Wednesday, September 12, 2007

PatriotGate: Cheating in the NFL

Dateline: Foxboro

"At this point, we have not been notified of the league's ruling. Although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players. Following the league's decision, I will have further comment."

Who did that statement emanate from this morning?

TNA Tag Team Champion Adam “Pacman” Jones? Nope.
Free Agent Tank Johnson? Nope.
Bengals wideout Chris Henry? Nope.
Recently suspended Patriots safety Rodney Harrison? Closer.

It was none other than the Patriots’ three-time Super Bowl champion head coach, Bill Belichick.


Yeah, that guy.

His statement followed ESPN's Chris Mortensen's report that the NFL is considering punishing the Patriots for spying. This was first alerted, via the media, by a website Jets Confidential

In case you didn’t know the facts, here’s a quick rundown:

NFL security officials confiscated a camera and videotape from Patriots video assistant Matt Estrella on the New England sidelines when it was suspected he was recording the Jets' defensive signals. Sources say the visual evidence confirmed the suspicion.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is considering severe sanctions, including the possibility of docking the Patriots "multiple draft picks" because it is the competitive violation in the wake of a stern warning to all teams since he became commissioner, the sources said. The Patriots have been suspected in previous incidents. [Last season, similar accusations were made while playing the Green Bay Packers.]

In addition to punishment in the form of draft pick forfeitures, fines and suspensions for coaches (including Belichick) have been rumored. As for anyone who thinks Goodell would strip a victory away from the Patriots; that’s about as likely as letting a half-dozen rabid Jets fans take tackling drills with Belichick during the next time the teams meet up.

So what should be the punishment? In reality, we have to try and find something that may possible happen. Right?

I’m not going to worry about the assistant coach. He should have to fall on the sword in every way possible and receive a lifetime ban from the NFL sidelines. However, he was following orders. It’s time to punish those who are ultimately accountable.

Additionally, I’m also going to ignore the real media justifying the Patriots indiscretions by stating that everyone cheats. We’re dealing with this situation and with these accusations of cheating. We don’t diagnose murder as an entire subject during each and individual trial.

Here are some suggested penalization scenarios based on the body of facts.

Suspension for Belichick:
One game
is the most realistic approach, and even that is not likely. The Patriots are the NFL’s darling and it would be surprising to see the Commissioner lay down that hammer and sit the head coach for a week. However, he should.
Multiple game
suspension. Even less likely, it would be tough for Goodell to sell this to just about everyone (except Pats haters and Jets fans). Since these accusations have surfaced – and Belichick seems less than sincere with his apology – maybe it isn’t that irrational.
suspension. As likely as sending him to the moon. No way, no how.

There’s no use even guessing random numbers. Although Brian Urlacher did get fined six figures for wearing a Vitamin Water hat during Super Bowl media week. Is there a number that can actually hurt the Patriots? Bob Kraft spent crazy bank on Donte Stallworth and Kelly Washington, so why would a fine hurt him? If it’s less than one million, then it’s an absolute joke. Let’s say it has to be at least $1 million. Does Kraft even flinch? $5 million? Does Goodell have the cahones?

Stripping Draft Picks:
If you’re going to take picks, you make a real statement reminiscent to the NBA stripping the Minnesota Timberwolves of multiple 1st round picks for tampering with Joe Smith. Commissioner Goodell can make that real statement by stripping a year’s worth of picks. You strip multiple high-round picks, in multiple years if need-be. What’s likely? A blend of something seemingly tough and something unreasonably light-handed (e.g. a 3rd and 5th-round pick).

So what would I do? Stepping aside for a moment from being a die-hard Jets fan, here are the punitive measures I would employ:

1) Suspend Belichick for 1-game. He got caught cheating for at least one game, so suspend him from one.
2) Fine the Patriots $5 million. You have to make sure this never happens again.
3) Strip the Patriots of their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-round picks. Unfortunately, that’s just more money for free agents; unless you can try your best to tinker with their salary cap. You cannot ignore the fact that the Patriots were already once accused less than a season ago and trim their penalty.)
4) Sit Belichick down in a room with Commissioner Goodell and have the two go over the entire rule book. This way, Belichick has no room to misinterpret the rules. (This statement alone makes him a complete black-hearted fraud, by the way.)

