Later this month, the Eagles will head to Foxboro for a series of joint practices against the Patriots leading up to their preseason game. Last year, the Patriots came to Philly for the same purpose.
Eagles cornerback Cary Williams made it clear Friday that he’s no fan of practicing against other teams, especially the Patriots, the culprits of the “Spygate” scandal.
“They are cheaters,” Williams said. “They are.”
In 2007, the Pats were fined $250,000 by the NFL and docked a 2008 first-round pick for illegally videotaping opponents’ defensive signals. Head coach Bill Belichick, who’s still the head coach, was fined an additional $500,000.
Williams, whose disdain for the Patriots goes back to his days with the arch-rival Ravens and their heated playoff showdown, said there’s no benefit to practicing against other teams, especially a team with New England’s “history.”
“You don’t wanna give any — I don’t care whether it’s the Patriots or it’s the the dang Bengals, whoever it is — you don’t want to give them an opportunity to look at your stuff,” he said. “That’s just me, from a personal standpoint. I don’t want to show none of my cards.
“So to me it’s not benefiting us because they’ve already proven who they are (from Spygate), that’s their history. And I don’t like them, not only because of that, but because I just don’t like them. I played them three of four times in a row [in the playoffs].”
Williams said he also hates the Steelers, one of Baltimore’s division rivals, and is developing a distaste for other NFC East teams, but he reserved the “cheaters” label exclusively for the Patriots and noted their Super Bowl drought since Spygate penalties were levied.
“I’m trying not to go into details about it or disrespect that organization because I give that organization nothing but ... you still got to go out there and play the game,” he said. “All the credit. I give them all the credit in the world. But one fact still remains, they haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught.”
He then added, “You got caught. I know you’re gonna be looking at the film when we go out there. That’s just that. I don’t want to show them my card. That’s just me, not them. Not them. Every team is gonna look at it anyway. We’re gonna look at what they do too.”
Williams made his displeasure known last year, when he was booted from a joint practice after scuffling with a New England wideout. Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Belichick, coaching pals, made a prior agreement that any player caught tussling would be kicked out of practice.
The Ravens and Patriots met three times in the playoffs when Williams played for Baltimore, with the Ravens winning twice. They squared off in the AFC Championship Game twice, with New England winning 23-20 in 2011 and Baltimore prevailing 28-13 the following season.
Joint practices have become trendy around the league. The Patriots are also having combined sessions with the Redskins this summer. Last year and in 2012, the Pats practiced against the Buccaneers leading up to a preseason game.
The Eagles never had joint practices in Andy Reid’s 14 seasons. Before last year, the hadn’t practiced against another team in the preseason since working out with the Bills in 1998.
Williams said the game intensity is lost when teams practice against each other leading up.
“I like the mystery, you know what I mean?” he said. “I used to like the mystery, where you just come into camp, you do your camp, you go against those other guys and you get that itch to go hit some other guys. When you’re practicing against other guys, other teams early on, you don’t get that itch. That itch is gone.
“And then there’s certain things in practice [last year] that I didn’t agree with that went down, so I know it’s going to be the same thing this year. To me, I didn’t see how we benefited from that practice at all. And maybe it’s because I do not like the Patriots.”
Training camp is a week old, and this marks the second time Williams has sounded off about a certain topic. First, he said he likes to see fights in camp. Then, he explained why he should be considered one of the league's elite cornerbacks.
This is all somewhat surprising because in the spring, he said wouldn't be as outspoken as he was last year.
"I don't think I'm going to change much, but I think I'll be [wiser] with what I have to say," Williams said in April. "I'll be a little bit [smarter] before I react and talk a lot more."
Never change, Cary.