Patriots must win title to fully erase Spygate

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh brought up an old but sore topic Tuesday with the New England Patriots.

Harbaugh mentioned the Patriots' three championships have been "stained" due to Spygate. He later clarified in a statement that he was just repeating public perception. Harbaugh added that he believes New England earned its titles.

But the fact that Spygate still comes up with New England is proof that the Patriots must win another Super Bowl to fully erase the scandal.

It's unknown how much illegally taping an opponent's sideline helped the Patriots during their title runs. Maybe it was a little. Maybe it was a lot. But the overwhelming perception, right or wrong, is Spygate played a significant factor in New England's three Lombardi trophies.

New England has since gone to two Super Bowls in an effort to dispel that perception. One of those included a 16-0 regular season. There is no denying Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches ever and Tom Brady is an all-time great quarterback.

However, merely going to the Super Bowl is not enough for the Patriots in the post-Spygate era. They must win it all or the "stain" remains. New England has zero championships after the scandal, and that is brought up constantly when mentioning the Patriots' legacy.

It's ironic that this season's Super Bowl is in New Orleans -- home of the Saints and their recent bounty scandal.

The Patriots, who are favorites again in the AFC, have lived with their own scandal for several years and have a chance to fully move on from it by winning another title in the Superdome.