Watch Tower: Your Team Cheats Debunked on Behalf of Steelers Nation

Deflatgate is spurred the New England Patriots and their fans to fight back. Unable claim innocence, wish to claim “Everyone else does it” and thereby bring the rest of the NFL down into the muck with them.

Your Team Cheats” provides an example. Your Team Cheats attempts to rank instances of cheating across the league. Steelers Nation will not like their conclusions. Your Team Cheats charges that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the NFL’s 2nd worst cheats, after the Denver Broncos.

Your Team Cheats charges the Steelers with ten individual instances of cheating and includes the Steelers in four more league wide cheating allegations.

How well do their claims hold up? The Watch Tower takes a look.

Steelers vs Patriots, Your team cheats debunked, Your team cheats steelers debunked, mike tomlin, Bill Belichick

Mike Tomlin shakes hands with Bill Belichick shake hands after Steelers 2013 loss @ New England

Your Team Cheats Strongest Arguments Against Steelers

Your Team Cheats’ best argument against the Steelers comes in the case of Dr. Richard Rydze who was charged with distributing steroids, human growth hormone and other illegal substances. Dr. Richard Rydze was a Steelers team doctor from 1985 to 2007.

The blunt truth is that this story has been underreported both in Pittsburgh and nationally, something which was to be (and might still become) the focus of a Watch Tower column

  • Having a doctor on staff for over 20 years who gets busted for steroid distribution looks very bad and his exact role with the Steelers deserves greater investigation.

Yet, Your Team Cheats fails to break ground here and provides no evidence whatsoever that Dr. Rydze was involved in distributing steroids to members of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead the site simply links to other pages on the site.

One of those does site Paul Wiggins and Joel Steed’s substance abuse violations, but fails to mention that Steed was using an over-the-counter supplement which happened to contain banned ingredients.

Your Team Cheats brings “Shoulderpadgate” or the Steelers illegal off season use of shoulder pads in 1978, a violation for which the Steelers were docked a third round pick. Really, there’s little to dispute here.

  • The Steelers broke the rules, got caught and were punished.

However, the one can question the tone of Your Team Cheats conclusions as current ESPN reporter John Clayton broke the story, and while the Steelers weren’t happy about it, Art Rooney Sr. later complemented him on it, and Clayton built a strong relationship with Noll afterwards (and Noll was not known for his warm media relations.)

  • The Watch Tower takes no issue with Your Team Cheats assessment of Emmanuel Sanders getting fined for faking cramps.

Likewise, one cannot quibble about Your Team Cheats on Mike Tomlin’s sideline stutter step vs. Baltimore in 2013. Intentionally or unintentionally, Mike Tomlin clearly broke the rules. But, to be blunt, had Your Team Cheats done more thorough research, the site could have made a stronger case.

That’s the downside of doing selective or at least incomplete research, which as the Watch Tower will make clear, seems to be the MO of Your Team Cheats.

Your Team Cheats Empty Arguments Against the Steelers

Your Team Cheats makes a number of bogus claims against the Steelers when it comes to cheating.

First, Your Team Cheats levies 5 cheating points against the Steelers for incidents of illegal hits. The idea of including illegal hits into an analysis of cheating is inane, because there’s a big difference between making a hit in a heat of a game that happens to be illegal and premeditated deliberate rule breaking.

Your Team Cheats summary of the Steelers cheating includes entries for Tampergate, Headsetgate, Spygate, and Scrapsgate. Note, the site doesn’t add “cheat points” to the Steelers score for these instances and adds no evidence whatsoever that the Steelers participated in any of these, aside from Bill Cowher’s statement that the Steelers would try to decode opposing team’s signals (without the use of illegal video.)

Your Team Cheats could, for example, cite a single case where the Steelers signed a recently cut or a practice squad player of an upcoming opponent, but fails to do so (in part, because the Steelers don’t do that.)

But that’s what Your Team Cheats would do if the site were a legitimate investigation into NFL rules infractions. But not the objective, instead the site’s objective is to suggest guilt by association.

Your Team Cheats on Steroids and the Steelers of the 70’s

Your Team Cheats makes a big deal about steroid use by the Steelers of the 70’s. Let’s be clear on something:

  • Members of the Super Steelers used steroids.

No one can dispute that. A handful of players have admitted to it. Steve Courson suggested before his death that there were many more members who needed to fess up.

To bolster its case, Your Team Cheats recycles comments by Jim Hasslett and Fran Tarkenton. He even recycles Hasllets hackneyed charge that the Steelers of the 70’s were “the ones who kind of started” use of steroids in the NFL.

  • That’s a damming quote.

