So, who had Matt Estrella -- and not Randy Moss -- in the first Patriots scandal of the season?
Whether you believe in spy-gate as some ludicrous media creation of retaliatory proportions or a common ground for NFL teams that the Patriots just happened to get busted on, the bottom line is that it is an ugly stain for Bill Belichick and the Patriots franchise, which we're told is supposed to be the model franchise of the NFL. Some model.
We're now about to find out just how duplicitous Belichick really is -- as if we didn't have proper background already for such research. Will he try to escape the charges by throwing a 26-year-old kid under the bus for doing his job? Will he feign any knowledge of the videotape ever existing? And will he escape any possible suspension the league decides to dole out? Sirius NFL Radio today reported that while Belichick did not meet with Goodell in New York, he did state his case over the phone.
We keep hearing about draft picks and fines as the assumed punishment for the team's part in this, situations that must make Belichick scoff. But as Mike Florio puts it on profootballtalk.com, "If Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson gets parked for five games because he purchased HGH for his own personal use, the head coach of a team that is committing a blatant violation of the rules for competitive advantage should be suspended much longer than that."
That's a punishment that Gary Myers of the New York Daily News agrees with: "If Belichick set up the spy ring, it means he cheated, and cheaters must be disciplined. He should not only be suspended for a game, but just as important, be banned from the Patriots facility for the entire week leading up to the game. No meetings. No practice."
How good are the Patriots really? Are we about to find out?
It's been humorous to witness the reaction from Kool-Aid Nation as this story has played out this week. While many Patriots fans are rightfully embarrassed by the scandal, there are the die-hards who insist this has to be some sort of media retribution toward Belichick because -- and I swear an e-mailer suggested this one yesterday -- he has boring press conferences. Yes. Yes, that's it.
The reality might be that more coaches than we know do this. But it was Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff who were stupid and arrogant enough to do it to former Patriots coach Eric Mangini, who apparently sold his former mentor down the river.
According to Rich Cmini of the New York Daily News, Mangini had shared the Belichick practice with members of the Jets upon his arrival last season, but the team had not been able to bust them until the fourth meeting between the two teams on Sunday.
Cmini also has details of how Estrella was caught:
New details came to light yesterday. The cameraman, wearing a team polo shirt under the league-mandated sideline photographer's vest, was stopped by security as he tried to enter the New England locker room before halftime, sources said. An animated discussion ensued, involving league security, Jets security and Patriots security.
The dispute, which occurred in the bowels of the stadium, lasted more than an hour, virtually the entire second half. At one point, it became so heated that New Jersey state troopers were summoned as a precaution, a source said. The Jets apparently were trying to confiscate the videotape, which wound up in the possession of NFL security. The tape was placed in a box, sealed and forwarded to the league.
"He looked scared to death," one source said of Estrella.
If you had to face the wrath of one Bill Belichick, wouldn't you? From Genius to Snoop Dogg.
This isn't the first time that Belichick has been suspected of utilizing video cameras on the sidelines. Steelers coaches told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they would change their hand signals whenever Pittsburgh played the Patriots because of suspicions. The article also points out, "The Steelers twice lost third-round draft choices for minor violations of NFL rules. They were caught wearing shoulder pads in a minicamp in 1978 and lost a pick in the 1979 draft. They were found in a minor violation of the salary cap and lost a pick in the 2001 draft."
Bob Glauber of Newsday writes that these whispers have gone on for months, particualrly after NFL owners decided to nix a proposal that would give headset-to-helmet communications for defenses, similar to those for quarterbacks. "Such a setup would prevent teams from stealing the defensive signals," writes Glauber. "One team suspected of stealing those signs by videotaping them: the Patriots."
You think that might be looked at again?
Maybe the punishment shouldn't be as ludicrous as Steve Serby's inane suggestion that they play Sunday's game over again, but a suspension certainly might not be out of the question. But even with a minor slap on the wrist, the penalty might be justified. No matter what the Patriots pull off this season, including a Super Bowl run, their credibility has been breached. The always prevalent doubters will only multiply as the season wears on; and once New England redeems itself in Super Bowl glory, it very well could be the final act of a coach who has left every stop in his career on less than honorable terms.
Think Gestapo Goodell and the NFL want proven cheaters winning the Super Bowl? That alone might be why the punishment will go beyond a simple fourth-round draft pick.
With even the most loyal Patriots fans already getting squirmy, Bob Kraft has to be livid with the rumors swirling around his team. If this isn't Belichick's final year with the franchise, as some have opined what with his unsettled contract situation and a probable opening with the Giants, will Kraft make it so? Florio goes on to ask: "Will Kraft pull the plug on Belichick? The owner arguably could fire Belichick for cause, and owe him nothing under his contract, assuming it runs beyond 2007. Still maybe Kraft will want to see Belichick win a Super Bowl or two 'fair and square,' which will tend to quiet the Barry Bonds-style concerns that already are being raised as to those three championships in four seasons."
This is a bad week to be a Patriots fan, or at least one that lives in reality, because your team was stupid enough to get caught and now will pay the price. You've learned that "The Patriot Way" is a load of garbage, that Belichick resorts to cheating to one-up his opponents. And whether that's just like everybody else, nobody else was arrogant enough to do it to a colleague who is doing his best to take down his former master.
Last edited by Green Jets & Ham; 09-13-2007 at 07:01 AM.