Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Call Belichick, Pats What They Are: Cheaters

Wednesday Quickie directly below (or click here).

The Patriots are cheaters: Please stop using the phrase "violated league rules." The less formal, more accurate way of saying that is: "Cheated."

Cheaters. Yikes. Worst word in sports?

I'm surprised. It's a little like learning your favorite home run hitter uses steroids. Mainly: Why would a team as smart and well-run as the Patriots even NEED to cheat like this?

It remains to be seen whether this was some sort of chronic, recurring theme for the Pats – or even something that "every" team does, but simply never gets caught. Or something epidemic within the Pats organization, specifically.

Given the NFL's CIA-like Security department, you'd think they could go to the original NFL Films game tape and easily spot whether the Pats had employed this type of cheating in other games... say, in any of their Super Bowl victories that came down to a single play, in which stealing signs might have been the difference between winning and losing titles.

I'm not saying the Pats cheated to win their titles, but it certainly calls into question whether everything was on the level when they did. It's at least worth looking at the game tape, isn't it? (Or, Pats fans, are you afraid to see what you'll find?)

After all, if they're willing to brazenly cheat in Week 1, what lengths might a cheater go to to win in a championship game?

(Update: As you'd expect, rival coaches and execs from across the league are coming forward to talk about how this has been a Belichick tactic for years. Hmmm...)

The second-biggest question is: What type of punishment should they receive from the league for cheating? Consider that Roger Goodell has made "Get Tough" his mantra on the players who cheat. What kind of signal would it send if he didn't severely punish the teams who cheat?

The phrase being thrown around is "loss of multiple draft picks." I'm OK with that. But what does that mean? Are we talking about next year's first-rounder here? Second-rounder? Spread over multiple years?

If the punishment is too severe, Goodell is effectively punishing one of the men who employ him (Robert Kraft). If the punishment is too lenient, he makes the cost-benefit of cheating more appealing. This is a far tougher tightrope than the simple "player conduct" or "PED-related" suspensions. (As PFT pointed out: If Wade Wilson was suspended multiple games for using PEDS, what should a cheating head coach get?)

Finally, the usual question in any scandal: "What did Bill Belichick know and when did he know it?"

Given the particularly high level of control Belichick asserts over his team's operations, it seems unrealistic that this was the work of some rogue lackey. (It's the "A Few Good Men" scenario: It would be as if Kiefer Sutherland executed the "Code Red" himself, without Jack Nicholson's original command.)

Belichick's role is the most unseemly aspect of this entire cheating episode. In terms of potential punishments – and given his likely level of control over the cheating operation – a suspension shouldn't be out of the question.

The bottom line is that the entire episode calls into question the NFL's great dynasty of the last decade -- and arguably the greatest coach of all time. Again: Yikes.

But let's please call it what it is: Cheating. And it looks like not just cheating in one instance, but cheating as a recurring and preferred game tactic.

For Belichick, for the NFL and for Pats fans, I think this story gets a lot worse before it gets better.

-- D.S.

93 comments:

Mark said...

overreact much?

DanShanoff.com said...

Mark, you must be a Pats fan. I appreciate the state of denial.

Mark said...

Some comments from a former NFL-cameraman...

"We used to film opposing players all the time," he said. "The coaches would ask us to focus on someone in the pregame and then they'd monitor it in the coaches booth. It's a common thing everyone does. I just can't believe the Patriots were so brazen about it."

and

What surprised him most, he said, was an obvious precaution the Patriots failed to take.

"I never actually recorded anything," he said, "so as not to leave evidence!"

I'll wait until Friday and the comissioner's ruling to make any final conclusions on whether to slap an outright "cheating" label on it, but so far it's not looking good for the Patriots.

Mark said...

Ha, there are two "mark"s on here, I'm the 2nd one and don't think Dan is overreacting at all considering the evidence so far.

nooch said...

it's cheating no doubt, but as a pats fan, i promise it does not detract from the 3 SB's.

What im most surprised about is that (if belechick knew, which he had to) why wasnt there a better escape plan in the works?

Think about bookies writing bets on flash paper so they ignite quickly if the feds raid. If their guy used a digital camera, all it should take is some magnet swipe over the disk drive to wipe out the evidence.

Another thing im surprised about...all these other coaches who are coming out saying they knew this was a belechick tactic for many years...any particular reason why they chose not to say anything till now? perhaps they know that they do it to, they are just happy not to get caught.

Brian said...

Great post Dan, thanks for not glossing things over...Clayton's article on ESPN.com was far too lenient on the Pats because of their supposed greatness.

aflockofsigel said...

Why so surprised? In your own post you identify the factors that make this story NOT that surprising. (1) The Patriots have been exceptionally good for the past seasons. (2) Belichick keeps that team in a shroud of secrecy.

