The first book to fully explore the extraordinary covert actions NFL teams are willing to take in order to win.
Spies disguised as priests. Secret surveillance of targets’ movements. Radio frequency jamming. Tapped telephones. These might sound like acts of espionage right out of the Cold War or a spy movie—but in fact came straight from the National Football League.
In Spies on the Sidelines: The High-Stakes World of NFL Espionage, Kevin Bryant provides the first in-depth investigation of spying in professional football, as well as the countermeasures utilized to defend against these threats. Spanning across all teams and eras, Bryant shines a light on the shady world of NFL reconnaissance—from clandestine photography and hidden draft prospects to listening devices and stolen documents—along with the permissible, if sometimes questionable, spy techniques teams utilize day in and day out to gain an advantage over their opponents.
Written by a former Special Agent with decades of experience collecting and safeguarding information for the Department of Defense, Spies on the Sidelines reveals that, behind the game-day action, professional football can be as cloak-and-dagger as American intelligence agencies. This fascinating and expansive compilation of NFL spy anecdotes exposes the extraordinary measures teams are willing to take in order to win.
Kevin Bryant has twenty-two years of experience safeguarding and gathering information for the Department of Defense, including thirteen years as a Special Agent. He received the Bronze Star Medal and the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism. Bryant has coached soccer at many levels and was the president of a district-level United States Youth Soccer program. He graduated with top honors from American Military University with an M.A. in Intelligence Studies and an M.S. in Sports Management. He and his family live on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA.
Part I: Trick Plays
Chapter 1: Collection During Practices
Chapter 2: Locker-Room Collection and Searching for Paperwork
Chapter 3: Listening Devices
Chapter 4: Miscellaneous Game-Time Collection
Chapter 5: Elicitation
Chapter 6: Insider Information
Part II: The Core of the Playbook
Chapter 7: Advance Scouting
Chapter 8: Debriefs
Chapter 9: Signals Collection
Chapter 10: Open Source and Media Collection
Part III: The Draft and Free Agency
Chapter 11: Draft Prospects
Chapter 12: Opponents’ Draft Targets
Chapter 13: Pro Scouting
Chapter 14: The AFL and NFL Fight Over Players
Part IV: A Case Study of the Cheatriots and the League That Enables Them
Chapter 15: Spygate
Chapter 16: The Skeletons in the Closet
Chapter 17: Deflategate
Considering the many scandals seen within the NFL during the past decade, the book under review is timely. After spending more than two decades working in the Department of Defense and possessing a degree in sports management as well, Bryant is uniquely situated to research and analyze espionage in the NFL…. In execution, the anecdotes are worthy of a Cold War spy novel. The author also takes a deep dive into the well-documented New England Patriots’ Spygate and Deflategate scandals of recent memory…. Recommended. All readers.
Sports story or true crime story? Kevin Bryant nails it. It’s both. Professional football is actually just a big business. Profits rise on wins and fall on losses. As in any business, spying for competitive advantage is—in the end—about stealing money. With incidences compiled and documented in a fascinating read, the true scope of espionage materializes. Football is definitely not ‘only a game.’
The first systematic and detailed examination of espionage tactics, techniques, and procedures continuously used by NFL teams to gain the game day competitive advantage against their opponents. Kevin Bryant provides the only comprehensive review of the extreme measures NFL teams’ owners, coaches, players, and managers take to collect information, steal play signals, and to disrupt opposing NFL teams, to “win at all costs.” This original work gives us insights into what our favorite NFL teams will do to win on game day, with all the dirty tricks, cheating, bribery, deception, lies, coercion, and betrayal that would rival the most thrilling James Bond movie. This thorough and lucid book is indispensable for NFL fans.
Kevin has drawn on his experience as a former Special Agent and his years of experience collecting and protecting information for the Department of Defense to research this fascinating look into the cutthroat world of NFL 'espionage'. Very detailed and vivid and one hell of a read.
[Spies on the Sidelines] is a well-researched examination of the measures taken by professional sports organizations, in this case some teams in the NFL, to achieve success commercially and on the field. In doing so, Kevin Bryant has opened possibilities and interest of similar work relating to high-value sports, an under-researched area.
In Spies on the Sidelines, Kevin Bryant takes a deep dive into the murky waters that pro football’s millions of fans never see—the effort by teams to gain an advantage by any means. SpyGate and DeflateGate are just the most notorious examples of the sign stealing, clandestine information gathering, and other nefariousness that goes on behind closed doors. Bryant’s guided tour is a total page-turner.
Kevin Bryant’s Spies on the Sidelines is the single most revealing book about espionage in professional sports.
A great book! I learned during my career that great teams that cheat aren’t unbeatable, but they sure are more difficult to beat, especially in the postseason.
The book is a detailed, well-researched look at how NFL teams gather information through both conventional and unorthodox means. Bryant, whose background is in the intelligence services, has combined his professional experience with a passion for American football into a very interesting book.... While the book provides a fascinating insight into what modern scouting and analysis entails, unsurprisingly it is at its most interesting when discussing the less legitimate ways teams gather information. As well as telling countless stories, Bryant analyses and brings his own expertise and that of industry professionals in highlighting the steps taken by teams to counter intelligence gathering efforts. Bryant’s passion for the subject shines through on every page.
A fascinating look at the dark underside of the NFL. This book is a reflection of the 'win at all costs' culture that has steamrolled America.
9/22/22, Dolphins Talk Podcast: Kevin Bryant talked about the book and NFL stories in this episode.