Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Feb 2008

PLEASE USE: Irrational Spygate Argument Thread

Well, we thought Spygate was dead and gone, but apparently not. So here is how we are going to work this. All discussion of Spygate, Patriots cheating, or cheating by any other team goes in this thread. It does not matter if you think the Patriots are evil, or if you think the Patriots are getting a raw deal. As we learned long ago with Brady-Manning debates, this is the only way to keep the rest of the website sane. We're suspending the rules here. Go ahead, attack each other all you want. Feel free to mention politics. (Thanks to the Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania, you pretty much don't have a choice.) Any discussion of this issue in any other discussion thread will be deleted.

The goal here is not censorship. The goal here is to make sure the discussion threads remain a good user experience.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Feb 2008

951 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2008, 6:47pm by Andy Sedgwick

Comments

601
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 02/26/2008 - 7:02pm

> This could and should have all come to (national) light back in September when they were first discussing it, on-air mind you.

Not if Tomase didn't have such a confession from Matt Walsh on the record, which I seriously doubt he did (I don't think he'd hold a story five months, hoping for the Patriots' participation in the Super Bowl). Perhaps not coincidentally, Tomase's story only ran right after Arlen Specter started making noise, followed by Walsh responding to that noise at length in an interview with ESPN in which he made several cryptic statements about possessing evidence.

I think based in bias some fans are misguided here, or at the very least naive. A confirmed ex-employee stepping forward and offering such a confession *is* news, even if it later turns out that he was lying (unless it's obvious that he's lying for a purpose, and there's motive and some good evidence that he's lying). That's the nature of the business-- hell, our very own FO has run Extra Points based on mere rumor. And who cares about the timing? Is the objection that the story detracted from the wonderfulness that is Super Bowl media week? A story runs when there is a story, and it's not the Boston Herald's obligation to schedule the news, nor should it be.

602
by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:54am

The story is not news YET. Everything published was all known for months prior to the 2 articles on SB weekend. But there is no confirmed information.

The timing on the ESPN came about based on Specter's issues (RE:post 66), but you'd have to call Specter's timing into question.
And there is no "confession" from Walsh. He has not said one thing yet. ESPN decided to publish a story anyways. Read it again, then read the public mini-whipping Fish and Easterbrook get from Leann Schreiber, ESPN's ombudsman.

The Boston Herald piled on by publishing an unconfirmed story with no sources. For what it's worth, they usually take their shots from the "Inside Track" gossip columnists, but the Herald seemed to have something to gain from it. Maybe they're getting big ad money every time someone clicks on their link.

IN BOTH CASES, there is NO STORY. In both cases, there are major displays of POOR JOURNALISM.

This is not to say that nothing happened. But none of the basic questions (who what when why where, anyone remember 1st grade?) have been answered yet. You can't expect to publish a story without having answered these questions and be considered credible...but then there's the general public...

603
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2008 - 12:44pm

> The Boston Herald piled on by publishing an unconfirmed story with no sources.

This is my objection-- unless John Tomase was outright lying, he did have a source, and that source was a member of the Patriots' organization (I've assumed along with everyone else that this source was Walsh, but it need not be). Sure, the source is unnamed, but that's hardly uncommon. (I'm only commenting on the Herald article here; very obviously Gregg Easterbrook has engaged in sheer speculation, and even if he qualifies that speculation it still may represent irresponsible journalism in advancing total hypotheticals.)

The corroboration by multiple sources is also a red herring, when the inside source is providing first-hand testimony, on the record. Just as an example, in the Roger Clemens fiasco the most serious allegations come entirely from a single witness with only circumstantial evidence supporting those claims. That may not represent absolute proof, but there's still a story there. Same here; Tomase repeated first-hand testimony but I saw absolutely no claim of its veracity. But is the story even convincing? Not hardly, but if a team ex-employee makes such a claim, I think it's worthy of presentation and then further examination.

Just suppose for a moment that Tomase's story is eventually validated-- then he goes from "irresponsible journalist" to prescient investigator. That's just the nature of the business; there are no hard and fast rules but if the journalist follows his instincts and consistently weighs his sources accurately, yes, certainly he will have more credibility. I don't dispute that if Walsh (or the unnamed source) proves to be a complete fraud it does not reflect well on Tomase, but I still believe he had enough to run a story, certainly legally (unless he's lying of course, which I seriously doubt).

604
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2008 - 1:07pm

> Read it again, then read the public mini-whipping Fish and Easterbrook get from Leann Schreiber, ESPN’s ombudsman.

I researched this claim (article linked), and there was hardly such a "whipping" from the ESPN ombudsman, rather the opposite-- a justification of both stories, if not a validation of their subject, Matt Walsh (of course not):

"We were not ready to run a story using Matt Walsh's comments," King said, "but once the New York Times identified him as a potential witness in Congressional hearings, we thought we should contribute what we knew about him."

That was a judgment call, and I think a reasonable one. The risk, given ESPN's power to direct the national sports conversation, is that it may have helped give a huge amplified megaphone to an unreliable source.

And what was Easterbrook's role?

"He got an anonymous tip about Walsh back in September, which he passed on to us after he began talking to him," King said. "We assigned Mike Fish to report out the story, and eventually that led to Mike's going to Hawaii, where Walsh lives, to do an interview."

Easterbrook may have taken some satisfaction in rain falling on the Patriots' parade, but he was not the rainmaker on Super Bowl weekend. Blame for that goes to Specter and the New York Giants.

605
by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2008 - 1:14pm

It used to be that the standard for journalistic integrity was confirming all facts with 2 sources. Now journalistic integrity is an oxymoron.
(Besides this story, the NY Times McCain story had a similar structure.)
Assuming there is a walkthrough tape and more information, I'd have preferred proof that they had it, and proof of who used it in superbowl preparation, and proof of how it was used. If 2 confirmed sources (whether named or unnamed) is not the standard anymore, at least give us answers. And if you're granting yourself some type of journalistic license to run it without answers, you had better be a reputable news source. But if you're granting yourself license to run this type of story, it's probable that you're NOT a reputable news source. That paper has spent the past 2 weeks discussing the possibility of Brady's male pattern baldness.
Where's Will McDonough when you need him?

606
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2008 - 1:34pm

> Where’s Will McDonough when you need him?

I wouldn't go there. Will McDonough routinely used column space to beat up on sports personalities based entirely on his personal version of the truth, and perhaps his signature piece on journalistic ethical misdeed should have been titled as (in accordance with truth-in-advertising laws): "Bill Parcells: the story of my exit from the New England Patriots, as told to my dear lifelong friend Will McDonough".

I would submit that the hard-and-fast journalistic standard you have cited has never existed, and rather that the rule of personal judgment has been in place since the advent of the printed word. Unfortunately in Tomase's case, we don't yet know the details of his connections. His source could prove to be rock-solid, or to be practically non-existent (I acknowledge either possibility). This story has not yet completely played out yet.

607
by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2008 - 7:58pm

I know commenting on McDonough is a bit of an off-topic tangent, but I remember the Parcells-Kraft story as 2 entire Boston Globe pages with complete direct quotes from multiple sides of the story. And it came out after the Green Bay Superbowl. We were all still pissed at Parcells when it came out. I'd admit that McDonough put himself into that story too much (he talked of initiating a reconciliatory meeting after the Terry Glenn draft pick), and if anything, he sided with Parcells. McDonough had the same agent and lifted most of his info from him.

Despite being unpopular, McDonough was spot on about most of his stuff (I'd refer to his NFL strike and Clemens / Mo Vaughn columns. Remember, at the time, we were pissed at Dan Duquette for the Clemens and Vaughn
stuff).
Regardless, I believe all sides of the Parcells-Kraft story were represented throughly, and this is what we need here in Spygate-land.
But that's just from memory. With nothing in front of me, I suppose through this tangent I'm chasing the perception of integrity, not actual integrity.
But I'm starting to get the feeling you'd rather read a linked column as-is rather than have nothing at all. That's just not me. I consider Tomase's writings a rumor at this point, and think it's worse when these rumors are published by a multimillion dollar newspaper. They're lending themselves to speculation. From my perspective, there's no reason to publish this other than profit.

608
by wyote (not verified) :: Sun, 03/02/2008 - 4:58pm

Is anyone denying the Patriots cheated?

(Let's start this over again.)

609
by TomHat (not verified) :: Mon, 03/03/2008 - 7:19pm

lucy is so hawt.

610
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Tue, 03/04/2008 - 10:36pm

Between SpyGate, the SB loss, and Asante's comment that he "just wants to go someplace he can win a Super Bowl", I have become less a fan of football.

The Patriots right now are like that uncle who gets way too drunk at family gatherings. You still love him, but you wish he would clean himself up, and you will wait awhile until you look forward to seeing him again.

Also, Specter is a fool.

611
by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 3:46pm

Wait, don't you mean that uncle who won too many of the backyard family volleyball games, and because everyone else is jealous of all the winning, they all gang up and focus on a past affair for which he has already paid his pennance?
Although to tie off the metaphor, this would have to somehow make him a better volleyball player, so maybe his affair was with Kerri Walsh?
And the new allegations are a possible affair with Misty May Treanor? Is this doing anything for anyone? Stupid Lucy.

612
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 2:18pm

Something new in spygate related news.

