- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Somehow, and I’m still trying to figure exactly how, the New Orleans Saints have been dragged into yet another controversy.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was doing an interview with a local radio station Tuesday morning. Harbaugh was asked a question about the Saints’ bounty program and the general concept of cheating throughout the NFL.
Harbaugh didn’t say a thing about the Saints. Instead, he turned his answer toward the New England Patriots, who had their own controversy with Spygate several years ago.
“In the end, everything is brought before the light of day, when it’s all said and done,” Harbaugh said in the interview. “What happens, even the thing in New England, no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now. It’s been stained."
That set off a firestorm in New England, and the Ravens quickly moved into damage-control mode. The Ravens just sent out a statement from Harbaugh. Although the Saints didn’t get mentioned in his on-air words, they do get mentioned in Harabaugh’s latest statement.
“While on the 98 Rock show this morning to talk about the run to honor O.J. Brigance and raise funds for ALS research, I answered a question about playing within the rules and referred to the perception that the Super Bowl championships won by the Patriots and Saints have a stain,’’ Harbaugh said. “My reference was to the perception out there that came as the result of the league’s actions. I could have been more clear that I was referring to those viewpoints. I totally believe that the Patriot and Saint coaches and players earned those championships. Bill (Belichick) and Sean (Payton) both know that. There has been some distortion about what I said.
“The original tweet indicated I pointed the finger at Bill Belichick and mentioned Bill’s name. I did not. I have so much respect for Coach Belichick and the job he does and has accomplished in his Hall of Fame career. I called him to remind him of my respect for him. I also reached out to Tedy Bruschi, who rightfully defended those Patriot players and coaches on ESPN, to tell him that I agree with him that the Patriots earned every victory.”