Raising a steal curtain

Patriots brush off Childress’s comment

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / October 27, 2010

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Brad Childress picked at an old New England wound Monday, but the Patriots weren’t going to let the Vikings coach’s words replay the past.

Over the course of two days, Childress criticized his quarterback, Brett Favre, ranted against the officials after a 28-24 loss to Green Bay, and inadvertently challenged the Patriots’ integrity by saying the 2006 squad had some of the “all-time great signal stealers.’’

His comments about the officials cost him $35,000, as he was fined by the NFL yesterday. And his comments about the Patriots brought back memories the team doesn’t like to revisit.

Speaking with reporters Monday, Childress was asked how he thought rookie cornerback Chris Cook would fare against the Patriots. His response drifted to a Vikings-Patriots Monday night matchup in 2006 — the year before “Spygate’’ — when New England earned a 31-7 victory.

“I’m mindful of the last time we faced them here, on ‘Monday Night Football,’ ’’ said Childress. “It was like a surgical procedure. That’s back when we used to signal [plays] and things like that. I remember having a conversation with [then-defensive coordinator] Mike Tomlin about that.

“These were some of the all-time great signal stealers. In fact, that’s what was going on. They were holding, holding, holding. We were signaling from the sideline. They were good at it. It’s like stealing signals from a catcher.’’

Tom Brady didn’t pay much attention to the comments.

“We’ve been called a lot worse than that,’’ Brady said yesterday during his contractually obligated appearance on WEEI. “That game was so long ago. They had a great defense, and Mike Tomlin was the coordinator at the time. I remember us executing pretty well that night.

“I’ve heard different guys in the past say that. That’s come and gone. That’s not been a part of football here for a long time, and we’ve still won a lot of games. In ’07, they changed the rule and so forth.

“I don’t buy a whole lot into that. The team that’s going to win this weekend is the team that plays better. I promise you that.’’

When asked if the Patriots were setting up their offense based on stolen signals, Childress responded, “Yeah. Is it two, is it three? If you know that as a quarterback, that’s as good as you can do. And they did as good as they could do.’’

When asked specifically if they were stealing signals, Childress, said no, that he just “had a notion.’’

“Having played them with the Eagles before that, they were good [at stealing signals],’’ Childress said. “It’s something that we do as well. It’s good for one; it’s good for the other.

“We didn’t change it up. We didn’t use wristbands. We didn’t change the menu at halftime. They were good at that. Obviously, you don’t need to give Tom any added advantage.’’

Whether Childress meant to take a dig at the Patriots or compliment them, he didn’t elicit much reaction from players yesterday.

“That’s my first time hearing what Childress had to say,’’ said defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. “That don’t bother me. We’re going to do what we have to do. We play football on Sundays regardless of how you slice it.

“Whatever people have to say about us, deal with us on Sunday. As far as all that, I don’t really care what people have to say about the New England Patriots.’’

Bill Belichick was asked if he had much of a relationship with Childress, but Belichick said he had never coached with him and has not seen him at anything more than the occasional league event.

As is usually the case, Belichick didn’t engage in a battle of words after hearing the allegations by Childress. Belichick said the Vikings are a good team with a lot of great players, but that was as far as he would take it.

“Right now, we’re just trying to focus on the Vikings,’’ he said. “We’re not really worried about any other games that happened in the past or any later ones that are coming up on the schedule.’’

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