Goddell just promised an extreme crackdown on spying, including surprise inspections of teams' locker rooms, coaches booths, and stadiums, "increased scrutiny" by league officials during team practices, harsher penalties for violaters, especially regarding draft pick forfeitures, and lower standards for proof...

Not stating which side I'm on, but I'm curious what people's thoughts are...is it "about time, and honest teasm have nothing to worry about", or is it a "witch hunt and Goddell turning the NFL into a police state"? What do people think?

613
by BXRICK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 4:59pm

#613: I think it gives some credence to the Patriots fans' cries of "but everyone does it!"

I mean, why would Goodell think this necessary but that a lot of teams are "messing around."?

614
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 7:05pm

"too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because inconclusive proof of the violation was lacking."

There is NO lack of proof that tampering is present in free agency signings.

Where's Philadelphia's fine and/or loss of a draft pick?

So far, we've only witnessed selective enforcement to appease the general public.

While I think locker room or press box communication audits are acceptable if they don't interfere with the game, I'm skeptical that it will happen. At this point, it's just a page out of Arlen Specter's Book of Posturing and Podium Pounding.

615
by BDC (not verified) :: Sun, 03/09/2008 - 10:03am

611:

No, I think he means the Uncle who won the last three family volleyball games in a close match and you always wondered if something suspicious was going on, and then you find out he is a cheater so you keep an eye on him for the next game and surprise surprise, without being able to cheat he loses, thus validating your earlier suspicion.

:)

616
by RCH (not verified) :: Sun, 03/09/2008 - 6:56pm

BDC you nailed it. Without their ill gotten spy tapes the Patriots stumbled through a perfect regular season. They then won two playoff games handily instead of going away. Then they narrowly lost in the Superbowl on a miraculous play. The tapes explain it all.

617
by MJK (not verified) :: Sun, 03/09/2008 - 9:04pm

RCH, you're right!

If only they'd had some tapes of the Giants defensive staff, then Asante Samuel would have held on to that interception. Or even if he hadn't, then they would have known that Eli would then escape three near certain sacks and heave up a prayer, and have a little used backup receiver catch it with his helmet. Then they could have gameplanned for that! If only they'd had those tapes, they would have won the SB!

618
by Dutch (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 2:37am

The 2007 Patriots were a heavily talented team. They had wapons all over the place. look what Moss did for Randle C in minny for Ex? the 2007 Pats did not need help from video tapes. But the prior years? absolutely. Those teams won 3 SB's and did not have anything close to the most talent. They got their edge by cheating. Tom brady's number 1 trait is his supposed ability to read a Def quickly. and now we no why. He knew what was coming. He can thank Belichick and Ernie Adams.

619
by cd6! (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 8:47am

Today there's a story on SI.com saying the NFL and Walsh are nearing a deal that will allow Walsh to testify, including handing over any tapes he's got.

Sehr interresant.

Don't know about the rest of ya'll, but I'm on the edge of MY seat. I hope there's footage of Belichick stealing candy from a two year old or something else equally morally abhorant, and we'll finally have this miserable POS out of the league for good.

620
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 9:28am

I can't wait for the story, I think it's more likely that Belichick not only wanted to take the candy from 2 year olds, he wanted to make it so toddlers could never enjoy candy again, so he murdered them all and harvested their organs for a Patriot feast.

And once BB's out of the league, we can start our witch hunt on QB's with good pre-snap recognition. First we'll out Peyton Manning, then we take away all of Joe Montana's awards. Then finally, we give the Cardinals organization every Superbowl, since there is no way those teams ever cheated.

Anyways, Fish needs to write the whole story, beginning to end, fact for fact. This way we no longer have to dive into the irrational while we wait.

621
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 9:59am

The most comprehensive information on Matt Walsh to date, although it's slanted against him.

Make sure you read the part about why he was dismissed from the Springfield College Golf Team.

622
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 10:02am

Herm? #620:

Then finally, we give the Cardinals organization every Superbowl, since there is no way those teams ever cheated.

Oh how ignorant you are young Jedi!

The Cardinals only "title" ever was stolen by them from the Pottstown Maroons after the Cardinals cheated by paying their final opponent to play them using high schoolers to fill out the roster. The Bidwell's seized this title in 1933 after the league had denied it to the previous owners in 1925 and have been keeping a firm grasp on it ever since.

623
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 10:04am

Dutch #618:

look what Moss did for Randle C in minny for Ex?

Isn't it what Randall Cunningham did for Moss? Its not like it was the first time Cunningham had thrown for 30 touchdowns and nearly 4000 yards. See 1990, etc.

624
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 10:22am

Andrew, I actually read that story for the first time this year. I think PK brought that tidbit to recent light for those of us who weren't in the know. I think he also mentioned coffee & travel.

Well, if we can't give Superbowls to the Cardinals, what do we do? There has to be a team out there with no history of winning and no allegations of cheating.

625
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 11:30am

> The most comprehensive information on Matt Walsh to date, although it’s slanted against him.

The key piece of information in this latest story is that Walsh possesses some physical evidence, presumed to be videotapes. So what's on the tapes?-- more defensive signals, or something more? The rest (Walsh's questionable character etc.) may be interesting but doesn't much matter...

626
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 11:45am

> The Cardinals only “title” ever was stolen by them from the Pottstown Maroons after the Cardinals cheated by paying their final opponent to play them using high schoolers to fill out the roster.

The Chicago Cardinals won a legitimate NFL title in 1947. Unless there was illicit filming of opponents involved...

The 1925 situation is an interesting case. I hadn't heard of any shenanigans being involved in the Cardinals' final games, but Pottsville actually played two less league games (after beating the Cardinals head-to-head in their final game of the season) in order to play a couple exhibitions, including against a Notre Dame All-Star team (in order to make more money, obviously). The matter didn't even seem to be of the utmost concern at the time (although Pottsville was warned of league suspension if they played the exhibitions), as the league was more concerned with its financial survival. The title question may best be settled by a coinflip...

627
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 1:36pm

Can somebody please explain to me why nobody has mentioned a word about Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys using the same tactics the Patriots used?

Is the NFL trying to sweep that under the rug as well?

Did it happen too long ago?

I'm shocked at the lack of consistency among the league, media and fans.

Please see the link in my name.

628
by BDC (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 4:51pm

627:

Because the title of the thread is "the irrational spygate argument thread", not, "the irrational whatever anyone else might have done wrong thread".

629
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 5:06pm

But why aren't the Cowboys lumped in the same Spygate category? Jimmy Johnson admitted it. Why doens't anyone want to speak to video assistants who worked for the Cowboys in the 90's?

This reeks of a huge double standard.

630
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 5:20pm

Herm? #624:

There has to be a team out there with no history of winning and no allegations of cheating.

Roar go the LIONS as the SAINTS strum on their harps, FALCONS swooping over their heads in the clouds.

631
by RCH (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 7:02pm

Walsh's character is relevant because there are potentially multiple ways to interpret any tapes that he may have. For example, assuming that he was an eager go getter, is it so inconceivable that he might gone above and beyond what his bosses asked, taping things that he was not directed to? The mere existence of tapes does not prove that BB knew about them or used them.

As for Jimmy Johnson's admission - we need to understand that the primary motive for Goodell's punishment of BB was not the theoretical advantage gained by illegal taping. Rather it was his blatant disregard for the recent league memo forbidding the activity. So while Johnson verifies what reasonable people have known all along - the matter is off of Goodell's radar because it wasn't an egregious violation of a recent rules clarification.

632
by BDC (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 7:02pm

629:

"This reeks of a huge double standard."

No, this reeks of a huge grasping at straws. The fact is the Pats were caught cheating. It is becoming evident that this was not a one time thing, but this was a systematic approach that the Pats followed. Coupled with the fact that they won a few VERY close SBs, it does raise into question the validity of those games. Now, the outcome of those games is not going to be changed, nor should it. Never the less, people will remember. The fact that other teams may or may not have cheated does not change that, no matter how much Pats fans might wish it.

Further, when you consider that Billy built his reputation as a coaching genius on his "brilliant" mid game adjustments and having just the right formation at just the right time, and then mysteriously lost that ability just in time for his most recent SB (when he wasn't allowed to you know, cheat anymore), is a fairly strong indication that he might not actually be such a genius, just a pretty good cheat.

633
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 8:59am

BDC, you got a couple of things right, and no one disputes it dates back a long ways. And sure, you can question the validity. Isn't that really the million dollar question: 'How much did videotaping affect the outcome of games?'

But take some time and check your chronology. Your argument about when they were "caught" and when it affected them has a 4+ month gap in which they won 18 straight games.

634
by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 9:39am

"The goal here is not censorship."

635
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 10:55am

BDC,

You're missing my point. I'm not saying what either team has done is acceptable. The Cowboys won 3 SBs as well (2 with JJ) and have admitted to using the same "cheating" tactics the Pats used during their dynasty years.

Yet I hear little or no mention and/or uproar about this.

If the nation is going to paint the Patriots as cheating scum, let's throw the old Cowboys dynasty in the same category.

I think RCH makes a good point about the penalty stemming from the blatant disregard of the league memo rather than the competitive advantage that may have been gained. But if that's the case, perhaps Goodell and Co. should re-emphasize that point.

636
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 12:38pm

> If the nation is going to paint the Patriots as cheating scum, let’s throw the old Cowboys dynasty in the same category.

