11 Years Later, Tyoka Jackson Opens Up And Goes Off On Super Bowl XXXVI
Eleven years and one day ago, New Orleans hosted a Super Bowl…just like yesterday.
It was supposed to be the crowning of a dynasty. Instead, it was the beginning of one.
My guess is that 11 years from now, members of the 49ers will still be hurting from the Super Bowl in New Orleans that took place yesterday.
But, I can’t imagine any of the members of the 49ers going off like former Ram Tyoka Jackson did regarding Super Bowl XXXVI.
After he felt Marshall Faulk opened the door for the discussion last week in an interview from New Orleans, Jackson decided to pick up where Faulk left off and go into detail on the topic on The Ryan Kelley Morning After.
“Thank you, Rush (the nickname the team gave to Marshall Faulk) for bringing it up, because, let’s face it, guys, I was as average as the day is long when it came to the NFL. I was an average player. No one cares. No one remembers. But, when Marshall Faulk talks about it, it’s a little bit different.”
So, once Faulk responded to a question about it from Comcast Sports New England last week by saying he “felt cheated” by the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, Tyoka Jackson decided to storm through that open door and share opinions he’d been holding close to the vest for the last 11 years.
“The NFL glossed over it. I understand why. It’s a multi-billion dollar business that they’re trying to protect,” Jackson said. “But the fact of the matter is the Patriots stole at least one Super Bowl and probably multiple Super Bowls. The NFL wanted it to go away, because you want the fans to believe that the competition is real. For 99.9% of the time it is, and for the Rams it was. But, the Patriots had an added advantage, and it’s unfair.”
And, so he’s talking…and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to give up the fight.
But, it’s not just Rams talking now. Former Patriots’ defensive end Willie McGinest responded to Faulk by saying, “If we had any extra information, then that game wouldn't have been as dramatic as it was, coming down to a field goal," McGinest told Comcast Sports Net in New England. "Trust me. It would have been a blowout."
Jackson laughed at McGinest’s comments.
“For Willie McGinest, who was a great player…a better player than I was…to say if they would have had an advantage (like what they’re accused of), they would’ve destroyed us. I mean, come on, guys. Look at their roster. Look at the fact that we beat them in their place earlier in the year. You had just enough to make the game what it was (a three-point win). Without that advantage, we destroy New England that day.”
Many fans---even in St. Louis---reacted to Faulk’s comments by saying, “Move on. It’s been 11 years.” So, I’m sure many will react to Jackson’s the same way. But, unlike Faulk’s rather broad comments last week in which he just explained that he felt “cheated,” Jackson broke it down in detail.
“This is all circumstantial evidence. I certainly didn’t see the tapes being recorded as it was happening. But, there are some things that make this thing obvious. Let’s not forget that we beat them in their stadium earlier in the year (24-17 win in November 2001…without Damione Lewis, Adam Archuleta, Mark Fields, Leonard Little, and Az Hakim left with an injury in the first quarter). The allegations of Spygate go back to 1999 or 2000, and so that process would have been in place where our offensive and defensive signals could’ve been taped in their stadium (in November). And then we understand that we put in wrinkles---especially in the red zone---that we hadn’t used before (the day before the Super Bowl). And, I understand as a defensive player that when you watch film, you know that you can say, ‘When they do this, we’ll do that. When they check to this, we’ll check to that. When they motion to this, we’ll check to that.’ However, when an offense does things you’ve never seen before, you need time to adjust. It takes at least a quarter, maybe a half, to adjust to what was going on. They were checking to the right defenses the first time we did things we had never done before. That makes absolutely no sense. You had to have known. That makes it obvious to me.”
Jackson acknowledges he doesn’t know how much the Patriots knew, but he says even just the slightest advantage is a difference-maker.
