Deion Sanders Accuses Colts of Stealing Signals in Past; Tony Dungy Defends the Horseshoe

NFL Network analyst and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders recently accused past Indianapolis Colts teams of stealing defensive signals–presumably during the ‘Peyton Manning era’ of the franchise’s football.

Sanders’ statements were essentially said as justification to at least partially vindicate the New England Patriots for their role in ‘Spy-Gate’ (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk):

Oct 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Deion Sanders attends a NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Deion Sanders attends a NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“Those same critics, did they say anything about the wins that the Indianapolis Colts had?”, said Sanders. “You want to talk about that too? Because they were getting everybody’s signals.”

“Come on, you don’t walk up to the line and look over here and the man on the sideline giving you the defense that they’ve stolen the plays of. We all knew. L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) knew. Everybody in the NFL knew. We just didn’t let the fans know. That was real and that was happening in Indy.”

It didn’t take long for former head coach Tony Dungy to come to the Colts defense, saying that ‘stealing signs’ has been something that has been performed by every NFL team since the game’s inception (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk):

“I think we have to go back to what is cheating,” said Dungy. “People accusing us of cheating? I don’t think that’s the case. Stealing signals? You can go back to the 1800s in baseball, you can go anywhere there were signals done, and people were looking and watching and trying to get signals.”

“…My coach, Chuck Noll, was a messenger guard for Paul Brown in the ’50s because Paul Brown didn’t want to have to signal because people are going to watch them. So that’s what happens and it’s been done legally for years.”

Something that Sanders himself should already know, having played in the league for 14 seasons:

Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; NBC announcer Tony Dungy on set before a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; NBC announcer Tony Dungy on set before a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“Deion, I’m sure on every scouting report that he ever got, the first thing that’s on there on the defensive scouting reports, who is the live signal caller, who signals the personnel groups in,” added Dungy. “And that’s what happened.”

“…That’s all part of the game, but doing it legally and illegally, that’s the difference. I hope Deion is not saying we did something illegally. Of course we got signals when we had an opportunity to do that, and so did Deion.”

Dungy even recalled times which the Colts used ‘stealing signals’ to their advantage:

“We’re playing the Pittsburgh Steelers,” recalled Dungy. “I’m the coach of the Indianapolis Colts on a Monday night. Peyton Manning came to me before the game and said, ‘Bruce Arians used to be with us, is now coaching there, I know he’s told them our hand signals. I’m going to get them because I’m going to give a fake run signal and I know they’re going to bite because Bruce has told them our signals.’ And on the first play of the game, he gave a signal to Marvin Harrison, Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh’s corner, thought it was a run play, and it was an 82-yard touchdown.”

It’s not the first time that the Colts have been accused of wrongdoing, as former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio once made an unfounded accusation that Indianapolis had piped in crowd noise at the RCA Dome. With no evidence, that has been safely chalked up as a wild accusation under the label of ‘sour grapes’.

Of course, Sanders’ memory may still be recovering from severe burns he suffered during a Halloween game in 1999, when former Colts wide receiver great Marvin Harrison torched the fellow Hall of Famer for a 40-yard touchdown reception en route to Indianapolis’ 34-24 win.

Either way, it appears as though the Colts have done nothing differently than what any other NFL team has done for nearly the last century in regards to ‘stealing signals’ based on Dungy’s testimony.

At the end of the day, Dungy hit the nail on the head, when he said the clear difference between what the Colts and other teams have done and what the Patriots did regarding ‘Spy-Gate’:

“It wasn’t getting signals, it was the process of videotaping and using electronic equipment during the game,” concluded Dungy. 

Dungy knows better and so should Deion.

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