In baseball, stealing signs is a big no-no. It's not explicitly stated in the rulebook, but it's well known at every level that it should never be done -- even if it happens every now and then.
In the NFL, swiping signals from the other team's sideline is a bit of a gray area. Obviously, you can't do it with video equipment, but watching the opposing coaches isn't a rule-breaker.
That's Tony Dungy's stance, at least. Dungy was called out by Deion Sanders for stealing signals with the Colts during a discussion of the New England Patriots' success on NFL Network.
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"Those same critics, did they say anything about the wins that the Indianapolis Colts had? You want to talk about that too? Because they were getting everybody's signals," Sanders said. "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. knew. Everybody in the NFL knew."
Dungy responded to Sanders' accusations on ProFootballTalk Live Wednesday by saying everyone does it, and it's been done for a long, long time -- all the way back to the early days of football.
"I think we have to go back to what is cheating," Dungy said. "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. Back in the early days of football the quarterbacks called the plays and the middle linebackers called the defenses and there was no signaling."
Only, Dungy and his coaching staff didn't do it illegally, according to the former NFL coach. They stayed within the confines of the rulebook.
"When coaches decided they wanted to call plays you had to find ways to get the information in and there were people watching," he continued. "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."
Dungy continuously stood by his declaration that stealing signs is done by everyone -- the Colts just did it legally.
He even stated that Deion Sanders stole signs during his days, and it's simply a part of the NFL.
"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."
Of course, Dungy's claims immediately bring up thoughts about Spygate, when the Patriots illegally filmed other team's signals with video equipment. He explained the difference
"It wasn't getting signals, it was the process of videotaping and using electronic equipment during the game," Dungy said, comparing what the Patriots did to what other teams do.