It’s also inaccurate. The use of steroids in pro football dates back to at least 1963, when Sid Gillman’s strength coach Alvin Roy actively encouraged his players to use Dianabol and went as far as put them on the team’s training table in cereal bowls.

  • Use of steroids in pro football began long before Chuck Noll ever drafted his first player for the Steelers.

Your Team Cheats directly suggests that steroid use taints the Steelers 4 Super Bowl victories. Were the Steelers the only NFL team using steroids in the 1970’s? Your Team Cheats doesn’t say that, but the use of the Hasslett quote implies that the Steelers were somehow responsible for league-wide steroid use in the 70’s.

Both Jim Hasslett and Randy White (the later quoted in Gary Pomerantz’s Their Life’s Work) claim how their assumptions that the Steelers of the 70’s were using steroids prompted them to begin using…
…So if a high school guy starts drinking underage after getting dumped a girl who is also an underage drinker is the ex-girlfriend then to blame?

I daresay not, and steroid use in the NFL cannot be pinned on the Super Steelers.

  • Your Team Cheats gives the Steelers 7.0 “cheat points” for the use of steroids in the 70’s.

There’s a problem with that. Steroids were not banned by the NFL nor were they even illegal until the 1980’s.

  • Use of steroids is wrong on so many levels. Both the members of the Super Steelers as well as their opponents were wrong to use steroids in the 70’s.

But that doesn’t change the fact that if steroids weren’t illegal, then using them cannot be considered cheating.

Your Team Cheats on the Steelers and the 1975 AFC Championship Game

Were Al Davis still alive, it would be possible, and perhaps even plausible to suggest that he was Your Team Cheats source here. This story is part of Steeler-Raiders lore. The tarp covering the field at Three Rivers Stadium the night before the 1975 AFC Championship game tore, causing parts of the field to be icy.

The winter winds in Pittsburgh get pretty wicked. Tarps do tear, and water does freeze when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Al Davis argument is that the tear was intentional, that the Steelers iced down the sidelines to weaken the Raiders deep passing game.

  • This debate is ancient history, and only gets rehashed by Raider apologists

Your team cheats justification for toeing the Al Davis line boils down to “A groundskeeper who’s nickname is “Dirt” is always on top of his field conditions.” Ergo Steelers grounds keeper Dirt Dinardo did it. With an airtight case like that, is it any wonder this didn’t make it to the Supreme Court? One might suppose that, given the uncanny accuracy of his weather reports, longtime WTAE weatherman Joe DeNardo is also responsible for the wind, rain and cold in Pittsburgh that night.

  • The entire logic behind Al Davis’excuse making is fundamentally flawed.

Changes to field conditions impacted the Steelers as much as the Raiders. The Steelers could not hurt the Raiders deep passing game without hurting their own. In 1975 Lynn Swann averaged 15.9 yards per catch, Frank Lewis 18.1 yards per catch, and John Stallworth 21.2 yards per catch…

Yeah, the Steelers strategy was to keep Terry Bradshaw from going deep.

Your Team Cheats on the Steelers and Salarycapgate

Perhaps Your Team Cheats most egregious entry on the Steelers involves “Salarcapgate” which relates to an incident in 1998 that ultimately led the Steelers to lose their 3rd round draft pick in 2001.

  • The facts here are well known, and that’s why Your Team Cheats sleight of hand is so apparent here.

Although he never made a Pro Bowl, for nearly 10 years John Jackson protected Bubby Brister, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak and Kordell Stewart’s blindsides. When he became a free agent in 1998, the San Diego Chargers made Jackson the highest paid offensive lineman in the league at the time.

  • The Steelers opted not to over pay.

Near the end of preseason it was clear the Steelers had no one to play right tackle, so Bill Cowher moved Justin Strzelczyk to the right side and moved guard Will Wolford to left tackle. Wolford’s original contract had called for him to be paid an additional $400,000 should he play tackle instead guard. Unfortunately page of the contract containing that clause got left off and was never filed with the league.

Will Wolford’s agent remembered brought it to Dan Rooney’s attention who also remembered the original agreement, and the Steelers honored their word and paid Wolford. Knowing that this money needed to be accounted for, the Steelers turned themselves in to the league office. The league investigated, and took away the Steelers 2001 third round draft pick.

  • This isn’t want you’ll read on Your Team Cheats, however.

Your Team Cheats cites an article from the New York Times and the Bangor Daily News (that lifeblood of NFL information) and tells readers:

The league determined that the Steelers made an undisclosed commitment to pay Wolford $400,000 that violated the league’s rules governing the size of team payrolls. The Steelers were ordered to pay Wolford the $400,000 and another $150,000 to the league as a penalty.