You ask why a team as good as the Patriots would need to cheat? Maybe they're good BECAUSE they cheat.

It's foolish to think that the Patriots are the only team doing this. They're probably just the only ones getting caught... and THAT is the real surprise.

If it's not signal-stealing, I imagine that every NFL team has some sort of cheating going on at the organization level. Perhaps what has made the Patriots so successful over the past few seasons is not that they cheat, but that they cheat the best.

aflockofsigel said...

For the record, I don't think Dan is overreacting, per se, but it does seem as though he is jumping to conclusions a bit.

Oh and I am a Patriots fan.

Mark said...

I just have trouble retroactively applying something. They cheated today so they MUST have been cheating for years...

...and I am *shocked* that other teams and coaches would come out bashing the Pats and accusing them of doing it for years, I thought they were America's Team? But accusations from people with an axe to grind isn't really proof they have been doing it for years.

Pats would be #3 for me. Cowboys #1. (Seahawks a far #2, but that's more of a love for Steve Largent days than anything).

PatriotsNation said...

Every NFL team are cheaters then the Pats just got caught :)

jhawkjjm said...

I mentioned this yesterday in the comments, why would Goodell have to warn teams against this if it wasn't a "known" problem league-wide? I don't think this is just a thing that goes on with the Patriots, I think many teams do this type of thing in different ways. They just have been so blatent or gotten caught.

CycleDan said...

If a coach sits in a press box and notices that every time a coach touches the bill of his cap, an inside blitz comes, that is reasonable. However if they continuously film the opposing coaches and correlate their signals to the plays on the field, it is easy to figure out the calls.
If you know of every blitz, every stunt, whether it is man or zone coverage on every play, then you have a HUGE advantage.

I am surprised that the cheating wasn't more elaborate.

Actually coaches did come forward. That is the reason that the NFL sent out a notice specifically warning against this type of action. Doing it publicly hurts the credibility of the game and is bad for everyone. So they tried to handle it internally. Bellichick simply didn't care and blatantly went ahead.

If I am Goodall, I suspend Bellichich, the O-coordinator and D-coordinator for 4 games. I take away a 1st adn 2nd round draft choice and fine the organization $10M. That will send a message.

PatriotsNation said...

A million dollar fine and a 6th round draft pick should be the punishment, End of Story!!

kwyjibo said...

Good thing it's not the NCAA or they might get bumped from the postseason. Now that would be a deterrent to cheating.

Mark said...

My guess is that they lose a 2nd rounder, a 2nd day pick, and some sort of fine. Cycledan's proposed punishment is just ridiculous.

Todd said...

As with every other cheating scandal, you know everyone else is cheating too, so what do you do with the rest of them? Also, it must be exceptionally easy to do this sort of thing with today's tech, this guy was just a tool for using lame tech getting caught.

In any case, if they are punished, what about lowering their salary cap by $10M next year? That would suck worse than taking even a #1 a draft pick away.

shpiders said...

The reason other coaches/teams haven't come forward with this in the past is that if you complain without any solid proof you just look like a sore loser.
The Packers almost caught the same guy doing it in the past - but from what I understand didn't actually get the tape - they just kicked him out.

So, I'd say that since this has happened before it is reasonable to bring up the super bowls. Especially since a couple were literally one play from having a different result.

Goodall cannot let the Pats off easy. He has the make this painful for them. I think he needs to fine them multiple HIGH draft picks. According to Clayton's ESPN article, the Pats #1 and #2 picks are the only ones that made the team. So fining them low draft picks is effectively doing nothing. I'd take the #1 pick this year and next or a #1 and a #2 (over 2 years).

If there is any shred of evidence that Belichick knew anything about this cheating, I think Goodall should suspend Belichick as well. 2 games at least - no participation in any team activities and not allowed in the team facilities.

I wouldn't be opposed to a large fine either.

wbira said...

Mark #1...aka Bill Simmons

GuyInTheCorner said...

My problem with this is how can they justify coming down hard on the Pats when this has been going on for years with a lot of teams?

Teams have been caught before. No one has ever been punished.

Personally, I think that the Dolphins buying audio tapes of Brady's cadence and then shutting out the Pats last year was worse.

Mort said on Mike and Mike this mourning that there have been rumors of coaches miking up a D-lineman.

Coaches hire lipreaders. That's why coaches cover their faces when making a play call. How's that different?

I feel like Goddell is trying to make a statement. The Pats were the first team that got caught during his tenure. So he's making an example.

I'm just not sure it is fair. Did Goodell say beofre the season "listen guys, we all know that you do the stealing signs thing but I want to put a stop to it"? I don't think he did because then this wouldn't have happend.

JmanTU said...