The history of the Cowboy dynasty already has its cocaine, callgirls, and Barry Switzer, if that's the company you wish to keep...

But seriously, I've never looked at Jimmy Johnson (dating all the way back to his OSU and Miami days) and said, you know, that JJ's a genius, and not only that, what a sportsman! -- that's someone I'd like my son to emulate. It doesn't surprise me one bit that Johnson might have been on the cutting edge of cheating techniques. But for the league and Roger Goodell (and it's clear to me at least that Goodell is his own man on the matter of cheating, as opposed to his predecessor Paul Tagliabue), yes, at some point there effectively is a statute of limitations, given that someone like Jimmy Johnson is long gone from the coaching ranks anyway.

637
by Jake_Plummers_Beard (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 1:23pm

Seems to me the problem the League has is that BB didn't just fall off the pumpkin wagon. He's been around a while. What the NFL doesn't want is to put him on any stand or stage where he says "Hey, we did this all the time with the Giants. How do you think we beat the Bills? How do you think Simms went 22 for 26 against the Broncos? And the guys we learned it from were doing it back in the 70's." And then the League ends up with a huge problem on its hands as years of results get called into question - Was there more to how the 49'ers shut down Marino? Was there more to the 85 Bears? Hell, if there's anyone besides BB I'd pick to have used quai-legal methods it's Buddy Ryan. So in the end, the league is basically going to say taping anything you want is legal, was legal and was always legal, you just couldn't do it from the sidelines.

638
by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 03/12/2008 - 12:43am

#621 - In his defense he was young and his from the story I read it appears his roommate was consistently using his bed for playtime. If he won't stop what are his options? He can involve the administration (coach, RA, whatever) and be ostracized by his peers but that's not a great option. I have a feeling Walsh isn't too bright though, he could have just said he forgot it there after cleaning (or whatever) and not gotten in trouble. Or he could have eschewed violence and just set up a video camera, it can't be illegal to film your own bed.

639
by BDC (not verified) :: Wed, 03/12/2008 - 2:01am

635:

I suspect the difference is that that Dallas won their SBs in a rather decisive manner, while NE simply squeaked by. So people might think that while Dallas would have won no matter what they might have done, NE would not have. Pure conjecture of course, as we will never know for sure. With that said, if there is evidence of Dallas cheating, I have no problem "throwing the old Cowboys dynasty in the same category".

640
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 3:35pm

639: Would "evidence of Dallas cheating" be, say, their head coach stating, definitively and without regret, that he did the exact same thing Belichick did? Because if it would, I think you have some links to click round about 635.

641
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/20/2008 - 9:21pm

640:

"639: Would “evidence of Dallas cheating” be, say, their head coach stating, definitively and without regret, that he did the exact same thing Belichick did?"

Well, see, no. We have( well okay, HAD) physical evidence that NE cheated. There is as far as I know no such evidence that Dallas did so.

The evidence we have that Dallas cheated in the SB is the unsubstantiated claim of a disgruntled ex employee. Isn't that the exact level of evidence we have against the Pats as far as the SB goes? The unsubstantiated claim of a disgruntled ex employee? If you count them both, fine, strip them both of their titles. If such claims aren't counted fine, that still leaves us with physical evidence that the Pats cheated, and no, as far as I am aware, physical evidence that Dallas did. Further, there is not any evidence as far as I am aware, that the league went so far as to notify Johnson that his behavior was unacceptable and that it needed to stop (which he went on to ignore). That is however, apparently the case as far as NE goes.

Bottom line is, this is one of the inherent problems with cheating. No matter how good you are, no matter how qualified you are, no matter how well you would have done even if you didn't cheat, when you are caught cheating, people will always remember it, and will always wonder if you would have won "fair and square". And to be honest, the fact that Belichick is a dick to begin with means very few people outside of NE are going to give him the benefit of the doubt in any case.

642
by steve l. (not verified) :: Tue, 03/25/2008 - 4:25am

How much longer before Matt Walsh's lawyer and the NFL's lawyers finish negotiating a price for what he will suddenly no longer have as far as evidence or memory? Walsh should be grateful for Sen. Specter- he may be solely responsible for Walsh's not having a fatal "diving accident" in the near future

643
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 03/25/2008 - 1:09pm

"Further, when you consider that Billy built his reputation as a coaching genius on his “brilliant” mid game adjustments and having just the right formation at just the right time, and then mysteriously lost that ability just in time for his most recent SB (when he wasn’t allowed to you know, cheat anymore)"

And what about the 18 previous games which they won, you know, by the largest margin in the history of the league?

644
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 03/26/2008 - 11:00am

> And what about the 18 previous games which they won, you know, by the largest margin in the history of the league?

You'd call that a great run which in the end didn't measure up to 2001, 2003, or 2004. Talent trumps cheating in general, but both can have an effect on the outcome of games...

645
by Nick (not verified) :: Thu, 03/27/2008 - 8:50pm

I don't know what that has to do with my post. BDC was trying to make it sound like as soon as the taping stopped Bill Belichick turned into a fumbling idiot. Yet somehow his team managed to be historically great during that same period.

646
by steve l. (not verified) :: Sat, 03/29/2008 - 10:34pm

I think it's a little tainted to call the '07 Patriots "historically great" because of their scoring differential margins, which were historical only because that team stooped to previously unheard of levels of running-up-the-score against hapless opponents to get there.
The Giants did football fans the world over a great service by knocking that team out of any discussion about "best ever" teams- the Belichick Patriots were overrated in talent, and undeserving from a moral standpoint.

647
by BDC (not verified) :: Sun, 03/30/2008 - 9:33am

645:

I never said he turned into a "fumbling idiot". I DO think coaches are treated somewhat like QBs, in that if they win, they get too much credit, and if they lose, they get too much blame. With that said, I do find it highly amusing that as soon as he was prevented from cheating, his "historically great" team, probably the best he has ever coached, going up against probably the weakest competition he has ever faced in a SB, lost. Do I think that is why he lost? No. I think he lost because he was outplayed and outcoached. Never the less, I do find it amusing. Incidentally, what the heck is so "historically great" about a team that lost the SB? I know you Pats fans are all about the "clutch" and winning the big game, so I guess maybe someone didn't tell you, but they LOST the SB, sorry.

I also enjoyed watching him walk off the field with time remaining. Classy guy that Belicheat. Now excuse me, I am going to go read a Bill Simmons article about how the Pats are all about the "team" and how they all stick together :)

648
by Herm? (not verified) :: Sun, 03/30/2008 - 12:48pm

Using generalizations like "you Pats fans are all..." and words like "Belicheat" followed by "classless" or "arrogant" is unbecoming to the attempt of making a point, not that those elements are missing. It displays an inability to control emotions then making judgements based upon them.

Anyways, the statement in question says that the Patriots couldn't win after they weren't "allowed to cheat anymore."
The point you failed to address in your responses at 646 and 647 is that there were 16 consecutive (and yes, historical) regular season wins between the initial spygate accusation and the loss in the Superbowl. Some were against teams that you can't call hapless competition unless you think the Giants, Cowboys, Colts, Chargers, etc...were also hapless.

I also believe the run was historical. The question I submit in the argument is "In the history of the NFL, how many teams have gone 16-0 in the regular season, and how many teams have won a Superbowl? The answer is that there are 42 Superbowl winners, and only 1 team that went 16-0 in the regular season. At this point in time, I don't know if there are many Patriots fans that are kicking themselves over losing the Superbowl in a 16-0 season the way most other teams would, because of the 2001, 2003, & 2004 SB wins. I'm sure the first dissenting voice in will create a response that makes this a circular argument, so I'll just leave it at that's my opinion, you are welcome to disagree.

649
by cd6 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/31/2008 - 2:59pm

648

Of course there are more superbowl winners than there are 16-0 teams, somebody HAS to win the superbowl every year. Comparing the two stats is utterly ridiculous.

650
by Andy (not verified) :: Mon, 03/31/2008 - 4:01pm

CHEATERS!!!

651
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 03/31/2008 - 4:11pm

As I said, you can disagree. You can hate the players and the coaches and the fans, but it was a great noteworthy feat, possibly greater than one or some of those 42 Superbowl winners.
Since 1978, excluding the 2 strike years, every team has played 16 regular season games. They all HAVE to play 16 games. And only one team has won all 16 games.
I don't want to blow it way out of proportion, it's certainly not the greatest NFL achievement ever, but the context of my argument is that it was historically significant. Just as an example of where it might belong, the Giants beating that team in the SB is probably more historically significant. Also, I'll use my Patriots as an example, so as to not cross some hypersensitive fans. Which team is more significant: 2003 or 2007 Patriots? I really have no idea, but I will not close out the argument simply because one won the Superbowl and the other didn't.
(and jeez, all Steve said is that point differential is not the way to identify "historically great," followed by opinion, so I'll admit that I might be out of context and off topic by introducing this question here...But not wrong.)

652
by James Woods (not verified) :: Mon, 03/31/2008 - 4:53pm

ooh, a piece of candy

653
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 04/01/2008 - 10:53am

as soon as he was prevented from cheating

Actually, it was about six months later. If you were trying to be accurate, you might have said "As soon as he was prevented from cheating, he led his team on the longest single-season winning streak in NFL history and was two minutes away from having one of the greatest NFL seasons of all time." Damn that wretched, cheating incompetant!