Cheap shots aside, do you think Belichick peeks at his opponent’s screen during a game of Madden?

Until next time…


summy said...

Out of curiosity, do you think that Mangini should be penalized at all? He's the one who ratted out his former coach, and it would make sense that IF this did go on before, that Mangini knew of, and benefited from, prior instances of this. Yet, now that it helps his cause (especially in looking for an excuse after a blowout loss) against a division rival, he speaks out.

So, while I agree that the Pats should be punished, I'm curious as to your thoughts on Mangyna.

Chris Clement said...

Mangyna? I like it. Just like Belicheat.

He should not be punished, as of now.

While this isn't a federal court case, as often happens, Mangini would come off most likely scott-free it's because he's willing to bury Belichick as deep as he could.

Now if he's caught, in the past, of cheating...then he deserves to be punished. Especially since he was an assistant under Belichick and now has his own gig (oh which, as we know, Mangini hasn't been accused or caught cheating).

Such a similar situation occured with Jose Guillen of the Angels a few years back (ratting on former teammate Brendan Donnelly, much to the chagrin of his hated ex-manager Mike Scossia). Frank Robinson went Frank Robinson and Guillen was targeted by some as a scoundrel.

In the end, you rat out cheaters. Even if you helped them.

While Mangini's culpability matters a little, it pales in comparison to Belichick's ego-maniacal act (cheating in direct violation of an NFL rule, after being warned, during Week 1 of the season, and against a hated rival).

Hope this helped a little. It's not as focused as my article. Although, I still feel while Mangini could've maybe warned Belichick about such a potential bombshell...we as fans, Pats or Jets fans, should be happier when cheaters and caught and (hopefully) just punishment arrives.

That, I hope, we can agree on.

summy said...

Oh, of course. Like I said, any team which cheats (of which I'm certain there are at least 20) in this or any other manner, deserves strict punishment.

My punishment would depend on a further investigation to see who knew of the cheating. If it's just Belicheat (he's earned it) and his assistants, then I'd want suspensions of varied lengths (with Belicheat serving the most, around 5-6 games) and the stripping of some draft choices along with a reduction in their cap figure relating to the draft choices (So they can't use the money on FAs).

If Kraft and the mgmt knew of it too, then I'd increase the number of draft choices lost and also force them to sacrifice their income from games/advertising to less-fortunate teams for the entire season.

While the Pats are my #2 team, I don't condone cheating in anyway. But, I would like to see a crackdown on this sort of activity league wide in addition to the punishment levied out against my Pats.

Paymon said...

I stopped myself from responding earlier to allow the punishment handed down by the NFL Commissioner to sink in.

After careful thought, I think Roger Goodell lost his first major battle against a formidable figure, a 3-time SB winning head coach and a well-respected organization.

Excessive punishment for the young men who deserved excessive punishment was a no-brainer. In a legal and media sense, each of these young men are highly defenseless.

Enter Bill Belichick. He makes $4.2M this year and he gets fined for less than 1/8 of his salary for cheating outright.

Here is what I know ...
- Belichick oversaw a cheating operation that gave an obvious competitive edge. If it was not for a competitive edge, then why film the opposition's sideline? It must be to take pictures of the attractive Jets coaching staff.

- Prior to this, the Patriots were reported by Green Bay and Detroit. This was the 3rd time they were reported. A $250k fine really sticks it to the organization, whose family name is linked to a well-known food corporation.

- Dallas QB coach Wade Wilson was fined for a higher portion of his salary than Belichick. He took HGH, which is wrong, but for himself and not for a competitive advantage. There is also no proof that he supplied (or tried) HGH to players.

So what if the Pats give up a 1st-round pick? It'll be in the late 20s at worst. They still hold the 49ers 1st-rounder. More picks could've and should've been taken away knowing these things which all of us (especially the NFL Commissioner) are knowledgeable of.

The image-conscious commissioner can now know he lacks cahones.