Thanks for having the balls to say what is on everyone's mind, except of course the disillusioned Pats fans whose basic response is that everyone does it and the pats just got caught...yeah ok, those fans just like th eorganization are blinded by all those rings...Goddell needs to be tough here, and send a message...I think a suspension is needed, but four games is excessive, 1 game for all three top coaches, and the loss of a 2nd and 4th round pick..THIS is CHEATING, and it needs to be punished for what it is

Stephe said...

You guys all sound like a bunch of guys who just got their asses kicked in a pickup basketball. It all sounds like "loser speak" to me.

soxfan2550 said...

Crazy thing is of course everyone knows every team does things that stretch (break?) the rules and every once in awhile gets caught…in a game of intense complexity not sure how this would give a huge advantage to anyone…classic Belichick though who is always looking for and exploiting the smallest advantage..course the piling on from the other “unnamed” coaches that he’s always been a cheater smacks of jealousy. (full disclosure as a Pats fan)

Jen said...

It's OBVIOUS that Romeo Crennel was not a part of the sign-stealing if the Pats were doing it while he was there...hence the reason the Browns suck so bad.

Cheating is cheating...if there is solid evidence to prove it, then the punishment should be severe.

I can't believe no one just goes out and plays a sport nowadays. Gosh, it's sad.

Boomhauertjs said...

I guess cheating on his wife is not the only cheating Belichick likes to do.
I think he should be suspended for a couple of games. That would send a huge message.

soxfan2550 said...

one more thing and i'll shut up...
What is also missing from this is that it was the Jets! with Mangini coaching…..if it was so obvious over the years that Belichick is a cheater wouldn’t Mangini know that and hide their signals????? interesting....

CycleDan said...

As a Jets fan, I have an innate passionate dislike of the Pats. Do I think Goodall will hand out the penalties I stated - not very likely. Still, there has been nothing worse for a long suffering Jets fan that to see Bellichick back out of being the Jets head coach and go on to win 3 with the Pats. So any and all punishment he gets is too little in my book.

Jen, there are people who do just go out and play sports. I do. However I don't earn much money doing it. Once you add money to the equation, people will do whatever they can get away with to win.

If you want pure sports, go watch a high school football game or a little league game. Then again, even high school players have been found to take PEDs.

Pat said...

Quick cospiracy theory. Bill couldn't pull the "no respect" card because everyone has crowned them already. With this every Ron Borges out there will start talking about how the Pats only win because they cheat. Plaster this all over the Pats' locker room and now the "no respect" card is back in play. Or alternatively the us against the world card. In 6 weeks Rodney Harrison will telling everyone how nobody respects the Pats or how everybody wants to see them lose. And I'll throw up in my mouth (at least about the no respect BS.) It's the only way I can see a guy as smart as Bellichick cheating so ridiculously brazenly.

Or I could have too much time on my hands. No sense using it in a productive way.

Daniel said...

I'm sorry, guys. I don't see what the problem is. If your signs are so bad that they can be decoded, then they deserve to be. Doesn't baseball use signs all the time to communitcate with the hitters and runners? Usually the base coach throws in a bunch of bogus signs along the real message. If you are allowed to communicate with your players on the field, then I should be allowed to try to decifer your communication. I don't see any difference between giving a sign to run a play and just shouting out the play.

If you still don't want the other team to know you plays, then either put radios in all of the helmets or just have one of the coaches throw out signs, bogus and real, all the time.

Dan The Man said...

Since everyone is doing it, that makes it ok? So you're using the Mike Vick defense huh?

Patriot fans are fucking morons. You fucking cheating cheat fuck cheaters.

While you're defending the new england cheatriots, why don't you go make some bets on the next dogfight you're at.

The northeast is a shithole full of morons and asswipes anyway

Dan The Man said...

BITCH ASSES

Robut M. Nixon said...

What stuns me is that Goodell not only put every team on notice when he took over--but the Patriots had already been caught doing this 4 times in the past year! Bill Polian of the Colts refused to allow any video cameras or personnel on the sidelines during last years AFC title game for this very reason. Belichick's arrogance is staggering.

And as a few others have said...why bother? I mean, the Jets are an ok team, but there's no way they beat the Pats on Sunday, cheating or not.

If Goodell is willing to suspend Vick and Pacman a full season for off-the-field incidents, wouldn't it follow that he'll throw the book at the Pats--who are basically spitting on the game's integrity?

(Actually, what really stuns me is the level of denial and rationalization from Pats fans. Unbelievable. It's like they live in another dimension.)

PatriotsNation said...

Sorry Dan the man we can't hear you with our 3 Super Bowl rings in our ears! :)

Robut M. Nixon said...
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Robut M. Nixon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan The Man said...

