Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Saturday, November 20, 2010
Colts afraid Patriots bug their locker room?

By Tim Graham

An item in Peter King's latest "Game Plan" column at SI.com reveals the Colts have been suspicious for years that the Patriots bug the visitors' locker room at Gillette Stadium.

King wrote Peyton Manning and former offensive coordinator Tom Moore used to leave the locker room and discuss strategy in the corridor.

In his inimitable way, Comcast SportsNet New England columnist Tom E. Curran wondered whether that's a plausible concern or simply worthy of ridicule.

Curran writes:
It would seem the Patriots employ a legion of spies, deploying them with all manner of monitoring devices. When intel is gathered, it all runs through Ernie Adams who then -- just before game-time -- distills and downloads that information to the coaching staff who are then armed with the opposing team's plans and able to scrap their week's preparation to adjust to the newly discovered stuff.

Or, the Patriots are sufficiently in the heads of their opposition to cause them to suspect such things.

I'm down with the latter option.

Before you go about tut-tutting my reaction and harp on the Spygate scandal, bugging a locker room would be unethical times 30. The Patriots video-taped their opponents outside the rules, but in plain sight of the opposing team. Herm Edwards was seen waving at the Patriots' cameras in tapes turned over to the NFL.

Bugging the locker room? That's a team saying "Since we don't have a Dick LeBeau, let's pull a Louis LeBeau from 'Hogan's Heroes' and eavesdrop through the teapot."

Surreptitiously eavesdropping on your opponent would be recklessly stupid. Teams employ their own security details, and these guys aren't rent-a-cops.

Jets vice president of security Steve Yarnell, for instance, is a former FBI special agent who worked on such high-profile cases as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the crash of TWA Flight 800. Browns senior vice president Lewis Merletti was director of the Secret Service after serving in the presidential protective division for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

NFL security chiefs have the wherewithal to find a surveillance device. Imagine the scandal if, on a whim, a visiting team decided to conduct a sweep of their locker room with a detection device.

That's why I seriously doubt the Colts must pretend like they're smoking cigarettes while they converse in hushed tones, a la Nicky Santoro and Frank Marino in "Casino."