654
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 04/01/2008 - 6:57pm

Hey Specter -- are you paying attention? Here's your ironclad proof the NFL is involved in a conspiracy to coverup Cameragate:

"I think it's a wonderful thing for Mr. Kraft to do," said Polian. "I personally don't think it was necessary, but that's just typical of the kind of class he has.

"I certainly appreciate everything that Mr. Kraft and his family have done for the league. They've made this league a much better league since they've been members of it and certainly from one man's point of view he doesn't need to apologize for anything.

"The New England Patriots have been a bellwether for this league as long as the Kraft family has owned them. They're tough to play against and that's all for the good, but as far as being good citizens in the National Football League they're at the top of the charts."

There's no way in hell that Bill "Break Flutie's leg!" Polian would say that out of his own free will.

655
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Wed, 04/02/2008 - 12:05am

Speaking of Specter - he recently went on the Howard Stern Show and said that the main reason the Sirius-XM merger hadn't been approved (at the time) was because there's no sense of urgency because the government has bigger and better things to do.

Like Spygate?

I swear I'm not making that up.

Oh and uh, he's also promoting a book he just wrote.

656
by Charko 825 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/02/2008 - 4:38pm

Belichick is most definitely a coaching genius. Spygate it way overblown--Pats never authorized any filming of the Rams walk-through and Walsh knows it too. Walsh filmed the walk-through on his own initiative--the guy is a real schmuck...now he's trying to say that Belichick authorized it...Walsh is a damn liar.

657
by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 04/03/2008 - 10:26am

Charko,

The certainty of your statements leads me to believe that you must have inside information. Please share your sources so we can all put this behind us.

658
by Reality-check (not verified) :: Thu, 04/03/2008 - 9:38pm

Please. They were caught cheating in the first game of the so called undefeated season. They should have been 15-1, because being caught cheating should equal losing in any fair competition.

659
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 12:53pm

"With that said, I do find it highly amusing that as soon as he was prevented from cheating, his “historically great” team, probably the best he has ever coached, going up against probably the weakest competition he has ever faced in a SB, lost."

No, they didn't. The video taping stopped after Week 1. They won the next 17 games. You do understand what "as soon as" means, yes?

I'm not even trying to make a larger point about how their season was still a great accomplishment, or whatever, I'm just telling you what you're saying, in fact, is wrong, and it reflects poorly on your credibility. I understand you find it "amusing", you should, but don't play pretend and then continue to do so after someone points out your mistake.

660
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 4:16pm

“With that said, I do find it highly amusing that as soon as he was prevented from cheating, his “historically great” team, probably the best he has ever coached, going up against probably the weakest competition he has ever faced in a SB, lost.”

I would also take issue with the contentions that (1) this was the best team he had ever coached, and (2) that the Giants were the weakest competition he had faced in a SB.

For (1), I would argue that the 2004 Patriots were a better TEAM than the 2007 Patriots. In 2004, both their offense and their defense was near the top of the league, and their special teams were pretty good, too. In 2007, their offense was other-worldly, but their defense was only pretty good, not great. Combining the DVOA says that they were overall the best team, but I think there's a limit to the point that you can simply just add the offensive and defensive DVOA's together--I personnaly feel that a team with, hypothetically, a +100% O-DVOA and a -10% D-DVOA is probably not as good (i.e. likely to win any given game) as a team with a +40% O-DVOA and a -40% D-DVOA.

Second, I don't think the Giants were the weakest team that the Pats ever faced in the SB. That honor goes to the 2003 Carolina Panthers.

661
by scott (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 12:19pm

"South Park" took on Belichick last night as part of a larger narrative on cheating.

No, I'm not making this up.

662
by BDC (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 6:33pm

Wow, Pats fans are so touchy. Come on, this thread is specifically titled IRRATIONAL. Hey, my team had one win last year. Let me enjoy what little I can enjoy....

663
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 9:39am

Why does everyone assume that Belichik stopped cheating after the Jets game? He probably stopped filming, but he had film to use for game planning/adjusting. Plus I'm sure he had other methods.
The guy has an obsessive-compulsive disorder about winning football games. Getting caught once is not a significant deterrent. And since he thinks he's really smart (rather than afflicted by an antisocial personality disorder), he almost certianly has regained his confidence in not getting caught.
The only way to really stop him from cheating is to ban him from the game. He's an addict.

664
by BDC (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 12:09pm

Re 660:

Well, I did say "perhaps", not that it was a sure thing. In any case though, Hold up a second. A few months ago we were arguing was this Pats team the greatest team of all time (with the main competitor being the 85 Bears); now they weren't even the greats Pats team of all time? Really? What changed? (other then them not cheating anymore, that is).

Re 659:

"You do understand what “as soon as” means, yes?"

I should have been more specific. I was referring to SBs, and should have specifically stated that. I assumed that as Pats fans have spent the past 8 years or so telling us how the SB is the only game that counts, they would understand this. Funny how that thinking changes when they lose one huh? All of a sudden, those regular season numbers actually DO count?

665
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 2:40pm

So much silliness assuming that every individual among the entire Patriots fanbase maintains the exact opinion about everything. It's a convenient assumption, and I'm sure it makes it that much easier to hate all things New England/Boston sports.

But with the fun going on, I was curious as to where Tom's PhD. is from, and if someone can explain to me if there is a similarity between addictive / obsessive /compulsive disorders and feeling the urge to talk out of one's ass.
I understand some people believe Belichick is a hamster jockey pirate bear shark zombie ninja plotting to give the Pope AIDS this week...but the psychological diagnosis calling him an addict is a new one here. Then again, I am curious if his sad addiction and sociopathic tendencies are due to his feelings of abandonment during his developmental years, crossed with multiple forms of abuse growing up the Naval Academy. When he cuts himself, does he use his pirate hook? It's all a shame, really, because had he not lost his arm, he could be a pornstar or stripper. But I guess NFL Head Coach with multiple SB rings will just have to do. :(

666
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 5:55pm

No assumptions about anything Herm. #660 and before all suggest spygate prevented him from cheating in '08, when the only thing we really know is that he hasn't been caught cheating since spygate.
I'm not an anti-Belichik guy, so focus on the words, not the writer: He's a liar. About player injuries, about his interpretation of rules, about wether he knew time was left on the clock in SB42, about much more than others in similar positions. Why? No need for any of it, and he does so voluntarily. If its because he doesn't care, hates his peers, has a superiorty complex , or disassiociates his words from his actions, these are signs of a personality disorder. (You are right, I should have said "like an addict") Its simple stuff, really. Could be minor, of course, but something more significant and its easy to see how spygate won't change a thing. He'll still cheat.

667
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 10:40pm

I find it impossible to take your post seriously, and keep in mind your response is to my post referencing a pirate bear shark zombie ninja plotting to give the Pope AIDS (but not until later this week). And your response is #666!
I'll leave the responsibility of content to someone whose Dr. Phil, Jr.'s Pop Psychology text book is a little more up to date, or at least I'll do it when I'm a bit less tired (and believe me, there are some gems compacted in there).
In the meantime, please consider my invitation to you and all of your money to my next card game.

668
by BDC (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:19am

665:

"So much silliness assuming that every individual among the entire Patriots fanbase maintains the exact opinion about everything."

I was not at all lumping all Pats fans together. I was simply commenting on the very discussions we had right here on this very discussion board.

Did we not have [several] discussions just a short while ago about whether or not this Pats team is the best team ever? We did didn't we? We had a thread on here in fact in which it was described as the greatest upset in history. Not just in football, but in all of sports. It just seems silly to me to now say that no this wasn't the best team ever, it wasn't even the best Pats team ever. And no that wasn't their worst SB opponent ever.

Have we not had a number of threads on here where we have heard (in the past at least; this mysteriously went away this year, I can't imagine why) about how regular season stuff doesn't matter, it is what is done in the "big game" that counts? Didn't we have so many threads about that in fact, that a whole separate thread needed to be created to discuss them?

In fact, isn't that why we have a separate thread for this now?

669
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 12:03pm

Tom, the only thing we really know is that you haven't been caught punching a child since spygate.

I’m not an anti-Tom guy, so focus on the words, not the writer: You're a potential baby-puncher. You could be punching babies right now, and I don't have any evidence that you're not. Why? No need for any of it, and you do so voluntarily. If it's because you don’t care, hate babies, have a superiorty complex , or disassiociate punching babies and toddlers from your perception of yourself, these are signs of a personality disorder. (You are right, I should have said “potentially” like a personality disorder, after all, you might do other things too, puppy-kicker). It's simple stuff, really. Could be minor, of course, but something more significant and it's easy to see how calling you out for punching children won’t change a thing. You'll still be a toddler-smacker. After all, there's no proof out there you aren't.

670
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 04/23/2008 - 1:44pm

The NFL and Walsh have finally struck a deal. Apparently Walsh and Goodell will have their little chat sometime between 8 May and 13 May, after which there will be press conferences.

671
by chiefsjoe (not verified) :: Thu, 04/24/2008 - 4:46am

Is there a bigger joke of a franchise in all of sports than the Pats??? Nope, and I'm loving every minute of it. Their whole legacy turns into a joke! :)

672
by Tom (not verified) :: Thu, 04/24/2008 - 1:15pm

The agreement seems to indemnify Walsh against a he-said, she-said countersuit. It suggests that thats what the hearings will come down to. Goodall won't be able to act, and the Belichik-haters will be able to prolong the controversy in the court of public opinion. Time for Patsfans to either restore Belichiks reputation, or trash Walsh. There appears to be too much defensiveness to even admit BB has a credibility problem. I think Walsh knows what he is in for. It will be a wash.