"Sorry Dan the man we can't hear you with our 3 Super Bowl rings in our ears! :) "


you can shove those cheating bitch ass rings up your tight anal cavity. Next, you're going to tell me that the sawks are the greatest team ever invented. And the celtics will run the table and go 82-0 next year. You fucking morons. I hope one of the tunnels collapses on you during your next drive through it.

Matt said...

How much can you really trust stealing signs? All a team needs to do is switch it up every once in a while and they should be fine. And if they don't (a la the Raiders in the Super Bowl), then it's their own damn fault. It's not like the Pat's broke into the Jet's hotel, stole a playbook, and tapped into their electronic communications.

Plus, it's not like you couldn't have someone just write down the signs and the play and do the same thing (e.g. Play 1, Coach did x, y, and z) afterwards w/the game film.

Unethical? Yes. Illegal? Not so sure.

Robut M. Nixon said...

Daniel said...

I'm sorry, guys. I don't see what the problem is. If your signs are so bad that they can be decoded, then they deserve to be. Doesn't baseball use signs all the time to communitcate with the hitters and runners? Usually the base coach throws in a bunch of bogus signs along the real message. If you are allowed to communicate with your players on the field, then I should be allowed to try to decifer your communication. I don't see any difference between giving a sign to run a play and just shouting out the play.

So...it's the Jets' fault that the Patriots flagrantly violated league rules? What if Jon Vilma had come in and hit Brady late and broken his leg? Would it be Brady's fault for not protecting himself enough?

And all teams try to read lips, yes, but Belichick took it a step further and used a camera to capture the signals. He could then compare them with the Polaroids that are (legally) taken of every formation and play as they happen, and basically have the Jets' entire playbook. That's nothing like reading lips or stealing signs in baseball. In fact, the difference between reading lips and using a camera is roughly tantamount to taking Creatine and taking steroids.

If you still don't want the other team to know you plays, then either put radios in all of the helmets or just have one of the coaches throw out signs, bogus and real, all the time.

Do you watch football? You're only allowed to have one offensive player (the quarterback) equipped with a helmet radio. Thanks for playing though.

Dan The Man said...

Mr. Shanoff-

I know we don't see eye to eye on many things, but for once you've made a lucid tactful argument. Too bad the Gators won't beat my Vols this weekend, but you enjoy Gainesville in your jean shorts.

CycleDan said...

daniel,
You don't get how easy it is to decode signs. If the signs are easy enough for a defense to understand, then they can be deciphered for baseball or football. There are always dummy signs and usually 3 coaches simultaneously signal in calls with only one of them real. The thing is that if you tape all the coaches and write down what signs they signalled and then what play is run, you can figure it out pretty quickly.

In football at least, the way around it is to use numbers for plays. They have those large play sheets taped to the QB's nonthrowing arm. So either #24 or #39 is a pro set, 424, white right or something like that. Then for each game the numbers can be changed.

In baseball it is more like when the coach taps his right shoulder, the next signal is the live one. With baseball this is even easier to figure out since either the runner is staying or trying to steal. They would need to change their signals 2x per game to avoid having the other team not be able to decode them.

Radios in the helmets are illegal except for the QB with the green circle on the back of the helmet. Also I bet it is real easy to crack which channel or coding scheme is being used.

Erik said...

How does this story get worse? I *love* this. And I *love* watching these Patriots fans rationalize their cheating organization.

And I'm going to *love* watching them get punished for it.

Daniel said...

I agree that what the Patriots did is illegal, but I am questioning whether it SHOULD be illegal or not.

If the NFL wants to keep it illegal, then give every player a radio (yes I know only the QB has a radio now).

Yes, radios can be encrypted/decrypted, athough it is becoming more difficult.

Or, just let the players call the plays themselves. Phil Jackson does it all the time.

PatriotsNation said...

Dan the Man - good comedy this morning buddy :)

Dikembe Meiztombo said...

I've said it elsewhere, and I'll say it here.

If ya ain't cheatin', ya ain't tryin'.

ToddTheJackass said...

Basically what I've gathered from reading all of this is that the Pats have essentially become the new Yankees, as in the team that everyone polarizes around, either hating them or loving them. Not a lot of middle ground.

As for this incident, I guess I agree more with what Dan titled his article 'call Belichick, Pats what they are: cheaters' than the rest of his article.

Did they cheat? Probably most certainly definitely yes. Is it altogether unsurprising given Belichick's arrogance? No, not at all. Do other teams probably do similar things? Almost certainly. Were they dumb enough/arrogant enough to get caught? Nope. Is this a crime against humanity, or even as big of a deal as Shawn Merriman testing positive for steroids? I don't really think so. Or at the very least, it's all just cheating.

