An article published on the Steelers’ website alleges that the Pittsburgh coaches’ headsets, which malfunctioned during the first quarter of their 28–21 loss to the Patriots on Thursday, worked only when an NFL official was nearby.
After the coaches reported the problems with the headsets, an NFL representative tried to enforce the Equity Rule, which states that if the coach-to-coach radio system malfunctions completely for one team, the other team is required to shut down its system as well.
However, Bob Labriola wrote on Steelers.com that when the representative approached the Patriots’ sideline to shut down their headsets, the Steelers’ headsets started functioning properly, allowing both teams to continue using them. When the representative walked away, Pittsburgh’s headsets would resume malfunctioning, Labriola reported.
The Steelers’ headsets were reportedly picking up interference from the Patriots’ radio broadcast during the first quarter due to a “stadium infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather,” the NFL said in a statement released after the game.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that problems with the headsets are “always the case” when his team visits Gillette Stadium. Sports Illustrated reported earlier this week that other teams have experienced similar issues in New England, and one team executive called the Patriots “the worst hosts in football.”
- Erin Flynn