673
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:07pm

I suspect the following scenario will happen on 13 May:
(a) Walsh will have no tape of any walkthrough.
(b) However, Walsh will claim he made such a tape, even though he has no evidence to back it up.
(c) Goodell will do nothing.
(d) The irrational haters will keep irrationally hating.

674
by Brian S (not verified) :: Thu, 04/24/2008 - 9:23pm

I bet Walsh has a video tape of O' Billy punching a baby. I wonder if Goodell will do anything about that?

675
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 04/29/2008 - 3:54am

Hey, what's wrong with punching babies? Sure, they're cute and can't defend themselves, but they get older and can fight back more each day, making it sort of a sporting proposition if you're outnumbered.

Not that I do it. Just a hypothetical.

And contributing my 2 cents to irrationality. Not that anybody here needs it, as you well know. Well, I find you all boring, so I'm off to the Peytom Branning Thread where some really relevant insanity is surely frothing.

676
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 04/29/2008 - 3:57am

Further to my comment at 675, I just remembered a Simpsons episode in which Flanders was uncomfortable with the blasphemous nature of their biker gang name, Hells Angels, so Mo suggested a better one: Christ Punchers.

Apropos of nothing, but amusing nonetheless.

677
by jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/29/2008 - 1:52pm

to 673: what a suprise oh course you want nothing to come out, you just wanty everyone to leave your cheating patriots alone. i just hope one day in life someone repeatedly and habitually cheats you out of your life goals. and if you then catch them later, they'll just deny deny deny i the face of evidence. what goes around comes around. face it the patriots have cheated for every accomplishment they have had since belicheck got to new england. you must be a barry bonds and roger clemens fan too, for if you are not you are the height of hypocrisy

678
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 10:41pm

FYI, New York Times (link in my name, registration/bugmenot required) reports that Walsh sent 8 tapes to the NFL that included footage of signals during games between 2000 and 2002, but no footage of the SB36 Rams practice walk-through.

Walsh's attorney is quoted as saying: “Mr. Walsh has never claimed to have a tape of the walk-through,” Levy said in a telephone interview. “Mr. Walsh has never been the source of any of the media speculation about such a tape. Mr. Walsh was not the source for the Feb. 2 Boston Herald article.”

679
by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 11:05pm

And so it ends?

680
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 11:52pm

Bombshell, no? I bet the NFL just sweeps it under the carpet... but I'd think this news might deserve a Part II Irrational Thread...

Wonder if we are still "irrational haters"... I hope they throw BB out of the league and strip them of even more draft picks...

Or maybe the NFL will say, "we already knew about these tapes"... I hope the Pats fessed up to all of their doings...

So let's see... tapes going back to 2002, and you got caught in 2007 and 2006... I think I see a pattern...

681
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:16am

Given that Belichick told Goodell back in October that Belichick has been taping signals going back to when he was hired as the Pats' coach in 2000, Walsh has nothing the NFL doesn't already know about.

682
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:40am

Yeah, the Matt Walsh items, according to the league, are already known offenses. Wow. Earth-shattering. About the equivalent of me showing my wife hard evidence that our kids didn't make their beds in June 2005. Whew, let the punishment begin!

I never spent much mental capital on Spygate aside from wondering about how the NFL handled things (destroying evidence appeared odd), so I approach this with a blank slate... but it seems like there was a whole lot of hub-bub over... nothing? And Walsh spent many expensive hours with legal counsel to protect him from counter-suits because he had... videos the league already knew about six months ago? Monstrously stupid? Pathetic attention-seeker? Pawn? Something's not quite right here.

In my mind, it would make more sense if he had just slunk away without revealing anything, or if he had a bombshell. But showing up with old news and claiming it is somehow "important" is just really freakin' stupid.

I'd be glad to be able to officially put this behind us and get on with the game we all love. And that's coming from a Colts fan.

683
by fontaine (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 7:30am

Re: #681

You're right, the report being made by Walsh is nothing new and the NFL and fans worldwide already know what Walsh has amitted now:
That Bill Belicheat and the Patriots organisation has been involved in cheating to gain an unfair advantage since 2000.

With 6 years worth of illegal video taping knowledge, experience and raw footage that makes for a helluva big advantage.

The Pats may not have won the SuperBowl but the Patri*ts sure are the cheating Champs so there's always that to fall back on.

684
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 7:51am

Re: #682

After this resolution, I'm now wondering if (despite what his lawyer claims) Walsh came out with the walkthrough "story" because he was worried about being sued by the Patriots for stealing tapes (which he now admits to have done) and for allegedly audiotaping his superiors. Note the one thing that did happen in all of this -- Walsh managed to get himself a deal which prevented him from being held accountable for those acts. So maybe that's what Walshgate was all about.

685
by cd6! (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 8:59am

Walsh came out with the walkthrough “story” because he was worried about being sued by the Patriots for stealing tapes (which he now admits to have done) and for allegedly audiotaping his superiors.

Yeah, there's a line of argument the Pats should take. Go on the offensive against Walsh because he... stole their tapes.

And its not illegal to audiotape your superiors. The Pats organization shouldn't have anything to get upset about on that one, unless of course, his superiors are saying shady things.

I hear there's tape of a Steelers AFC Championship game in the mix. Isn't that wonderful. Ugh.

686
by Tom (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 9:32am

The evidence does not reveal new facts, but it does change the context: Walsh held on to the tapes because he knew they were evidence of cheating. This behavior is not consistent with Bellichiks statement that he did not consider taping against the rules. So it is quite likely that someone is not telling the truth. Could be Walsh, but I doubt it.
One of the tapes was made after Walsh left, so there should be an additional witness to testify on the intent of BB though all of this.

687
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 9:37am

Re: #685

That (the 2001 AFC championship game) isn't news, either. That came out months ago, too, and Cowher and Rooney already commentedon it.

688
by Anechoic (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:18am

And its not illegal to audiotape your superiors.

Read Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272 Section 99 (aka, the "Wiretap Statute"). Recording the oral or wire communications without the knowledge of all involved in the communication is illegal.

Presuming those recordings were made in Massachusetts, Walsh brooke the law.

689
by Vern (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:38pm

Re: 686

The tapes Walsh had (well 7 of 8) were standard scouting tapes. They had the sideline footage inter-spliced with game film, which was the standard practice (compare the play to the call).

He had the tapes because they were work he did. Only when the story broke, and he mistakenly assumed BB had not admitted to this, did he think he had something.

It doesn't change the context at all. BB's limited comments on the topic were interpreted too often as denial or downplay, when it fact it was just standard BB downplay as he would on ANY news. He told the comish all along that this was standard practice for scouting.

690
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:00pm

> Only when the story broke, and he mistakenly assumed BB had not admitted to this, did he think he had something.

Funny how the commissioner didn't bother to tell us this at the time, rather only what little he thought we needed to know (just that tapes from the Jets game and parts of the 2006 season had been turned over and destroyed). So in that sense Walsh/Specter/Easterbrook/et al served some purpose in bringing out the truth, because in full-blown CYA mode Goodell was going to bury that truth along with the initial videotapes.

I know some fans didn't want to hear it and would laughingly dismiss all the conspiracy theories, but this is simply what happens when an organization or business refuses to come clean in the first place. As tedious as the story may have eventually become, the media were only doing their jobs in following up here. This was vindicated by Walsh coming forward with *something* (finally), even if that something only corroborated what Goodell was finally forced to admit under pressure (from Specter especially). Otherwise we were only going to be left with the impression that the Patriots may have employed some limited videotaping in recent seasons, when in fact the practice went deeper than that.

691
by Brian G. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:06pm

I'm curious to see how the Boston Herald responds to the fact that Walsh claims he was not the source of the 2002 SB walkthrough story. I see a number of possibilities:
1. Walsh is lying and The Herald will out him as the source.
2. The Herald has another source they still feel is legit and they continue to stand by the story. The source never comes forward and the story eventually dies.
3. The Herald has another source they no longer feel is legit, out the source, and issue a retraction/apology.
4. The Herald has another source who decides to come forward and we go through this all over again.

Place your bets now!

692
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:16pm

> This behavior is not consistent with Bellichiks statement that he did not consider taping against the rules.

Of course all parties involved knew the practice was against the rules, especially after multiple warnings. Belichick's story here has been laughable tooth-fairy fantasy all along. Characterizing it as "standard BB downplay" is some impressive spin, though. But because you're never going to get anything more than a half-hearted apology (to the organization, to Patriots fans, to the league office, but not to beaten opponents) from Belichick, the spanking he initially received from the league is good enough for me.

693
by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 3:10pm

Sadly, nothing new came of Spygate, there is no new information. Everything that came out is consistent with everything the Patriots have already told the league. (There were no claims that Walsh was the sole videographer.) How can anyone still believe Walsh has a shred of credibility remaining?
Belichick, your tormentor / miserable POS / nemesis will still be the coach. As of now, you're still stuck with the probability that your team is going to lose if they play the Patriots in the 2008-2009 season.
Take comfort that the videos recorded in the AFC Championship game, among others, were never actually used during the game in which they were taped, and won't be used again, just as they weren't in the 2007-2008 season. The harshest penalty in history was already handed down.
I won't be expecting retractions or explanations from Fish, Tomase, Easterbrook, or even Specter, despite the apologies issued by the Kraft Family and Belichick.

