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.
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.
So, let's tally this up:
- Their starting safety and veteran leader, Rodney Harrison, was suspended for taking HGH.
- One of their multimedia people was caught video taping the NY Jets coaches in order to record their calls to the field.
- It seems they tried to tap into the Jets radio communications as well. Read the rest of ESPN's article for details on that.
Folks, it just doesn't get any more pathetic than this. I mean really, what moron would feel they needed to cheat in order to beat THE JETS? No offense to Jetfighter, but the Patriots flat out own the Jets. With their roster and their coaches, the Patriots would just need to show up to beat them.
This kind of violation goes beyond the usual crap we see coming from New England, like watering their home field before gameday or mugging receivers in the AFC Championship Game in 2003. The Patriots were caught red-handed cheating, as in breaking the rules to gain a competitve advantage. They have been suspected of doing this for years.
Now, there's proof.
There is nothing more disgusting in sports than cheating. I can take players snorting coke, getting a happy ending from a hooker, or the occasional drunken owner making stupid statements. Cheating? That's pretty unforgivable. The sad thing is you are going to see a plethora of excuses from the Patriots fanbase. Rather than demand accountability from Belichick, Pioli, and Kraft (the men ultimately responsible for this), they'll simply dimiss or ignore it, as they did here.
One thing is for sure: No matter what New England does this year, it's a tainted season. God knows how much cheating they've gotten away with. Remember, this is not the first time they've been cited for this. Perhaps Tomlinson's definition of Patriots football is indeed fitting:
BTW, funny line from Mark Schlereth on ESPN News:
Update [2007-9-11 20:34:39 by BigBlueShoe]: This is one of the few times I've actually found something written by Mike Florio worthwhile:
Thus, the Patriots knew that other people know what was happening. And yet they kept on doing it.
If all of this is true, it reflects a dangerous amount of arrogance in that team's coaching staff. In fact, our guess is that, now that the poo has hit the propeller, whoever put this system in place will privately justify it after the fact by explaining that, in the end, the cost was far less than the benefits that have been derived.
And it makes us -- and likely many others -- wonder how far back all of this goes. How many Lombardis are potentially tainted? How many of the games during that record-setting winning streak? Regardless of the lost draft picks, which mean much less in the salary cap era than they used to, there's now a stain on the NFL first dynasty of the new century. How far it spreads and how deep it goes remains to be seen.