Friday, February 01, 2008

More shocking football cheating!

Mike Francesa and Chris Russo talked with NFL Film's Steve Sabol on Thursday afternoon, and the topic of the Patriots' "spygate" game up. Sabol clearly didn't think it was a big deal, and shared a fantastic story about George Halas and the Bears.

For those who still want to maintain a state of high moral dudgeon that the Patriots would dare to film the opposing sideline, here's a transcript (the show can be heard here and the relevant section starts about 7 minutes in):
CR: Speaking of the espionage, was it possible to link up all the things that he was gonna do in that Jet game

SS: Nah...

CR: ...where he's gonna link up down and distance with formations...

SS: You know, that's a whole 'nother discussion, that this has been going on, this gaining an edge. If you give me a minute...

MF: Go ahead.

SS: George Halas, in the early 60's, the way you would study your opponent was exchanging game films, that's the way you would... So what Halas did, for two years, was that he would have two cameramen film the game. The way that I found out about this was when there was a fire in the Bears office, Halas called me up and said, "well, you guys save it, you can keep all this film." So we got buckets and baskets of this old film, we put it on - half of it was out of focus. What's going on here? How could you use this? It was all out of focus.

CR: That was his idea.

SS: Well, it laid there until finally Abe Gibron came by when he was scounting for the Seahawks. And we just go out to dinner and I said, "Abe, what about..." And he starts laughing. "Oh, you got the visitor's film."

So what Halas was doing, he'd hire two cameramen, one would shoot the game out of focus, and the other would shoot in focus, and he would send the out of focus to the next week's opponent. And Allie Sherman or someone would say, "hey, what's this, it's terrible." And Halas would say, "oh, yeah, that damn cameraman, I'm gonna fire the guy, he stinks."

And finally when Ken Cavanaugh went to the Giants and they played the Bears, it was in '61 or '62, Cavanaugh said, "I'm gonna talk to the old man and say, Hey George, knock off the crap with this out of focus - send us the real stuff." And that was the end of that.

But nobody made - I mean, here's the father of our game, purposely filming the game out of focus and sending it as the coaching tape to the other team.


It's a good listen (Sabol's always good, and he's been at every important NFL event since the Super Bowl era began), an amusing story, and, perhaps, a different perspective that some people might consider...

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