View Full Version : Shanahan Admits to Stealing Signs

09-12-2007, 06:50 PM

For good times, there's nothing like inviting a car full of lip-readers over to watch Sunday's NFL games.

Lipreading is a feverish topic in the NFL these days. Coaches are covering their mouths when they send in plays because they're suspicious that thieves are watching. The coaches look like they had onions for lunch or just graduated from the Istanbul Spy Institute. "We hear rumors all the time about [opposing] coaches hiring guys to read our lips," says Cardinals offensive coordinator Rich Olson.

It's no rumor, pal. "Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game," says Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter."

Giants coach Jim Fassel thinks it's all lip service. "If someone is that smart," Fassel grouses, "he should be curing cancer, not coaching football."

To check it out, I hired three lip-readers, all women, all football fans and all either hearing impaired or profoundly deaf, to come by the house last weekend. Nice people. They didn't even complain when my younger son tried to sign good morning, but wound up signing screw you instead.

The first game was the Colts' easy win over the Broncos, and the one guy who should've covered his mouth was not a coach but a player, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning. He's Dudley Do-Right in public, but on the field Manning seems to have the vocabulary of a dyspeptic carnival employee. The lip-readers counted nine televised f---s, many dammits, and, once, just for variety's sake, a f-----' dammit!

In the first quarter, after a replay had overturned an apparent touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Manning was seen to say, disgustedly, "Why'd they show the f-----' replay?" When a running back short-armed his screen pass, he yelled, "F-----' get in there!"

After the game, when our correspondent went to the locker room and told Manning the lip-readers had nailed him, Manning took the stringer's cell phone and called me.

"They got me, huh?" he said, dejectedly.

"Nine times," I said.

"Man, I don't like to use that kind of language. I hate for the kids to see that stuff. But you forget the camera is on you, you know? It just pops out. Nine times? My mother is going to call and reprimand me for that."

Lip-readers are more fun than naked Jell-O fights. One time an unidentified Colts fan went up to the Broncos' ubiquitous Barrel Man and said, apparently, "Hey, we can get you some pants!" Now that's the new American spirit shining through.

(For kicks, we watched a replay of the Rose Bowl game. The camera zeroed in on a gorgeous blonde who smiled and appeared to say something vaguely sexy to her friend. Turns out, the lip-reader says, it was, "Is there something gross on my face?" Sometimes life's better without a sound track.)

The next game was the Jets' 24-22 win over the Raiders, in which we found out Oakland coach Jon Gruden has a mouth he shouldn't kiss his mother with. He also has one that's easier to read than a stop sign. Most of the time he made no effort to cover his lips, which meant the lip-readers could read what plays he was sending in. Once, they read him saying, "Left side, 290, radical," and it went for a left-side touchdown pass to tight end Roland Williams. When our correspondent asked Williams after the game if that was, indeed, the name of the play, Williams's eyes got big, and he said, "Where'd you get that?"

It is a very odd feeling to have three hearing-impaired women telling you what play the Raiders will run next. If Fassel didn't believe it before, you think he does now?

Even when Gruden tried to cover his mouth, he did it two inches too low and with his play card, so that an entire side of plays could be read easily by any schlub with a TV set and a zoom button. Hey, nobody said football coaches were Mensa members.

All in all, despite the rampant profanity, I decided there are three major advantages for hearing-impaired NFL fans:

a) They have access to a part of the game that's unknown to most of us.

b) They gain a new appreciation for its verbal intensity.

c) They never have to listen to Jerry Glanville.

I like that Shanny just comes out and says it! :salute:

Of course having a guy with binoculars is nowhere near as bad as actually taping it IMO.

09-12-2007, 06:51 PM
This is one of my favorite Rick Reilly articles.

It's in his book "Hate mail from cheerleaders"

This is something like 5-7 years old though....

09-12-2007, 06:52 PM
Every team does that. Filming is in a whole 'nother ballpark, however.

09-12-2007, 07:02 PM
I love the bit on Peyton Manning! Didn't know he was such a pottymouth! :D

09-12-2007, 07:10 PM
not only is it a bit different then having a camera filming it, its not against the rules.

09-12-2007, 07:41 PM
I hope some of you look up the word 'facetious'......:rolleyes:

09-12-2007, 07:49 PM
I hope some of you look up the word 'facetious'......

you dont need to look up noting!!

i am a look up!!


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tio- rough mexican slang translation meaning 'crab colon'

us - a lonely person referring to more than himself... can also include imaginary people so sanity is not guaranteed...

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09-12-2007, 08:46 PM
Your quoting a 5 year old article, I wonder if Mikey s still cheating?

09-12-2007, 09:04 PM
Your quoting a 5 year old article, I wonder if Mikey s still cheating?

I didn't realize it was that old until after I posted it.

09-12-2007, 09:13 PM
I didn't realize it was that old until after I posted it.
It was still interesting and very entertaining. Thanks for posting it.

It may be five years old, but it's still pretty up-to-date as an issue.


09-12-2007, 09:14 PM
Every team does that. Filming is in a whole 'nother ballpark, however.

I totally agree with you.