybody else.

Including the hated Patriots.

Photos from the Patriots’ Week 5 win in Dallas

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