Realistically, trying my best to be objective in this, I'd probably bet that if heir Roger decides that the Pats are guilty of doing what it seems like they did (cheating), Belichick would get suspended for one game, the Pats would be fined $100k, and maybe lose a 4th round pick.

As far as the NFL is concerned, I don't think they can punish the Pats for all of the hearsay from other coaches (which I bet has some truth to it), simply because there isn't the hard proof from prior incidents that there is in this one. So the punishment should be somewhere in between a first offense and a repeat offense.

GuyInTheCorner said...

I'm a Redskins fan and as I stated I think it's crazy that people are suggesting outlandish punishments.

Any team can do it. A lot of teams do it. Some teams do things that are worse. Teams have been caught in the past and not punished.

But now it is the Goodell era and the "cool" thing to do is come down hard.

Sparty said...

seems like the Pats are the real Evil Empire...

TBender said...

If you want pure sports, go watch a high school football game or a little league game.

...from the 1950's.

Those two examples are far from being pure anymore.

Sparty said...

thanks a lot for taking up space

Sparty said...

oh, and finally dan speaks in the comments!

Generik420 said...

As a Colts fan, this thoroughly amuses me. And admittedly I already have a shady opinion of the Pats. With that out in the open, I think this does at least slightly tarnish the SB wins if it is established that this has been a recurring issue with them. Considering that they won each SB by 3 points or so, there can be a strong case made that they potentially changed the outcome of 1 or 2 key plays in the game by stealing the signals. Of course, I will also say that there needs to be some evidence showing that this kind of behavior went back to those championship years.

As to a penalty.. I absolutely think Belicheck being suspended for a few games should be in consideration. And at least one of those draft picks needs to be higher in the line the 6th round. A 2nd round pick + late round + fairly hefty fine to the organization should send a good message. I would say $500k - 1mil in fine.. and if there is any provable evidence that Belicheck knew, he has to be suspended a few games and fined himself.

As an aside.. What impact does this potentially have on Belicheck as a HoFer? I think we could all basically agree he is close to a lock for the HoF. Could this damage his rep enough to prevent it from happening?

Beetle said...

Typical Shanoff hysterical reaction.
The type of practice is so common that the league issued a memo in the off season reminding teams it is not allowed.
Pats will lose the #1 they were going to get from SF and maybe another choice.
This will be long forgotten by week 6. (especially when the Pats are 6-0)
You think Dan's overreactions stems from the fact that's he's a New Yucker?

Run Up The Score! said...

Taking away draft picks isn't enough if the cheating is as bad as suspected. We should be talking about forfeiting victories and banning them from post-season play. Oh, and forcing Belichick to wear a fucking tie once in a while.

Cody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cody said...

I love the everyone's doing it argument. If I was given a ticket for speeding and went before a judge with the same argument - I need a reduction in punishment becasue anyone can do it and a lot of others are doing it; I just got caught - Think I would get anywhere?

Big D said...

Good to see John Clayton's publicist earning those billable hours this morning...

As an unabashed Patriots' pom-pom waiving fan, I will say that this is disturbing. But I will also fall back to the Ankiel/Bonds argument: prove to me that it's happened before.

Not just suspicions; show me a tape from a Packers/Jets/Colts/Cowboys game, and then I'll talk about year-long suspensions, mega fines that count against the salary cap, or multiple first day draft pick losses.

If the penalty is anything more than $1M to the organization (to a charity of the league's choice) and a 4th or lower draft pick, the the commish is simply sending a message.

Stephen said...

First of all...

The excuse that everyone else is doing it so it is ok and it shouldn't be punished, sounds like something a 10 year old would use. It's like telling a cope - Everyone is speeding officer, so I shouldn't get a ticket even though it was posted and I knew that I was breaking the rule.

Here's a football example - Everyone is taking steriods, so why should I be punished for taking them. I just happened to be the one to get caught.

In both situations. The answer is tough shit. You got caught.

Did you break a rule that was published and that you were notified about before the season? If the answer is yes then you are responsible and must be help accountable.

As for the punishment. I would guess that the NFL will fine the team (say $100,000) and fine multiple draft picks (1st in 2007, 3rd or 4th in 2008). I do think that they should suspend Coach B for a couple games. This will set the standard for future offenses, as well as try to defer future occurences.

If I was the NFL, I would be proactive. I would ban any recording devices from the stadium that are not associated with the press or the NFL employees from the field, sideline, coaching boxes, etc... (that includes phones, cameras, etc...)

Reagan Incarnate said...

Shanoff-

What is your take on the reports of multiple unauthorized radio frequencies being used by the Pats? I think this will end up being the big story behind this whole scandal.