“For all the people who play video games, so like Madden for example, just imagine if you knew exactly what your opponent was going to run every single play…or 75% of the plays…or 50% of the plays…or a third of the plays. You’d have a huge advantage, because you could call the right defense for it. Now, certainly, you’d still have to execute. But, imagine Tom Brady, a rookie quarterback, and the offensive coordinator is in your ear saying, ‘Hey, listen. They’re going to be in Cover 2. They’re going to fake a blitz. Let’s go quick count and look to the tight end over the middle. Allright?’ So, when he comes to the line of scrimmage, he knows exactly where his primary receivers are. Does he have to throw it? Sure. Does his receiver have to catch it? Yes. But, that’s a huge advantage.”
Former Ram Grant Wistrom joined us on The Ryan Kelley Morning After the day before Jackson appeared, and he had a completely different opinion of Faulk’s comments on Spygate.
“If we’re running plays on Saturday afternoon that are going to impact our game on Sunday, we’re pretty stupid. You know what? Shame on us. If I was Bill Belichick, and I had the opportunity to watch those plays, I would’ve watched them. And, I’m sure Mike Martz would’ve done the same thing. Once again, if we’re running plays (Saturday) that are going to impact the outcome of the game, we’re dumb.”
Jackson disagrees with his former teammate.
“I hope Grant is not starting to suffer from memory loss like I am, but that’s exactly what we did every Saturday: we walked through plays that we were going to run in the game. I don’t know what he remembers, but I certainly remember all those hundreds of walk-throughs over my 12-year career. That’s exactly what you did. You’d walk through the most important plays, because those were the plays you were going to run, so you could get more memory and more muscle memory, because you were going to run those plays. You didn’t walk through plays you weren’t going to run. So, I’m not sure where he’s coming from there.”
Jackson says this wasn’t an “after-the-fact” observation. He thought something was strange during the game.
“I’m standing on the sideline watching and saying, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’ You got to remember, I came from Tampa, so I played against this offense and I thought the defensive performance we put on against that team in the NFC Championship Game (on January 23, 2000) was the greatest defensive performance against that offense that anyone had ever seen. And look who we had on our defense. Look at the Hall of Famers we had on our defense. Ronde Barber. Warren Sapp. Derrick Brooks. I mean the list goes on and on. Here’s this defense (of the Patriots), and they’re playing better defense against this offense (than we did in the NFC Championship Game), and the (2001 Rams’) offense was better (than the 1999 Rams’ offense),” Jackson said. “All I know is we had the greatest offense I had ever seen, and I had ever played against (a couple of years ago in the NFC Championship Game and in 2000 at Tampa Bay), and we get into the game, and we can’t move the ball the length of my you know what. Something’s wrong.”
Now, because it’s been 11 years and a day, many Rams’ fans---much less football fans around the league---may have forgotten just how great that Rams’ team was.
Heading into Super Bowl XXXVI, they had only two losses. They were 14-2 in the regular season, and they had beaten the hell out of the Packers 45-17 in the Divisional Round and beaten the Eagles 29-24 in the NFC Championship Game.
Their two losses were to the Saints (with Marshall Faulk out injured) and to the Buccaneers.
In those two losses, the Rams turned the football over a total of 14 times. Tyoka said that during the interview, and it seemed so absurd that I went back to check it out.
Sure enough, in the game against the Saints, the Rams led 24-6 at the half, but they turned it over eight times.
And, nearly one month later, the Bucs came into The Dome and forced six turnovers (four fumbles, two interceptions).
The eight turnovers led to a three-point Saints’ win.
The six turnovers led to a seven-point Buccaneers’ win.
That’s how much it took for teams to beat the 2001 Rams.
Jackson uses those two losses---and how unique the circumstances were with all of the turnovers…and still how close the games were---to further bolster his point that the Rams were in a different class than anyone in the league, including the Patriots.
“We had the best team. Watch how many Hall of Famers come off of our team. Watch how many Hall of Famers come off of theirs.”
Jackson also went into an area that hasn’t gotten much---if any---attention on the topic of Spygate and its impact on the outcome of Super Bowl XXXVI: the Patriots’ knowledge of the Rams’ defensive calls…not just the offensive calls or the red zone plays that were allegedly recorded at the Saturday walk-through.