  • How sinister of the Steelers! They both made an “undisclosed commitment to pay Wolford $400,000” AND were “ordered”” to pay the $400,000 to Wolford.

Through all of this, Your Team Cheats neglects to tell readers that, far from trying to hide something, the Steelers turned themselves in to the NFL! Nor does he tell readers that the Steelers also took a $400,000 salary cap hit, while the 49ers avoided taking a similar salary cap hit for a more extensive case of salary cap cheating just 8 months later.

In all fairness, there’s a lot of information on the Steelers salary cap incident with Will Wolford which doesn’t instantly pop up when you Google it. But that’s no excuse, as a little extra digging did produce the links referenced above.

Your Team Cheats Debunked by Shoddy Research and Selective Use of Facts

When held up to the Watch Tower’s light, most of Your Team Cheat charges against the Steelers fail to stick. What could have been an honest assessment of rules infractions in the NFL instead turns into a gigantic attempt at guilt by association.

  • While Your Team Cheats uses links and discusses methodology in an attempt to add an air of objectivity to its findings, its research and application of the facts is selective at worst and incomplete at best.

For example, the New York Giants were founded in 1925 and the Baltimore Ravens were established in 1996. Yet they both have cheating scores of 35. That math simply doesn’t add up. Likewise, Your Team Cheats analysis of the Washington Redskins fails to take into account something which was once a stable of franchise policy which could be considered “cheating” at least by the site’s overly broad standards.

For the record, with Your Team Cheats debunked by the Watch Tower on behalf of Steelers Nation, the author of the site doesn’t seem to have any particular axe to grind against the Steelers. Rather Your Team Cheats is simply another site engaging in the 19th “art” of muckraking.

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17 thoughts on “Watch Tower: Your Team Cheats Debunked on Behalf of Steelers Nation

  1. Just an FYI – YourTeamCheats is speculated to be run by New England fans, based upon the glaring NE omissions, and the over-penalization of their key rivals and big-game defeats. The top-4 “cheating” franchises are Denver, NY Jets, Pittsburgh and the NY Giants.

    In any event – whoever runs the site has paid to keep their identity private through domain proxies and withheld information.

    • Thanks, I did not know that. Your team cheats certainly does appear to be an effort by Patriot fans or who knows, Patriot fans.

      • It’s absolutely done by Patriots’ fans..everyone in the world seems to think the Pats are the ONLY team to “Cheat,” and this site merely sheds light on all the violations the other teams throughout the league have committed, whether there’s hard proof or not (because there certainly isn’t any proof in deflategate, but that didn’t stop the league from handing out its discipline). The fact of the matter is that every single team in the league cheats, but only the team that is dominating all the others is getting punished for in order to recreate parity throughout the league.

        • Jason,

          That makes sense. I never paid attention to their social media presence. I remember when the site launched, there was some suggestion that the site was backed by the Patriots itself. I’d really have to see hard proof before believing that but clearly the site is led by Patriots homers.

          As I pointed out, there are a couple of three instances where their arguments against the Steelers could have been stronger and with just a little research, they’d have found that out.

          But they weren’t interested in that, only interested in apologizing for the Patriots.

          Thanks for contributing.

          • Yes, Steve Courson’s story is well known.

            Not sure of your point. No one denies that some members of the Steelers of the 70’s used steroids. No one, at least no one on this site endorses or defends steroid usage. The point in this article is three-fold:

            1. Members of the Steelers of the 70’s used steroids. They were hardly the first pro football team have players who used steroids. Chad Millman and Shawn Coyne detailed that steroids were distributed on breakfast tables at some teams’ training camps as early as the 1960’s.
            2. There’s no evidence to suggest that steroid usage in Pittsburgh was any heavier than in any other NFL city.
            3. While steroid usage was, is and will always remain “wrong,” steroid usage was not banned by the NFL in the 1970’s, nor was it a violation of federal law at the time.

    • The fact of the matter is that you people just can’t handle anyone shining the light on your team’s discrepancies like everyone seems to love to TRY to do with the Patriots…there’s still ZERO proof that the Patriots ever cheated in the 2 (Deflategate & Spygate) of the 3 most publicized scandals in the history of the NFL, yet they’ve been punished with the forfeiture of draft picks BOTH times – it’s proof that both were merely ploys to hinder the natural development of the Patriots as the most dominant team since 2001, and to return the league to parity. The average fan is too ignorant to actually do any of the research on their own, so they simply buy into whatever it is the media is spewing at the time, therefore making it TOO easy for the league to use the media to convict them in the court of public opinion. It’s pathetic, and Brady has done nothing but prove all the allegations against him wrong in the first 4 games of this season. Deflategate? Give me a break.