Ken Dynamo said...

goodell must tell kraft to find out from HSI employees EXACTLY what went on, then go semi lenient on them. If it later turns out that there was MORE going on than Kraft, Belichek et all have told, then you put them hammer down a la vick and because he's lying and effing over his co-owners.

i'm hoping for NE to lose it's franchise just because boston fans deserve it as the bar none worst fans to deal with in the country.

good analysis tho dan, for real.

Wally said...

I think Bilichek has a lot of the same characteristics as VP Cheney. Both highly secretive men with a gloomy demeanor that says "I don't care what you think", both bristle at the press, and, to the disdain of their critics, both highly effective in promoting their agendas (often by whatever means necessary - means that are considered by some to be outside the rules). Obviously VP Cheney is a polarizing figure and some love him and some loath him, but that's not the point. The point is that Bilichek displays a lot of the same characteristics.

Jen said...

cycledan~ That's just it...the greed factor takes over and athletes are driven by the $$$ and don't care what it takes to become the best. The HGH and steroids are crazy!

Here is a funny quote that I may have mentioned to you guys before...the steroids are so bad in MLB that everyone is on them and now trying to get off of them. The guys that like to smoke pot are glad that all of the testing is focused on 'roids now.

BTW, I do go to high school sporting events. They are very entertaining, but I'm sure they cheat too, and they aren't getting paid, so what the heck is the problem at THAT level!?

Tribe's first pitch in 4 minutes...

TF said...

Forfeiting games? Will never happen, they can't prove they did it in every game the last 6 or so yea anyway.

You want to hurt them and teach them a lesson? Hit their pocket books. Fine them $1 Million, take away their next 2 1st rounders, and take away their franchise tag ability.

Joe (Orlando)

Jen said...

oops, time changed on me: it was 3 minutes

GuyInTheCorner said...

It's not the "everyone else is doing it" exuse, it's the "up until now everyone did it you knew it and didn't do anything" exuse.

That makes much more sense. It's not like a cop with a speeding ticket because everyone knows that if you speed you can get caught and get a ticket. It's not like steriods either because if you get caught you know you are going down.

Mort said that the league has caught teams doing this for years but nobody has ever been punished because it would be a crazy standard to enforce. Like the Kenny Rogers stick 'em/pine tar thing. You can't punish him becaus then you would have to punish everyone.

That's why it isn't fair. It's all about Goodell's ego and sending a message. Nobody has ever been punished for this before eventhough everyone knows it is done and often in forms much worse. Miking up a d-lineman and buying audio tapes from practices has got to be worse.

marcomarco said...

I'm stunned that the Patriots resorted to this measure, but am reserving judgement (unlike most of you) until all the facts surface.

I'm also stunned at all of the simmering hate thrown at the northeast. Most fans up here are foaming at the mouth, but at least they give a shit.

Most surprising, is that the 'fake cameraguy' is just sloppy. I could think of a dozen ways with cheaper technology to disguise a 'scout'.

Kindof gives the phrase "Halftime adjustments" a whole new meaning.

ly_yng said...

Steroids are dangerous, and should be punished harshly, because it is unfair to expect athletes to destroy their bodies (any more than they already do) just to stay competitive in the game they play. Steroids aren't inherently bad because they're cheating - they're inherently bad because they're unhealthy.

Cheating happens in all sports to different extents. Pretending that there isn't any grey area (like this post does) is borderline irresponsible. There is no moral high ground here. There's just someone who got caught.

Isn't this just a scaled up version of a lineman getting away with holding for a play or two? Or a basketball or soccer player selling a flop? The integrity of the game isn't at stake here. Neither is the general wellness of the players on the field.

It's not the league's place to try and protect the "sign passing" methods of teams. If Belicheck builds a better mousetrap, it's up to the other 29 teams in the league to build a better mouse.

That's just one opinion. But lets not confound this issue with steroids, cause the root dangers are much, much, MUCH less deep.

Mark said...

To me, the worst part, as a Pats fan, is that no matter what the outcome of this, the Pats still take a huge hit. If Goodell slams with an overly harsh penalty to send a message it obviously hurts the team and if he goes lenient on them Shanoff and everyone else who wants to see the Pats crash and burn have more reason than ever to hate the Pats.

My one question for everyone is this: If it's a different team, say the Lions, who are in this same situation, are you still as outraged and bloodthirsty?

marcomarco said...

Re: Lions

Excellent point, Mark.

Jonathan said...
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Jonathan said...

If the lions were cheating nobody woul care because clearly they got no advantage out of it. They haven't had a winning season since Bush's father was pres.

Scooter McGavin said...

You say that the Pats are a team that is smart and well-run. Well they are only considered smart and well-ran because they win (you never hear that about losing teams) and maybe they have been able to win consistantly because they cheat not because the are smart and well-run. And smart can definately go out the window now that they have been caught cheating.

Jonathan said...

