Chargers Thought Peyton Manning Was Reading Their Defensive Signals
The biggest scandal of the 2007 NFL season was the discovery by the New York Jets that the New England Patriots were videotaping their defensive signals. In the end, the Patriots were docked a first-round draft pick, and coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000.
But while every NFL player and coach now knows the league will deal harshly with the taping of signals, that doesn't mean signal stealing has stopped. In fact, during last night's Colts-Chargers playoff game, NBC announcer John Madden said the Chargers were convinced that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had stolen their signals when the two teams played in November.
"Last time they used a lot of hand signals, and Ron Rivera, the defensive coordinator for the Chargers, thought that Peyton Manning had their signals," Madden said. "So this time they're trying to go without signals, or if they do, they've changed their signals. Now he's talking directly to middle linebacker Stephen Cooper."
As Mike Florio writes at Pro Football Talk, even if the Chargers were correct, Manning wouldn't necessarily be breaking any NFL rules by reading their signals. The Patriots broke the rules by taping signals, but if Manning figured out the Chargers' signals without the benefit of videotape, the NFL doesn't consider that cheating.
And Madden doesn't seem to think Manning is cheating either. Madden's on-air partner, Al Michaels, referred to it as "paranoia-gate," and Madden replied, "I think you're partly right. You say, how much of that is true? Peyton Manning knows a lot of things, but knowing all your defenses and signals? I think part of it is Peyton Manning being smart, the other part is paranoia."