      • Actually I’m a patriots fan and I agree with you on the deflate gate thing but it’s absolutely untrue with the spy gate thing because that was verified to be true but it was a over exaggeration on what happened, in the nfl the teams are allowed to film the other team but they have to be inside the room that’s designated, the member of the Patriots staff was near the room but was outside of it

        • Thanks for your thoughtful reply Jonny,

          ESPN wrote a very detailed article on Spygate. I don’t have the link handy, but if you Google it, you can find it.

          The case is pretty persuasive.

          Ironically, it seems like a lot of the NFL’s case in Deflategate overplayed to say the least. This doesn’t mean I buy that nothing wrong was done, rather I think that it shows that the Patriots just got exposed to the flip side of Roger Goodell’s arbitrary, Kangaroo Court style justice.

          You can see it on display with the kicker from the Giants who has apparently had domestic violence issues and appeared to get different treatment than others.

    • If you click the ‘Follow on Twitter’ link, or go to their Twitter page, all pictures are Patriots/Brady pictures and confirm this.

  2. You do realize that using video equipment in order to “Steal” signals is not illegal, right!? It has never been illegal to videotape another team’s signals, and still isn’t – you just can’t do so in order to give yourself an advantage during the game, and it must be done from certain indoor areas, not from the sideline. EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE LEAGUE (yes, including the steelers) videotapes the games, as well as the signals being given on the sidelines, because it’s perfectly legal! And it was STILL LEGAL to do so from the sidelines in 2007 when the Patriots did it – it wasn’t against the rules at that point – the league had merely sent out a MEMO telling the team’s not to do it – that doesn’t make it a rule! The commissioner doesn’t have the authority to change a rule, especially via a memo! Rules changes are made as a result of owner votes done in their meetings in the offseason. Spygate was simply Goodell being butthurt that Belichick dared to defy his orders, and the penalties levied on the Patriots for it were absolutely ridiculous, and simply meant to reacquire parity throughout the league.

    Oh, and all your bitching about things posted on lacking evidence is fucking ridiculous, too! There was absolutely NO evidence that deflategate was caused by anything but the weather – in fact, there was more evidence that weather DID cause it than there was that it was done by Brady or the Pats’ organization that was coincidentally left out of the “independent” Wells Report (until it was debunked) – including the fact that the Colts’ balls were deflated as well. The fact of the matter is that if “It’s more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware” is enough to indict, and punish him, then it’s more than enough to accuse the Steelers of anything that has been documented on them, whether there’s hard evidence in support of it or not!

    Don’t dish it out if you can’t handle taking it in return.

  3. And, I’m also still waiting to see how you’ve “Debunked”…as stated above, all I’m seeing is a bunch of “This happened, but…they could have done more research and made their argument stronger…yeah, the Steelers broke the rules and were punished, so what?” So what!? That’s the entire fucking point of the site: to shed light on other teams’ controversies, whether they were actually against the rules or not (because Spygate was NOT against the rules, but that didn’t stop the league and media from punishing the Patriots, even to this day)…if it was deemed “Shady” at the time, it’s listed on the site! Your team cheats – get over it, Steelers Nation!

    • Nice rant Joel. Hope you feel better now.

      For someone who seems so sure of himself and his team, you seem a tad bit defensive.

      Suffice to say, there is ample proof that that New England Patriots knowingly cheated in both Spygate, and Headsetgate. (Really, if the video taping was legal, then why would they give the video tapers fake NFL Films T-shirts and tell them to lie if they were asked about what they were doing this taping and who they were working for.)

      Yourteamcheats is based on shoddy research and cherry picking of the facts. As I pointed out in a number of cases, had the writers bothered to do better research, their case against the Steelers in a couple of incidents could have been far stronger. But that’s what happens when you try to rig an investigation.

      To suggest that there are more alleged incidents of cheating by the Baltimore Ravens than the New York Giants is laughable.

      And yes, the fact is that when the Pittsburgh Steelers have been caught breaking the rules, they take their punishment like men. Heck, they even turned themselves in for a salary cap violation, something that is well documented that yourteamcheats either didn’t bother to uncover or deliberately failed to mention.

      And you know what?

      Its all a crying shame, because the Patriots shouldn’t NEED to cheat.

      Billy B’s turnaround for a bumbling idiot of a coach for the Browns to what he’s done in New England should be one of the greatest turn around stories in football, if not all sports. And Tom Brady’s body of work, with or without under inflated balls, puts him up there with Unitas and Montana. Every time the Patriots have beaten the Steelers, Steel Curtain Rising has been firmly on the record submitting that New England was the better team.

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