I would suppose if there is a further need to dig for issues of negative character or integrity in the NFL, our attentions are better placed on people involved in shootings or other forms of intentional harm.

694
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 5:07pm

I’m curious to see how the Boston Herald responds to the fact that Walsh claims he was not the source of the 2002 SB walkthrough story.

There's another possiblity:

(5) The Herald, being a rag with hardly a shred of journalistic integrity, has a source that they may or may not have considered credible, although it is also possible they just made it all up because the Pats were in the SB and they wanted to sell copies, but won't every name it, and won't every issue a retraction, any more than the National Enquire issues retractions about how the "bat boy" or the UFO turned out to be fake, but instead will probably just pretend that the whole story never happened.

Incensed over their contribution to "spygate" and possibly for creating a distraction that helped cost them the SB, Belichick and the Patriots organization will not allow any further access to Herald reporters, which will give the Herald an agenda (like Borges' old agenda) to slander the Pats whenever possible, and, given their sloppy journalistic standards, the Herald will probably make up more untrue crap about the Patriots at some time in the future.

695
by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:04am

"How can anyone still believe Walsh has a shred of credibility remaining?"

Hey, I don't think Walsh is any sort of a good guy, but how does his credibility go DOWN after coming up with 8 tapes? You're blaming him for the Herald story. That's the Herald's fault, not Walsh's. Walsh said he had evidence of taping, he produced that evidence, and we move on. He never said he had walk through tapes -- that was an assumption based on the Herald story.

Now, if the Herald claims he was the course, THEN his credibility plummets. But, right now, he's given what he said he had, evidence of taping.

696
by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:09am

"people involved in shootings or other forms of intentional harm"

What, no mention of HGH in that list?

Come on, if you're going to take shots at the Colts, just come out and say it, don't be coy. Here, I'll even give you an example:

We should be more concerned with teams like the Colts who have one "star" in Harrison suspected of shooting multiple times at someone, and who just signed a guy (Rhodes) who was suspended last year for a substance abuse problem.

See, it's not so hard to say exactly what you mean, especially on this thread.

697
by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:11am

And, no, I am not very happy with the off-season antics of my favorite team, the Colts. They could do better. But, I'm also not going to declare NE saints because Walsh didn't find anything more than what we know.

698
by fontaine (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 4:36am

From reading the reports it's emerged that something new has been revealed.

The Miami tape contained recordings of OFFENSIVE signals/plays.

Previously the extent of the Patriots cheating was confined to recording the defensive signals and plays but one of Walsh's tapes shows the recordings of Miami's offense signals.

Why am I not surprised?

699
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 10:01am

I don't know, waiting over 3 months to find out an attention whore had no substance to offer...if it doesn't reduce his credibility, it's only because he had none in the first place.
The Herald and sadly Mike Fish, (who I respect as a journalist but took a big swing and a miss on this one) are the mushrooms growing on that POS. What a trip.
I don't care to take shots at the Colts as much as I find it fascinating that there are 700 posts in a thread about handsignals. My guess is that people are more involved because they feel handsignals affected their team more than gunshots in the offseason do, coupled with resentment at New England's success vs. Harrison's 2007 decline.
The public perspective just doesn't seem to fit the scale of the offenses.

I'm sure Mr. Arthur Blank was most thankful for this. Was he part of a conspiracy with the Kraft Family to deflect attention from dog murder?!!! Was the negotiated repayment the removal of Thomas Dmitroff from New England to Atlanta? I think Matt Ryan is the key to unlock this mystery...

700
by GlennW (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 10:55am

> Hey, I don’t think Walsh is any sort of a good guy, but how does his credibility go DOWN after coming up with 8 tapes?

Welcome to Patriot World. Let's face it, the Patriots still want no part of this guy. If Walsh now starts talking and gives up the gory unfiltered details on this "videotaping program" and how and where it was used to positive effect, of course he will continue to be roundly shouted down and smeared wherever possible. But the fact remains that Walsh has now proved that he did formerly reside deep inside the belly of the beast, and that the Patriots willingly employed this supposed scumbag in their operation for a period of years (even though Bill Belichick claims he doesn't know who Walsh is, wink, wink).

701
by Andy (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 11:58am

Forgive me if this issue has been addressed in the previous 700 posts, but I have a question.

I was under the impression that videotaping a team's signals would not have give Bellicheck an edge in THAT PARTICULAR GAME. Rather, if the opposition is lazy, the Pats can figure out the hand signals for the NEXT time the two teams meet.

If that assumption is correct, why would they tape the Pittsburgh AFC Championship Game?

702
by Lance (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 12:25pm

Re #701: Andy, the idea would be that NE would, over time, have an inventory of hand signals for each team that can be used in the future. If the Steelers don't change their signals for the following season, then presumably the NE coaches can identify defensive (and now, it seems some OFFENSIVE) play-calling in real time. How much of an advantage is this? I don't know. NE would have to have a spy watch an opposing coach, quickly recognize the signal, and relay that to a coach, who would then try to get this information to the NE players. All in a few seconds. That doesn't sound very likely. But then again, if there weren't some advantage to it, why go to the trouble?

703
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 12:30pm

Andy,

Many in the Pats-opposition camp still insist that the Patriots somehow managed to employ the taped signals in a manner that imparted an advantage in the game in which they were taped. I personally doubt that, on logistical arguments alone (I just don't think it's possible splice the tape together with scouting tape, analyze the signals, decode them, and relay that information to the players taking the field, in significantly less than a three hour span), and Belichick's statements deny this (Belichick said that they wouldn't get around to even looking at the signal tapes until the Thursday following the game, and sometimes even longer than that). Of course, those in the Pats-opposition camp won't be convinced by my judgement (I'm a Pats fan) or by Belichick's word. Basically, if you're firmly convinced of the Patriots' evil, you have visions of massive, well-trained armies of analysts in secret, underground chambers like in a James Bond movie nefariously analyzing signals in realtime.

To answer your question of why tape the Pittsburg AFC CG, I think the answer is twofold, and it's what I've been arguing since this story first broke.

First, there is an off chance that an opposing team may be lazy enough not to change their signals, in which case having broken them down gives you an edge. But more likely, it's part of an effort to profile the playcalling tendencies of coaches around the league. Statistics such as "Coach Y calls an overload blitz 34% of the time when in 3rd-and-7+ against a shotgun formation" would be amazingly useful in future gameplans against that coach, or for evaluating that coach as a potential future hire. Heck, here at FO folks are coming up with statistics like that all the time, and people have wondered why teams don't do that. Well, the almost certainly do. But sometimes it's difficult to know exactly what play was called--because the players don't always do what they were supposed to, or end up out of position, or the offense changes the play at the line and the defense adjusts without getting additional calls from the coach. So if you can keep a record of what opposing signals were called, as opposed to just what was executed, it gives you a more complete picture of what the opposing coaching strategies are. Belichick is a perfectionist, and Ernie Adams believes in the power of statistical analysis, so I can easily see why they would want as much records, especially video records, of the play-calling tendency of every defensive coach in the league.

The second possible reason is for self-scouting. Say you want to evaluate how well your offensive players are able to read an opposing defense, and diagnose what play the defense was actually going to run based on the pre-snap read. It certainly would be useful in the evaluation of your own players and their football intelligence if you knew what play the defensive coordinator had called in. I.e. "he signaled a disguised blitz 12 times when O'Callaghan was in there, and 11 times when Kaczur was in there, but O'Callaghan only picked up on it twice and adjusted his response, while Kaczur picked up on it and adjusted eight times". Maybe after Kaczur adjusted a bunch of those times, the defense backed off the blitz, so there'd be no way of knowing if his adjustment stopped the blitz, or what (it's a chicken or the egg situation) without knowing what the original defensive call had been.

704
by GlennW (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:29pm

> First, there is an off chance that an opposing team may be lazy enough not to change their signals, in which case having broken them down gives you an edge. But more likely, it’s part of an effort to profile the playcalling tendencies of coaches around the league.

"More likely?" MJK, could you possibly downplay the purpose of stealing opponents' signals any more? Of course the first, second and third motives for stealing signs is to decipher them and use that information later (in the next game, I agree with that much). All the other kinds of game analysis you describe don't require the coaching signals, and given the inherent error involved in interpreting them (as opposed to simply looking at the game film) would hardly be worth it.

Hell, at least Jimmy Johnson was honest about the practice...

705
by Andy (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:50pm

#702, thanks for the response. A big library with hand signals seems reasonable.

#703, not to be critical, but your two theories don't hold much water with me. That seems like a LOT of work in order to ensure that YOUR players are on the ball. In fact, I think you're grasping at straws.

But I'm a Miami Dolphin fan, so I'm not very objective here. I think they were stealing signals to gain a competitive advantage when they played a certain team for the second time.

706
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:58pm

I missed the part where the Patriots were dishonest about their role in taping hand signals.

They issued an explanation of their interpretation of the rules, they explained how they videotaped and how they used the videotapes.

It was well known what they were doing, wasn't it the tolerance that had changed - an accepted (albeit reluctantly?) past behavior was changed.

Feel free to respond, but starting off with the indignant "Please" and following up with a Patriots / Goodell conspiracy theory containing the words arrogant or cheatriots or Belicheat or insinuations thereof have never held water.

Your time to post would be better served trying to potray how Specter allows Comcast to commonly put illegal surcharges on customer invoices, among other misleading sales and marketing practices.

707
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:34pm

Andy,

My post in #703 (the first half, after I finish venting about irritional folks...sorry about that! :-) which you claim doesn't hold water, is essentially the same as post #702, which you say seems reasonable.

#702 said that the point wasa to compile a library of handsignals for every defensive coach in the league. I'm pretty sure that's right.

But why?

Option 1: those handsignals are used in the game in which they occur. I think most of us grant that, while possible, it is unlikely for logistical reasons.

Option 2: (the simplest option): in case you play that coach again, you want to directly read his hand signals. This would be the most obvious explanation, except that coaches have gone on record saying that they change their defensive handsignals periodically exactly so that this doesn't happen. Plus, many of the team that NE was taping were NFC teams that they wouldn't play again for four years. Coaches likely would have changed then, and hand signals almost certainly would have. So I find it unlikely that this was the direct reason for it.

That leaves my main point: by compiling a library of hand signals used in a game, and then correlating those signals to the situation, and to what actually happened, allows you to figure out trends of what a given coach likes to do.

The self-scouting thing is kind of an afterthought, that you folks are putting way too much of an emphasis on, but it is a possible other use for the taped data.

One final note: People keep saying "if it wasn't important or valuable, why were they doing it?" It is important to note that the Patriots, the League, and even other coaches have all come out and said that it ISN'T that important or valuable to have taped it. Belichick said that it took them days or even weeks to get to the taped hand signals, and that it was one of their lowest priority things to work on. Goddell is on record saying the punishment was for flaunting the rules and disobeying a league memo, but that the actual competitive advantage incurred by the tapes was small. Other coaches, including folks in the Steeler's organization, have said that the taping doesn't bother them and that they don't think it's that big a deal.

Now, you could argue that all these people have incentive to downplay the significance for various reasons, but it should be noted that there is not one credible source that actually claims that it had much of a competitive effect. All the talk that it is a big deal comes from media talking heads engaging in pure speculation, and folks on message boards throwing out their own theories.

708
by GlennW (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:52pm

> I missed the part where the Patriots were dishonest about their role in taping hand signals.

Let's start with Belichick, in obvious discrepancy with the written rule and the subsequent warnings:

"My interpretation was that you can't utilize anything to assist you during that game."

I consider the above statement to be a blatant lie. Even South Park figured that out...

709
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:53pm

I know this is the main house of irrationality until the next Manning/Brady mixed martial arts battle, but Herm? you'll have to take the discussion of Harrison's scrape with the law to the other thread to get some perspective.

Why are there fewer posts there? (1) it happened in the offseason and has received no media coverage IN season when most NFL fans are paying attention--poll 100 typical NFL fans and I bet fully 60 have not heard of it yet. (2) No responsible media outlet has given it more than one, maybe two articles worth of space, primarily because... (3) There is no story (yet). The Philly PD, the people specifically charged with maintaining law and order, have not released a report, charged anyone, arrested anyone, or given any indication that anything will happen in a law enforcement/legal sense.

Somehow, it is actually possible that nothing "illegal" happened (self defense after being shot at. Yes, 6 badly aimed shots seems high, but if a convicted murderer shoots at me, I'm not gonna worry about counting my rounds). The data is contracdictory and incredibly sketchy, but among the facts are Harrison is licensed to carry a concealed weapon and that gun was registered to him. There were shell casings that match his gun as well as another casing at the scene. An ex-convict (murder? manslaughter?) was shot in the hand after being thrown out of a bar. He has refused to cooperate fully and his story changed already. Marvin SEEMS to have cooperated, but some of the statements that came out sound contradictory (my gun is at home. oops, it's in a bucket). Without a reliable investigation or a police report, we don't know what statements are true, contradictory, fabricated, speculation, etc.

There is nothing to discuss, really, until more is known. And it may never be known if the case is deemed too small potatoes to worry about (when the cops had an actual cop killing to deal with just days afterwards, you can see how this gets back-burnered).

For those reasons, and many others (some involving bias in favor of quiet, non-drug-taking superstars), there has not been a lot of discussion.

The 700+ posts here are just the tail of the tsunami, since the "spygate" (God, we need a better term) hub-bub has been in the news for 5 months, talked about on TV and online and in print ad nauseum.

Complaining about disproportionate outrage/discussion of two very different events is a little like complaining that Everest's peak is so much higher than Mt Washington's. Well, don't blame the peak--one is just sitting on a lot more stuff, the other has less holding it up.

Or were you just trying to snarkily divert attention from the subject of this thread and sling mud the Colts' way?

My apologies to all if that was too rational.

710
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 4:05pm

Irrational bias against Mt. Washington aside, your explanation of why people care more about taping hand signals than violence answers what I was looking for and agree with, mainly in the 1st point about it being the offseason.
(I mentioned at 699 that I could care less about dragging Indy through the mud)
The latter parts of your explanation to some degree mirror our spygate experience; speculation, lack of facts, and media hype were all present. It lead me to question why the media won't hype or speculate self defense vs. attempted murder after they've done everything they could to publish unconfirmed stories from non/uncredible sources on the videotaping issue.

The disparity in scale has been something else, where I would have considered videotaping peanuts when compared to deliberate gunfire at another human being. But when compared to the coverage, would you not say it is an understatement to say they have been on the opposite end of that scale?

If Specter is so outraged that the NFL would have people videotaping handsignals, why is he not concerned about an alleged act of violence that was committed by an NFL player and occurred in the very state he is so nobly defending against the evils of electronic recording devices?

Anyways, the point I have exhausted was not inteded specifically to be pointed at the Colts or Marvin Harrison, but more to question perspective of the media, government, and internet community. Wish me luck.

711
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 4:11pm

708 OMG HaHa Matt Parker and Trey Stone said it so it must be true I'll go break in my copy of Team America World Police and play it until it skips. AND the cure for AIDS is to inject yourself with loads of shredded money! It's all true! Free HAT!

712
by GlennW (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 5:20pm

That's why I wrote that "even" South Park figured this one out-- it's called a backhanded compliment (in a sea of denial), son. Herm, the fact that you didn't even comment on Belichick's ridiculously incredible quote in the face of all evidence speaks for itself (hey, you asked for dishonesty, I just answered).

The Marvin Harrison story is a red herring. That matter could end up as seriously as Harrison landing in prison, but it's still an individual off-field matter, and nothing fundamentally intrinsic to the sport and the way it's played on the field. Similarly, the Pete Rose gambling and NBA referee game-fixing scandals were critical in their respective sports (as opposed to all of society), even though neither party went Rae Carruth on anyone or anything. No, Belichick's offenses don't remotely compare to those, but you get the general point about the importance of a sport's credibility as opposed to a single individual's private life.

713
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 10:08pm

The irony: Giant fans continue to express their gratitude to the Jets for uncovering the cheating when they did, or else Week 17 NE-NYG would have been taped. But instead, SB42 was played fairly and the better team won.
Who cares about Belichik? He's a liar who gets what he deserves.

714
by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 11:05pm

Well, one of the other obvious reasons this gets more air time then Harrision (besides Harrison being an individual action that doesn't affect the game itself) is that Bellichick was widely anointed as a genius. Heck, the media went so far as to brand his coaching offspring as geniuses (before they mostly all tanked).

So, the spygate stuff isn't just a team cheating, it's the anointed genius of our generation cheating. THAT makes it worthy of discussion.

(For comparison sake, imagine if someone like Cower had been caught doing this. No one ever accused him of being a genius (a la BB) or overly moral (a la Dungy), and so it's wouldn't be as big of a deal.

Now, BB never called himself a genius, so it's not his fault. But, the bruhaha isn't under his control.

(PS: MJK, you're amazing me with your rational thought in these last 20 posts. I honestly mean that -- your comments have been biased as would those of any fan, but also very rational and not hyperbolic. Well done!)

715
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sat, 05/10/2008 - 12:28am

This wasn't a big deal when the dynasty Cowboys of the 90's did it. I'm not saying what they did was ok, but it's been entirely blown out of proportion. The story broke almost a pregnancy ago, and we're still talking about it. Funny we didn't hear a peep after the coach of the last dynasty admitted to doing the same exact thing. Check the link in my name. The power of the media is second to none. Kudos to them.

716
by Herm? (not verified) :: Sat, 05/10/2008 - 12:55am

OK clone, Jr., that's enough posting for one night. We're sorry you were by yourself and drunk by 9:08, but it's time for you to go to bed. Just make sure you hit the dictionary and look up the word irony before you go.

