Monday, September 17, 2007

New England Patriots Jamming Wireless Frequencies?

Born and raised here I'm pretty much a die-hard New England sports team fan - Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots. I've read the reports and listed to the commentary on national TV and a lot of the local radio stations. I found it a little hard to believe the Patriots would break a rule the way they did but it sounds like they did. If you haven't heard the news - here's how I understand it.

Apparently the Patriots had a camera guy taping the defensive coaches as they sent signals out to the team on the field. After each signal recording the guy would pan the camera up to the scoreboard to show the down and yardage. From what I've read the team could then take this after the game and synch up the signals with the down and yardage information. This would potentially allow the Patriots to determining which plays the Jets would run in different situations the next time they play each other.

I'm not sure how much sense this makes - the two teams don't play again until December 16. You would think by then the Jets will have changed their signals in fear of someone over the course of the season figuring out their signals. It only makes sense to mix things up.

Last night, while watching NBC’s Football Night in America before the Patriots played the Chargers I watched the Bob Costas interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell had some interesting quotes for Costas - here's a couple taken from a New York Times piece:

“I’ve notified the Patriots that if there’s information that I’ve not been made aware of, or if it’s inconsistent with what I’ve been told, I will revisit” the decision, he told Bob Costas on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” which preceded last night’s San Diego-New England game."

"He said the league was monitoring all the radio frequencies assigned to teams to determine if they were being used properly. NBC showed a crew of frequency coordinators working behind the Patriots’ desk last night."

Why are they monitoring frequencies? Here's more from the Times article:

"Earlier in the day, “Fox N.F.L. Sunday,” which showed a copy of the Patriots’ video that the league confiscated, and CBS’s “The N.F.L. Today” reported that the league may investigate the Patriots’ use of audio receivers to interfere with the Jets’ quarterback-to-coach communications."

"NBC reported that the Patriots might have wired linemen to pick up the Jets’ offensive audibles."

Quarterbacks have been wearing headsets for a while now and I've always wondered if any teams had tried to jam or tap other teams wireless communications. Jamming comes to mind every time I hear a referee try to make a call when his transmitter does not work.

I'm not sure how frequencies are allocated during games but they must be secret. I'm also assuming any communications would be encrypted so listening in could be difficult. It would not be too hard to jam though if you think about it. You are given your frequency and just jam all of the others in the frequency range being used. When it comes to a referee making a call the jammer could temporarily turn the jamming transmitter off.

Looking back on a prior game it would be difficult to prove any kind of jamming of frequencies after the fact unless someone squealed. However, you can bet the NFL will be doing extensive real-time frequency monitoring (and recording) from this point forward.

I'm still a Patriots fan.

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Mark Viquesney said...

From what our local papers and sports talk radio is saying, the Patriots taped the signals in the first half. At half time they would look at the tape, and for the second half they would know what the signals ment. An example that the radio is saying is the Super Bowl versus the Eagles two years ago. During the first half, it was a very even match. But after half time - every time the Eagles blitz, the Patriots had called a screen pass. As one Eagle said, "I have never seen so many screens in a game ever." Neither had anyone else. Circumstancal evidence? Yes, but why you tape in the first half, and make adjustments in the second. Still, without good players, you can't win.

Karl Kapp said...

Gordon, cheating in one area makes me wonder if they are doing it in another area. I think the scandle taints all of the accomplishments of the Pats. However, and unfortunately, they now join a long line including Barry Bonds and the NBA...and Bill Clinton. Sad.

But the Steelers look good this year!

Anonymous said...

Update via -

Spygate revisited:

In the wake of the Spygate scandal involving New England coach Bill Belichick, there were accusations the Patriots may have manipulated radio frequencies during games in their stadium, ostensibly to disrupt the coach-to-quarterback radio communication for visiting teams.

Well, it happened to the Browns during their game on Oct. 7 in Foxboro, Mass.

A team source said Browns coaches lost communication with Anderson eight to 10 times.

None of the breakdowns occurred prior to any of Anderson's three interceptions in the game.