Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Patriots Caught Cheating

For the record, I have been a Patriots season ticket holder for most of the last 35 years. I go to every home game, and a fair number of the road games. I have been to three SuperBowls, as well as every AFC Championship game the team has ever played.

So I am a big fan.

But I am not so big a fan that I cannot admit what seems to be undeniable - the Patriots violated NFL rules last week against the Jets. In short - they cheated.

They violated the rule that prohibits video cameras being used on the sideline. They were fliming the defensive calls from the Jet coaches. What they did is illegal, and they deserve to be punished for their actions.

But please folks - let's not get carried away here.

While what the Pats did was definitely against the rules, it does not rise to the level of offense that many nationally and even locally are claiming. That does not mean they are not guilty - it just means this is not a hanging offense.

Every team in the league steals signs from the sideline. Most teams have personnel dedicated to doing just that. They watch the coaches, and report on the signs given. That is why every team in the league guards their signs, and in fact use decoys to display false signs. This has been going on in the NFL since the very first game.

The difference is - the Pats got caught. They used a video camera, which is clearly illegal under the rules. They were dumb. Why and how their very smart coach allowed this to happen, I do not know. But make no mistake, he is the one responsible for it.

But I have heard people today comparing Bill Belichick to Barry Bonds. I mean, seriously - give me a break.

Belichick is not a likeable guy, much like Bonds. That is about the only thing they have in common.

Teams are caught cheating in this kind of manner all the time. That does not excuse the Patriots - we expect better of them. But it puts it in perspective.

Teams have been fined for playing fast and loose with the salary cap, for stashing players, for banned substances, for violating scouting rules, and a wide variety of similar offenses. This clearly falls into the category with those.

But because it is the Patriots, who have become the Yankees of the NFL - this is a big deal. I have heard and read where people said they should give their Super Bowl championships back, Belichick should resign, and even that they should forfeit the last game to the Jets. That one is funny, considering the camera in question was confiscated during the FIRST quarter of Sunday's game. So why were we killing them in the final quarter?

This is a very disappointing thing for Patriot fans. It has taken some of the fun out of what promises to be a great season. It has cut into the pride we all feel as Pats fans, rooting for one of the finest franchises in sports.

But we shall deal with it.

The Patriots cheated, they got caught, and they will pay an appropriate price. Then the season will go on, and the attention will be focused where it belongs - on the field.

But spare me the hypocracy and New York hype.

No comments: