"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spy games or gamesmanship?

This week has been rough for me as a fan of the New England Patriots, hearing my team be bad-mouthed and labeled as cheaters. Such is the case and being that they are my favorite team and were accused and found guilty, I felt the need to pontificate about it. DWI.

Even though the Pats won convincingly last Sunday against the Jets, they were caught doing something against the rules and are paying a stiff price for it. It is against NFL rules to have someone unauthorized by the league video record another teams defensive signals during a game. The obvious thinking behind this is that it would give a team an unfair competitive advantage. This is what the Patriots were accused of once last season and again last Sunday, when they were caught - turned in by former Patriots assistant coach and current Jets head coach Eric Mangini.

All week, I've read stories in the paper and on-line, listened to various talking heads spew about how this could give an advantage or not, how often spying goes on in the NFL in the name of gamesmanship (as it admittedly has been for years), and the whole range of possible penalties that Commisioner Roger Goodell could levy against a team for doing such a thing with videotape. As a result, BB was fined half a mil, the Patriots organization as a whole $250,000 (hello, Robert Kraft) and that the Patriots will forfeit their first-round draft pick in 2008 if they make the playoffs this year or second and third round draft picks if they don't.

But this issue raises a few questions in my mind:

The first was brilliantly echoed in Jackie MacMullan's column in yesterday's Boston Globe. Why would Belichick authorize this? He's clearly been regarded for years as one of, if not the best, coach in the NFL today and is a sure fire HOF'er when he retires, despite this black-eye.

The second question is this: What if one of the league's consistently bad teams was caught doing this? For example, teams such as the Texans, Browns, Cardinals or Lions? Would the penalty have been as stiff? Clearly, this is a precedent setting, statement punishment, which would make other teams think, "Hey, if the Commish can do that to them, imagine how such a punishment would affect my team?"

The severity of this punishment is most definitely due to the fact that the Patriots currently are one of the league's marquee teams and have some of the best players and coaches in the league. They are widely considered by the "experts" (including yours truly) not only an odds on favorite to get to the Super Bowl this year but win it handily, if there is such a thing as an easy win in the NFL.

However, the Commish clearly stated in his letter to the Patriots that this incident did not affect the outcome of last Sunday's game, and clearly it didn't. But it could have and that's the point of the discipline. It's one thing to steal signals but no matter how much information teams have, the players still have to go out and play the game on the field.

All of this is not to say that the Patriots should not have been disciplined, because clearly, rules were broken. Do I think that the penalty was too stiff, with the loss of a potential first round draft pick? Yes, I do. I would rather have seen the Commish suspend Belichick for one or two games this season, one in which the Pats have a legitimate chance to win it all and, I believe, such a punishment would have affected the Patriots playoff chances this year.

Here is the full text of the statement issued by Bill Belichick in response to the punishment handed down by the Commish:

"I accept full responsibility for the actions that led to tonight's ruling. Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused. I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career. "

"As the Commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week's game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress."

"Part of my job as head coach is to ensure that our football operations are conducted in compliance of the league rules and all accepted interpretations of them. My interpretation of a rule in the Constitution and Bylaws was incorrect."

"With tonight's resolution, I will not be offering any further comments on this matter. We are moving on with our preparations for Sunday's game."

And a statement from Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraft:

"This has been an extremely difficult week for our organization. The most troubling part for me, personally, is the impact these actions have had on our fans. We have spent the last 14 years developing and building a franchise that people could embrace and support. The loyalty of our fans has been the most rewarding aspect of owning the team. I am deeply disappointed that the embarrassing events of this past week may cause some people to see our team in a different light.

"After reviewing the facts of the past weekend, the commissioner has made a determination that our franchise engaged in activities that violate the league’s rules. He has determined the punishment and I accept it.

"I believe that Coach Belichick always tries to do what is best for the team and he is always accountable for his decisions. He has been a very important part of what our organization has accomplished over the last seven years. In this case, one of his decisions has resulted in a severe penalty for our franchise. He has paid a heavy price and so has our organization. He has apologized for his actions. I accept his apology and look forward to working with him as we move forward.

"It has been a distinct privilege to be involved in the National Football League since 1994. I am passionate about the league because it represents the ultimate in competition. To this end, the integrity of the game and competition between the 32 teams is of paramount importance to me. Whenever the commissioner believes that the integrity of the league’s competition is compromised, he must act decisively to protect it.

"In addition to our fans, I also feel for our players. I know how hard our players work and prepare for every game and their accomplishments speak for themselves. I look forward to returning all of our focus and energy to the field.”

That being said, it's time to move on with the football season.

Bring on the Chargers on Sunday night!

Go Pats!!

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At 14 September, 2007 12:57, Blogger DaBich said...

I was wondering if you would post about this. I was following it also. I think the punishment could have been worse....the league could have stripped them of their Super Bowl win last season or something radical like that. So, maybe the monetary fine and loss of draft pick isn't so bad. Then again...their loss of integrity is the hardest thing to regain :(
I'm sorry to see this happen to your team, Green.

At 15 September, 2007 08:39, Blogger JLee said...

I could not believe this story when I heard it!? I'm curious what they will do about it...if anything.

At 15 September, 2007 10:30, Blogger ~Autumn said...

I was surprised to see this story. Bill a cheater? Why could't he have done that when he was in Cleveland?!?! LOL In anycase, you do the crime, you do the time. As far as I know, there is no proof that they cheated at the Superbowl a few years ago. (Though PHili fans will tell you differently) But still, if you had not been cheating previously why start now, you have a pretty good team anyway! Silly silly boys and their need to win!

At 15 September, 2007 17:38, Blogger American Guy said...

break the rules - pay the price.

I'm glad that this rule still at least applies somewhere in our society.

At 17 September, 2007 05:30, Blogger DaBich said...

Well, if Sunday's game against the Chargers was any indication, the Patriots surely don't need to cheat to win! They played a great game.

At 17 September, 2007 10:22, Blogger ~Autumn said...

Okay... Here's my theory... I have a theory now.

I don't think they were cheating to cheat. I think someone decided the team needed a kick in the ass to play better (Which they really didn't need anyway) So, someone decided, let's let them get caught cheating... then they'll have something to prove the following week. Nothing like team trying to prove themselves after an embarrassing situation.

Just look at the Browns this week. 'Nuff said.


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