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Ravens' Harbaugh: Patriots' titles 'stained'

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Posted May 01, 2012 @ 1:10 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Updated 1:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, May 1

The Patriots have reached the Super Bowl five times under head coach Bill Belichick, the latest being in the 2011 season, when they defeated the Ravens in the AFC championship to advance to Super Bowl XLVI. They lost that game to the Giants, but the team still has three championships under Belichick’s watch.

On Tuesday morning, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said in a radio interview he believes those championships are tainted because of the ‘Spygate’ scandal of 2007, which showed the Patriots had been illegally videotaping opposing coaches. Harbaugh said the three New England titles under Belichick should be given an asterisk because of the rules they broke.

“In the end, everything is brought before the light of day,” Harbaugh told 97.9 FM in Baltimore. “Even the thing in New England, no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now; it’s been stained.”

The answer was actually a response to a question about the Saints' bounty scandal, which has seen harsh punishments this spring. Harbaugh said he and the Ravens are careful not to break the rules, because it will always come back negatively in the long run.

“If you’re cheating, in the end, you’re going to get discredited,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just not worth it.”

Since taking over as Ravens head coach in 2008, the team is 44-20 in the regular season and has won at least one playoff game each year.

On Tuesday afternoon, Harbaugh released the following statement to clarify his comments:

“While on the 98 Rock show this morning to talk about the run to honor O.J. Brigance and raise funds for ALS research, I answered a question about playing within the rules and referred to the perception that the Super Bowl championships won by the Patriots and Saints have a stain. My reference was to the perception out there that came as the result of the league’s actions.

“I could have been more clear that I was referring to those viewpoints. I totally believe that the Patriot and Saint coaches and players earned those championships. Bill (Belichick) and Sean (Payton) both know that.

“There has been some distortion about what I said.

“The original tweet indicated I pointed the finger at Bill Belichick and mentioned Bill’s name. I did not. I have so much respect for Coach Belichick and the job he does and has accomplished in his Hall of Fame career. I called him to remind him of my respect for him. I also reached out to Tedy Bruschi, who rightfully defended those Patriot players and coaches on ESPN, to tell him that I agree with him that the Patriots earned every victory.”

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