BTW Mark, what would be your reaction if it was the Colts who got caught cheating?

eileen said...

Agree that this isn't comparable to steroids, at all. Taking steroids without a prescription is A. illegal in this country and B. a health risk (cancer, depression, 'roid rage, etc.). Videotaping another team is against NFL policy, but neither illegal nor dangerous.

Teams have always tried to decode other teams' signals, by hiring lip readers, buying audio tapes, or whatever. If they get caught, they should be punhised for breaking the rules, but Danwagon and some of the commenters' shock and outrage seem excessive. The Patriots should be punished, but for this incident only. I don't think their superbowl wins or past sucesses are tarnished at all. Although there are rumors of past spying, as far as I know, there isn't any solid evidence.

Oh, and do you think Belichick really gives a crap if he's in the Football Hall of Fame? I'm going with NO on that one.

Jonathan said...

They would never take away the Super Bowl wins, but they are now going to be lableed as cheaters regardless. So whenever Pats fans talk about how great all those teams are all you have to say is that they are a bunch of cheaters and that Big Bill is a world class jerk. Hey Congrats on the wins though, they were awesome.

Mark said...

I think I would expect the same punishment that I'm expecting for the Pats. A 2nd and 5th or 6th round pick and a fine.

And my other reaction would also be the same and that is how the hell could they be so stupid to be so blatant about it??

I also think that this is definitely no worse than the Broncos winning back to back SBs in years where they illegally circumvented the salary cap and when they were caught 3 years later the team's punishment was the loss of a 3rd rounder and (I think) a $950k fine.

Jen said...

Belichick is a robot...I seriously doubt he gives a frog's fat arse about being in the HOF.

Brian in Oxford said...

Why don't they just make it legal to do this stuff?

If the video was confiscated by the league, that means it never got back to the coaches in time for them to decipher and counterplan the signals anyway, no?

Or here's an idea, let the players call their own defenses. Eliminate coach-player headset communication altogether, and suddenly none of these coaches can be seen as master chess players controlling everything, and we'll just have a bunch of athletes determining the outcomes.

WedgeMcWedgy said...

Here is what is puzzling me with all the hoopla over this thing:

IF the Patriots were caught cheating in a game versus the Jets and only that game...

how is the punishment not: The games results are forfeited changing Patriots to loss and jets to win?

It seems like that would be the only logical move. You have evidence that they cheated in the process of winning a game, the seemingly perfectly fitting judgment is to take away what they gained from cheating.

TF said...

Mark circumventing the cap v. illegally reading a team's defensive calls...

Be serious, while I agree both should be punished, football is about playcalling and executing. Teams win because they are better at executing the plays (mostly because they have better players) However, when you give one side the illegally enhance advantage of the playcalling portion it's just downright unfair.

Joe(Orlando)

rex said...

This is really serious. I think the league should force the Krafts to sell the franchise and move it to LA. The would teach them!

ToddTheJackass said...

Perhaps Belichick should lose a testicle. The question is which testicle was more involved with the cheating... I'm betting the left.

Am I the only person who thinks the punishment ought to fit the crime, and that the real crime was being so stupid as to get caught doing this?

David "SirFozzie" Yellope said...

Your hate for the northeast tastes delicious.

The crap on the message boards I'm reading is hilarious. "Make them forfeit! Ban Belichick from the hall of fame! Make Bob Kraft sell the team".. and these are all serious here.

Oh.. here's something else for you to chew on when your ranting and raving and calling for first rounders, etcetera.. This is minor shit compared to some of the other stuff that's gone on, at least it's ON THE FIELD.

Imagine a team cheats the salary cap. Not talking about a minor mistake. We're talking hiding deferred payments totalling about $29 million from the cap. And then, in a seperate issue it is proven that they cheated on the salary cap for three years running. In those three years, they win two superbowls. You'd be howling up a storm. You'd call for them to be Joe Smithed, never to have a first round draft pick again, right? It's spitting on the competitive balance of the NFL, and must be punished harshly, right?

Well, in the case of the Denver Broncos, they were fined heavily (nearly $2 million over two seperate fines).. but they only lost two third round draft picks.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28969-2004Sep17.html

So get a sense of scale here, folks.

Big D said...

@TF:

"Teams win because they are better at executing the plays (mostly because they have better players)..."


Um, doesn't that kind of prove the point that salary cap cheating is a bigger violation? Like, you skirt the cap to get better players?

Matt said...

After all of the stuff that went on last year with the Pats and the Dolhpins and then with the memo sent out by Goodell in the off-season, anyone have a suspicion as to why the tape was confiscated in the first quarter of the first game of the season? Piling on that that it was against the Jets and Mangini, smells like this was in the works before the game was even started.

