By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sorry, President Trump. But the term “Spygate” — or, if you’d prefer, “SPYGATE” — is already taken. The team didn’t ask for it, and nobody in New England likes it, but history states that “Spygate” belongs to a specific incident in the history of the Patriots.
That’s relevant on Wednesday, because President Donald Trump sent off a tweetstorm about the FBI allegedly surveilling his campaign during his run-up to the presidency. And in the midst of that tweetstorm, he used the dreaded “S” word that Patriots fans hate to hear.
Quickly, “Spygate” became a trending topic. And, Twitter being Twitter, the responses were pretty much what you’d expect.
As background: “Spygate,” as it came to be known, arose when New York Jets head coach and former Patriots assistant coach Eric Mangini ordered Patriots staffers to be removed from the field area after they had been filming Jets coaches signaling plays on the field. Such filming was only allowable from specific locations in the stadium, not from the field itself. The removal led to an NFL investigation, during which the Patriots built the foundation for the first-ever 16-0 regular season in NFL history. Bill Belichick was eventually fined for the practice, and the team was fined and penalized a first-round draft pick.
Later, prior to the Patriots’ appearance in Super Bowl XLII against the Giants, a Boston Herald reporter claimed that the Patriots filmed the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002. The Herald later retracted that story and said the information was false. Nevertheless, the contents of that report have largely come to define “Spygate” for football fans around the country — and major sports networks.
Or, in the case of some people, the entirety of the story gets mish-mashed together to the point where you conclude that the Patriots filmed Eagles practices and also … filmed a random Jets practice?
Such is the lasting legacy of Spygate, all of which was swirled up on Wednesday morning by a single tweet from the President of the United States of America.
He used to be a huge supporter of Tom Brady, too, but that relationship seems to have cooled since Brady skipped the Patriots’ White House visit — a visit which led to Trump not mentioning the game’s MVP even once by name.
And the latest chapter of the Trump-Belichick-Kraft-Brady story involves the beloved/hated term of “Spygate.” Let’s all hope nothing involving air pressure happens near the president in the coming days. With Brady and Rob Gronkowski already skipping OTAs, a rehash of Spygate and DeflateGate in the same week might be too much for New England to take.