Did the Houston Oilers steal signals?

The story of the week is the New England Patriots punishment by commissioner Roger Goodell for videotaping the New York Jets defensive signals during last week’s game. Here’s what Peter King had to say about it:

How brazen, how cocky, how untouchable, how arrogant must he have thought of himself. Coaching against a man who knew all his tricks — former Pats aide Eric Mangini — who KNEW to be looking for the video spy, Belichick was almost asking to get caught.

It didn’t strike me until today that Belichick did this against his former protege. Arrogant? Indeed.

However, Wade Phillips revealed that the Houston Oilers were accused of cheating during a 1979 playoff victory against San Diego Chargers:

Actually what happened was on film we noticed that [quarterback Dan] Fouts on a pass play had a staggered stance and on a run play he squared up his stance. And we called out run or pass to our defense.

That victory may have raised more eyebrows than the Titans win over Jacksonville last Sunday. The 12-4 Chargers had an explosive passing offense featuring Fouts, John Jefferson, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. The 11-5 Oilers had second-year league MVP Earl Campbell and Dan Pastorini, who in his ninth NFL season only completed 50.3 percent of his passes (a little historical perspective for Vince Young’s critics).


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