Former Panthers general manager and current ESPN Radio host Marty Hurney joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss Deflategate and his history dealing with the Patriots. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Hurney, who ran the Panthers during their loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 38 in 2004, discussed his recent comments on ESPN questioning the Pats‘ history with rule-breaking. He got some attention after bringing up unsubstantiated allegations about the Patriots taping a Panthers practice leading up to that Super Bowl.
“If it was anybody but the Patriots, it wouldn’t have been this big a story,” Hurney said of Deflategate. “My point was there are a lot of rumors around the league from 2001 to 2007. And you’re right, you know what? The Patriots won that game; we lost it. There’s a lot of things we could have done to win that game.
“And one of the bad things that I don’t like about what I said was it comes out and makes me sounds like I’m a sore loser. I’m the last guy that wants to take accomplishments away from players and coaches because I know how hard it is to win the game. You look at the Patriots, they have pretty much of a shoo-in of a Hall of Fame coach and Hall of Fame quarterback. I wasn’t trying to take anything away from that.
“I guess what I’m saying is when these things come up they raise questions that normally wouldn’t be raised.”
Added Hurney: “Before this Deflategate thing you would say, hey, Bill Belichick is a detail guy, he’s a good coach, he enforces it every day, it’s a product of good coaching. And that’s still the reason. But human nature, when you connect the two to Deflategate and then those statistics, human nature makes you just ask the question.”
Hurney insists that his comments were overblown and, ‘I never accused the Patriots of everything, but when something happens …”
Said Hurney: “I’m not trying to say, ‘Hey, everybody else is good and the Patriots are the evil empire.’ I’m not saying that. But what I am saying is that when this came up again and there were rumors over a period of time, you start to say, ‘Hey, is this a pattern of behavior?’ ”
Hurney said the Panthers’ close loss to New England in that Super Bowl still leaves him frustrated.
“That’s why you’re in this league, to win a Super Bowl, And when you come that close, you think about it all the time,” he said.
Asked about whispers he heard about possible Patriots’ misdeeds, Hurney said: “There were a lot of rumors, OK, but what you have to ask yourself is when a team’s successful, you know that’s one of the byproducts that you have, whether it’s envy or jealously, whatever it is, you have to be careful. That’s why there are rumors.”
Added Hurney: “I think when you’re successful like the Patriots are, a certain amount of that comes. And that’s why I was very careful to say it’s just rumors and allegations. And I understand that I come off as a guy that, ‘Hey, he’s just a sore loser, he can’t handle it.’ But there were a lot of rumors just about things that the Patriots might do — the communications, a lot of different things. I’m not saying they were true at all.”
Hurney was complimentary of Bill Belichick’s Saturday press conference, in which the Patriots coach defended his team and organization.
“When Bill Belichick got up and said — and this is paraphrasing, but basically said, ‘We abided 100 percent by the rules for many years.’ I needed to hear that. I was glad he said that. And I believe that. Until proven otherwise, I believed him,” Hurney said. “I like the way he got up Saturday and addressed that and addressed the issue.”
Added Hurney: “I think that was a big help, to get up there and speak the way he did. … You could hear the passion in his voice. I thought that was an excellent press conference.”
Hurney added his desire to put Deflategate aside and focus on what is shaping up to be an appealing game.
“I want to talk about the game, I want to talk about football. I don’t like talking about these type of things,” Hurney said, adding: “This is one of the best matchups in the Super Bowl I can think about for years, because these really are the two teams that you look at as the gold standard right now in the National Football League. So that’s what we should all be concentrating on at this point.”
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