But, Shanoff your "instant history" runs rampant again. Chill out, dude. You act like the Patriots were electrocuting dogs on the sideline. This is the most overblown story of the year. I like your blog, but then you put up a post like this is totally fuck everything up with your "Hey! My opinion matters!" attitude. This affects the Patriot Super Bowls? Get over yourself. I'm not saying this is the case, but you could be a total d-bag for this post.

Here you are talking about the CIA-level of security Belichick and the NFL holds and how its oh-so-terrible. How about you tell as to what happened with you and ESPN? Until you do, your opinion on someone withholding information is baseless.

GuyInTheCorner said...

The thought of them giving up the game to the Jets because they cheated therefore it must be counted as a loss makes a whole lote of no sense.

When a guy tests positive for PEDs do the games he played in get overturned?

No. But he was cheating. And in a more active way.

TF said...

@TF:

"Teams win because they are better at executing the plays (mostly because they have better players)..."

Um, doesn't that kind of prove the point that salary cap cheating is a bigger violation? Like, you skirt the cap to get better players?


Not really, skirting a couple salaries (I believe it was not that big of a change) is not going to guarentee any sort of on field advantage that stealing signs using an artificial device to relay.

I have no problems stealing signs using your eyes and eyes, but come one to even justify the fact that it is even CLOSE to the violation the Broncos had is silly.

I know many NE fans are trying like hell to justify this, but they purposely used artifical technology in secret to steal signs!

Joe (Orlando)

TF said...

Let me add, I remember hearing about the Broncos dealing and I believed then they should have been fined to hell and lost draft picks.

However, too many people on here are doing what my clients do every freaking day. Well ________ did it, and he got off with time served. Why can't I get get the same deal. Just like I'd tell them...this isn't your 1st offense, and therefore your no privy to the mininmal punishment. The Patriots have been caught before and what did they doi? Kept those cameras rolling.

Guess what cheating is cheating and while the precedent is not high for teams like the Broncos and players using PEDs; in a game where technology plays such a large part of the system it's abuse of that aforementioned system. These technological advances have not been implemented in any sport other than football. Baseball has always been very very protective of the existenxe of sign stealing to the point where cell phones, etc are not allowed in the dugouts or bullpens.

Simply put the Patriots cheated, your coach admitted to it, the league has determined it, and it might have helped you win the football game this past Sunday.

The Patriots sure as hell deserve every thing to make them an example. And I'm not talking about forfeitures or loss of Super Bowl championships. I'm talking killer fines, loss of future draft picks, and loss of their ability to put the franchise tag on a player.

The use of this technology in this manner severely undermines the legitimacy of the game.

So please save the "Broncos salary cap", "PED", and other talks and understand that the Patriots abuse of the technology that the NFL has allowed will lead them to be made an example, and they deserve every penalty., especially since it is their second time being caught.

Joe (Orlando)

David "SirFozzie" Yellope said...

if a Tape confiscated unseen in the first quarter helped them win, I don't think the Jets had much of a chance anyhoo.

Erik said...

guyinthecorner:

The administration of a team has plausible deniability if one of its players takes PEDs. Are you going to suggest that the administration of a team doesn't know when that administration itself is cheating?

Lorenzo said...

Hi.

First, there are 2 types of crimes: 1) those that are bad in itself, and 2) those that are bad because they are illegal, because the rules prohibit them.

For the first type, no matter how many people do it, it's still wrong and must be punished. For the second type, there is some argument, and when people say "everyone else is doing it anyway", what they mean is "your rule is not a rule at all, because no one follows it anyway, and therefore the rule should be abolished and we should not be penalized".

Now which one does stealing signals fall under? We seem to be divided on this as well. I'm no NFL watcher, and I was surprised when I read this story because it is done at almost every level in other sports as accepted practice; softball/baseball, basketball, football set-pieces, chess. Are we not allowed to try to predict what the opponent will do anymore?

Lorenzo said...
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Stephe said...

I'm curious to what sign the Pats were able to steal. Unless the sign was "don't be able to cover Randy Moss even with three guys" then I'm sure this will have no effect on the Pats. Kraft will absorb the fine and the Pats will keep killing the Jets. They did fine the last time the NFL made them forfeit picks to the Jets, in fact, I think it has fueled the fire that started the Hammer/Nail type of rivalry that Pats/Jets have turned into. You can't blame the Jets or their fans. I would try to beat the Pats off the field as well.

Cody said...

Stealing the signs is not the "crime" here. You can steal signals/signs through the use of the naked eye or even use binoculars. The "crime" here is video taping the signs/signals. People compare it to baseball, but you don't see some one in the dugout setting up video surveillance equipment pointed in the direction of the other teams dugout.

marcomarco said...

One thing is certain.

Sunday night football ratings this week will rival the Super Bowl.