New Orleans is gearing up for Super Bowl XLVII and fans can only hope it lives up to the drama of the last Big Game played in the Crescent City. In that 2002 classic, the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams on a last-second field goal - an improbable upset that earned praise for young quarterback Tom Brady and defensive coaching guru Bill Belichick. But a decade later, former Rams running back Marshall Faulk wonders if other forces were at play.
"Am I over the loss? Yeah, I'm over the loss," Faulk told CSNNE.com's Tom Curran on Tuesday. "But I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That's a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl; that's fine ... But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them. But if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don't burn 'em."
Faulk was referring to the original "Spygate" scandal, in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell investigated reports that then-Patriots employee Matt Walsh was present at the Rams' walkthrough in the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXVI.
But Goodell said he never found evidence that New England had taped the St. Louis walkthrough, and he destroyed the tapes that he had confiscated as part of the investigation.
"The reason I destroyed the tapes is they were totally consistent with what the team told me," Goodell said in 2008. "It was the appropriate thing to do, and I think it sent a message. The actual effectiveness of taping and taking of signals from opponents -- it is something done widely in many sports. I think it probably had limited if any effect on the outcome of games. That doesn't change my perspective on violating rules and the need to be punished."
"Spygate," of course, would resurface a few years later when Belichick and the Patriots were fined $750,000 and docked a first-round draft pick for videotaping New York Jets' coaches relay defensive signals in 2007.
But Faulk, who rushed for 76 yards and was held scoreless in Super Bowl XXXVI, thinks the Patriots' shady scheming may have played a role in the NFL title game.
"I understand Bill [Belichick] is a great coach," Faulk told Curran. "But No. 13 [Kurt Warner] will tell you ... Mike Martz will tell you ... We had some plays in the red zone that we hadn't ran. I think we got to fourth down -- we ran three plays that we hadn't ran, that Mike drew up for that game. Bill's a helluva coach ... we hadn't ran them the whole year [and the Patriots were ready for them]."
He said the only time the Rams practiced those plays was at the walkthrough.
Faulk, a New Orleans native who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2011, compared "Spygate" to "Bountygate" - a topic that is still simmering in the Super Bowl's host city.
"... But am I bitter about how that went? Am I bitter about how the league handled them taping people? If Bountygate was that bad and [Saints coach] Sean [Payton] got suspended for a whole year? If we want to talk about some unfair assessment of how we're assessing things? Man. If you lost a game and your brother cheated you," Faulk said, "you'll remember that."