“I’m saying this: “We know that they were taping signals. Why would you only tape one set of signals? We played in your stadium earlier in the year. Why would you only tape our offensive signals? Why wouldn’t you tape our defensive coordinator’s signals as well? You got to remember back then there were no microphones in the linebackers’ helmets. So, everything was hand signals. And, so it makes sense. If you’re going to cheat, cheat all the way. Why would you cheat halfway?”
He uses running back Antowain Smith’s performance as an example.
“They couldn’t run the ball all year, and all of the sudden, they’re running the ball up and down the field on us.”
Smith carried the ball 15 times for 36 yards (2.4 yards per carry) in Foxboro on November 18, 2001…against a Rams’ defense that, as noted above, was missing Damione Lewis, Leonard Little, Adam Archuleta, and Mark Fields. In Super Bowl XXXVI, he carried 18 times for 92 yards (5.1 yards per carry) with three of those four players all back in the lineup and healthy. Smith only had one game during the regular season with a better yards per carry average than what he did in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Rams had the third-best run defense statistically in 2001.
But, how would the Patriots have benefited from recording the Rams’ defensive signals in Foxboro back in November? Surely, the Rams would’ve switched them up over the course of the season, right?
Jackson says, embarrassingly so, that wasn’t the case.
“It’s funny to talk about now, because looking back, it’s kind of silly, but our signals never changed. It never dawned on me---or any of the defensive staff that I talked with---that anyone would be taping our signals. We certainly had guys stand in front of the guy calling the plays, so that the offensive coordinator or the head coach couldn’t watch the signals be signaled in. But, in terms of someone standing on the sidelines with their express written job description is to tape the signal-caller on the other team so it can be broken down after the game, it’s genius…it’s unbelievably great…and it was against the rules…and it was cheating.”
Jackson believes that the Patriots didn’t just cheat the Rams. He believes they cheated the Panthers and the Eagles in their other two Super Bowl wins.
“I remember feeling before the Spygate story broke that I wanted to hate the Patriots, but I got to respect the way they play. They have to play the way the game is supposed to be played (in order to get that many wins). I just couldn’t understand how that roster could produce that many wins. You have one unbelievable player---one once-in-a-generation or once-in-a-lifetime player---who I believe is probably the greatest quarterback who’s ever played the game, because no one has done more with less…so you have that guy and a handful of really good players…and then you got a bunch of average guys beneath them, who were just playing-hard, average guys. And yet they went on this run that could be considered a dynasty. And, so I wanted to hate on them, but I really couldn’t, because I respected the heck out of them. But, then when Spygate broke, it all made sense to me. And, now it’s made it easy to hate the Patriots. And, Bill Belichick needs a stain on his legacy because of what he did.”
But even if the league got rid of the tapes and tried to move past Spygate, Jackson sees some karmic justice in what’s taken place over the last eight years.
“Here’s the ultimate comeuppance: ever since they stopped them from Spygate, they’ve won no Super Bowls.”
And then he fires another shot.
“I just ask you to look at the roster. Give me another three-time Super Bowl-winning team in five years, and look at the amount of wins they had over eight to 10 years, look at the roster, and just ask yourself, ‘Does it add up?’”
Many will roll their eyes at Jackson’s words. They’ll say, “let it go.” They’ll say he’s bitter, which he acknowledges he is. Or they’ll point out upsets happen on “any given Sunday.” Hell, his own teammate and defensive line partner in Grant Wistrom said the Rams were stupid if Spygate cost them the game. Jackson understands, but his fight for what he believes is right is not going to end anytime soon.
“Grant has a point there. It may not have been the smartest thing. We probably shouldn’t have done it given the fact that we weren’t in our own venue and didn’t have total security. However, a cheater is a cheater. A rule breaker is a rule breaker. Stand up and say you did it and let’s move on. But, until you do, and as long as you continue to deny it, and as long as players continue to deny it, the issue is going to still continue.”
Listen to the entire interview by clicking HERE.
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