Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy says that teams have been stealing opponents signals for years legally and there is a difference between that and intentionally breaking the rules.
Dungy responded to accusations made by NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders saying that the Indianapolis Colts stole defensive signals and that people in the NFL knew about it but did nothing to stop it.
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“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,” Sanders is quoted as saying.
Dungy says stealing signals have been going on since the beginning of organized sports.
“I think we have to go back to what is cheating,” Dungy said to Pro Football Talk. “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.”
Dungy, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, coached the Colts for seven seasons, winning a Super Bowl after the 2006 season. He retired from coaching two seasons later and now works as an analyst for NBC.
Dungy referenced a Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 where the team thought that former Colts assistant Bruce Arians told his new team the Colts' signals. In the first quarter of that game, a signal was given to receiver Marvin Harrison and Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor though it was a run, and the play was actually a pass that went for 80 yards and a touchdown.
“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,” Dungy said. “Of course we got signals when we had an opportunity to do that, and so did Deion.”