Tip to KingRichard for blogging about this first.
After a long meeting with US Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that New England coach Bill Belichick has been illegally taping opposing teams since he took over as head coach of the Patriots in 2000. This means that for 112 regular season games and 15 NFL post-season games, including 3 Super Bowls, Bill Belichick has been deploying videographers on the sidelines in an attempt to steal signs from the opposing team. Currently, there is no evidence in the NFL's possession that confirms Goodell's assertion, which he claims he got from Belichick himself. Goodell destroyed all tapes handed to them by Belichick... all six of them, and none going back further than 2006.
Somehow, if Belichick has been taping since 2000, I highly doubt the Patriots only had six friggin' tapes in their possession.
Now, let's not beat around the bush here boys and girls: This is a very serious set of circumstances, and the two people who look the most foolish out of all this (and who should swing for it) are Bill Belichick and Roger Goodell. Goodell claims Belichick did the taping thinking it was legal, even though the NFL rule book makes it pretty clear, in black and white, that it's illegal to do such taping. The "I didn't know it was illegal" argument was used by Billy Boy back in September, when the NFL caught him taping the NY Jets in the first regular season games. The argument was thrown out by Goodell, who fined Belichick and the Pats over $750,000 and docked them a first round pick this year.
So, tell me, if the precedent for taping one game, just one, is a $750,000 fine and a first round pick, what's the punishment for doing it over 125 times, including (potentially) during three Super Bowls?
You can rest assured I, and folks like KingRichard, will be blogging about this for a while now. This is shocking for me one two levels:
- Why didn't Goodell tell us fans about this when Belichick was first punished? Apparently, after reading his comments yesterday, he's known this since September. This whole thing reeks of a cover-up by Goodell and the NFL. Destroying evidence that could potentially reveal that the best team of the last few years was cheating is as bad as the cheating itself.
- If Belichick has indeed been cheating since 2000, I certainly feel my team was cheated out of at least one Super Bowl. If those two playoffs games in Foxboro between the Colts and Pats 2004 and 2005 were not played under fair conditions, and if Belichick was taping during those games, I cannot begin to express my utter disgust with the NFL and how it ripped me off.
However, the NFL makes a great deal of money, and is able to function, because the government gives it special exemption as an anti-trust entity. Without this, there is no NFL. The condition of that exemption is that the games are played fairly. Teams and individuals abide by rules, and when they don't they are punished accordingly. NFL owners make a great deal of money off stadiums financed by the public. The reason the public finances those stadiums, rather than using the money to improve schools, bridges, roads, hospitals, etc., is because they assume the games are played fairly. So, it is very important that the government oversee the NFL and make sure they hold up their end of the bargain.
If they don't, and it seems here that Goodell did not, then Senators like Mr. Specter are supposed to investigate. It's how they keep the NFL honest, and if the NFL and Bill Belichick are not being honest, the public (ie you and me) expect heads to roll. This could get ugly people, but regardless of how ugly, we want the truth. So, bravo to Sen. Specter who investigating this, and we anxiously await further developments.