And GlennW, I saw little point in responding directly to you somewhat seriously after reading your posts the past couple of days. You're as antiPatriot as I am pro-Patriot, we're never going to agree...But because my post at 711 was more demeaning than I care to be toward regular contributors here, I'll throw this at you: I think you're wrong. You're entitled to your opinion, but I've heard no evidence to contradict the statements that Belichick made to Goodell. I've only read the actual quotes from Goodell and Belichick, and then I've read 3 months worth of published lies from ESPN and the Boston Herald that were referenced in countless other publications and broadcasts.
I don't believe the conspiracy theories, and I believe that as intelligent and meticulous as Belichick is in his preparation for coaching a football team, I'm sure there are other facets in his life that are quite the opposite... possibly to the point of being idiotic. In the same spirit of his poor fashion...does he open his mail...who pays his bills...does he remember to eat...? A lot like most of the PhD's I know, except only instead of being a doctor, he is a football coach who was fined $500k.

And if you truly believe that the credibility of the NFL is worse off because of videotaped handsignals and does not have a much greater credibility issue regarding it's historically accepting stance toward violence and illegal substances, I think you're wrong again.

Lastly, If you think you stuck it to South Park with a backhanded compliment, have a look at Purds's post to MJK.

717
by Purds (not verified) :: Sat, 05/10/2008 - 1:25am

I wasn't intending to be backhanded. Sorry if it came out that way. I think MJK has presented a biased view (just as I have as a Colts fan, and others have as fans of their own teams, and I am all cool with biased views), but even with that bias still present, he's been a very rational debater. He's not lost his cool, nor his ability to present a sound argument.

I meant it as a genuine complement.

718
by MJK (not verified) :: Sat, 05/10/2008 - 1:51am

Why thank you Purds! I appreciate the compliment.
I've gotten accused of bringing too much rationality into the other irrational thread on this site, as well. You and Bobman always come across as pretty rational as well, which is why I like reading your posts, in spite of the fact you're both Colts fans!

I do try my best to be level headed and rational, even when I'm being blatantly biased. :-) Which, even I'll admit, is most of the time when the Patriots are concerned. There's nothing wrong with a little bias in a discussion, as long as there are vocal people with bias on different sides of an issue.

In spite of its title, this thread has actually brought up some interesting and rational points on both sides of the issue that are worth considering. And provided quite a bit of amusement on slow days... :-)

719
by Lance (not verified) :: Sat, 05/10/2008 - 9:36pm

#715: read more closely what JJ says and you'll see why this has gotten more press than when Dallas (and, it seems, most other teams) were doing it 15 years ago.

#707, I don't see how your system works. You are suggesting that hand signals help in discerning down-and-distance trends because sometimes the actual call doesn't happen due to pre-snap adjustments. In your argument, the hand signal tells you the "real" call regardless of what happens after the snap. Except, the only way to discern what the "real" call is is to look at what happens after the snap. If you see a "thumbs up" sign 3 times in a game and the film shows 2 or 3 things (e.g. player X does/doesn't blitz) then how do you know which of those reflects the "real" call and which is the adjustment?

720
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:58am

Herm, I may indeed be "anti-Patriot", but you can go back through this thread and find several other posters opining that Belichick's explanation for not understanding the videotaping rule is simply not credible (including the esteemed and objective Will Allen, who has derided Arlen Specter and the longevity of this affair, among other things). Sure, it's old news-- I just don't believe in historical revisionism. It's almost as if as time passes, Belichick was simply doing his job, and the big bad Boston Herald and the rest of the media are responsible for some false perception of cheating and lying (Herm: "I’ve heard no evidence to contradict the statements that Belichick made to Goodell... then I’ve read 3 months worth of published lies from ESPN and the Boston Herald that were referenced in countless other publications and broadcasts"). Sorry, I'm just not swallowing that muted, apologetic characterization of Spygate.

In his initial strongly worded statement of punishment, Roger Goodell essentially had it right, imo:

"This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field."

The commissioner of the NFL clearly didn't buy Belichick's explanation-- why then should I?

721
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 11:58am

GlennW,

It’s almost as if as time passes, Belichick was simply doing his job, and the big bad Boston Herald and the rest of the media are responsible for some false perception of cheating and lying

What I think is happening is that when the story first broke, and then again when the (now largely debunked) allegations of walkthrough taping emerged, the anti-Belichick reaction was a bit...overblown is probably a diplomatic way of putting it. Read some of cd6's posts, for example. (No offense cd6...I know you just feel about the Patriots the way I feel about certain other teams... part of the fun of being a sports fan!). Now, as time has passed, I think most people are coming to the realization that, while the Pats broke the rules, they're not the Chicago "Black Sox" and talk of stripping titles and disbanding the franchise as punishment iare a bit...um...extreme.

The Herald's story is a large part of why the reactions got overblown (although a meddlesome politician with an agenda didn't help). So I think a lot of the downplay now is the back-backlash against the irrational hype, if that makes sense.

I think everyone still admits that the Pats broke the rules, and that if one has a problem with taping signals, then the Pats needed to be punished to send the message and make everyone stop doing it.

722
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 12:13pm

As far as Belichick's statement, put me in the camp of not buying it, either, but I don't blame him for making it. He's a politician and a person who tries to find any loophole he can and exploit it.

I'm thoroughly convinced that Belichick thought the rule was vaugely or badly written and therefore had thought he'd found a loophole (and after seeing the text of the original rule, I can understand why), but he knew that what he was doing was technically against the rules, and knew that if he enquired about it he would be told to stop, and would have to. So he didn't ask, but just kept doing it, thinking if it came up, he could just claim "oops, my bad, I misunderstood".

It's the same way that a lot of people at various jobs I have worked at are technically required to take long, boring, pointless 2-hr web training courses that don't really impart any information if they fall in a certain category of employee. The category is vaugely defined, so no one takes the course, thinking they can always claim "oh, I didn't realize that I had to. I'm sorry". At the same time, no one asks "do I have to take this course", because if they do, they have a strong suspicion that they will be told "yes" by their manager, and then they'll have to take it.

This thinking on Belichick's part was probably re-inforced by the fact that the Patriots DID get caught taping signals two or three times that we know of in the preceding years, and each time they recieved less than a slap on the wrist. They were just told "yeah, you should really probably not be doing that". This probably re-inforced the idea that if someone did call him on the taping, he would be OK saying "oops, my bad, I misunderstood", and would be given a small penalty.

When the story first broke, Pat was arguing vehemently, and I agreed, that the league was worthy of some blame for handling this badly, but not punishing the Patriots previously when they got caught, and therefore encouraging the behavior. Nor did the league spell out in the memo what the punishment would be for videotaping if caught. If the first time (say, the Packers game) the league had issued a warning, and the second time (say, the Detroit game) the league had fined Belichick and the team, and then stated in the memo that any team caught taping signals would be docked draft picks, the Patriots almost certainly would have stopped, and if they had not, then Belichick would have no excuse whatsoever. But I can understand, if not endorse, his actions given the way previous offenses were handled.

If a teenager gets caught speeding three times, and all three times he just gets a warning, and then reads in the new drivers manual that "all speeding is prohibited", do you think any of that will deter him from speeding? And is it that inexplicable that he would continue to speeed? Now what if you were allowed to speed if you own a red car, and the teenager drives a maroon car? Don't you think he might be even more likely to speed, because he figures that, while his car is not technically red, he can claim that he thought it was close enough?

723
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 12:27pm

Let me ask you this: (this is for GlennW, but anyone feel free to answer)
Why would you intentionally break a rule, knowing that it's at the cost of $500K - 12% of his annual salary at the time, $250K of someone else's money, AND a major asset like a first round draft pick?
You wouldn't. You would never, in any way, ever do this intentionally.
Videotaping of handsignals and correctly interpreting them in anyone's opinion, including mine, does not encourage fair play or promote honest competition, if not every team is allowed to do it. That's the line Belichick crossed right there. The question is was he a victim of the interpretation or was he exploiting it? Given the likely punishment, I say he's an idiot, not a cheating a-hole on the scale he's being made out to be.
I would still admit that even if it were legal, it's a shady practice. I'm not ready to submit that he was just "doing his job." But the scale is completely wrong. With the extra 3 months and lack of resolve, sprinkled with lies and hyperbole, add in his success and one internet, and the result is an unusual hatred for a man and the organization he works for.

Regarding the "3 months worth of published lies from ESPN and the Boston Herald that were referenced in countless other publications and broadcasts":
If anything published since last September referenced something other than videotaped handsignals, to this day it is an unsubstantiated lie. There's no getting around that.

724
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 2:33pm

> Why would you intentionally break a rule, knowing that it’s at the cost of $500K - 12% of his annual salary at the time, $250K of someone else’s money, AND a major asset like a first round draft pick?

I think MJK already answered this question for me, quite nicely in fact-- I too believe Belichick thought he could continue to get away with a known illegal practice he'd already been caught at while remaining unpunished, and even if he were to be caught again, the punishment would not be nearly so severe as what Goodell ultimately felt was just (in a nutshell, on a number of disciplinary issues during his short tenure Roger Goodell has been no Paul Tagliabue, and that's been for the betterment of the league, imo). That conscious miscalculation of the eventual penalty (if any) seems completely reasonable to me, and in fact more believable than your suggestion that Belichick simply neglected to read the league memos (perhaps along with the rest of his personal mail).

As to the last point, I guess I have a hard time reconciling why an obvious fib from Belichick can be brushed off as a "misinterpretation", but a mistaken media report is an outright lie. And in the case of the ESPN reports (as opposed to the Herald), I'm not even sure what you're referring to; I'd like to see one such example, and an explicit reference to such intentional reporting of a known false statement. Mike Fish regurgitating Matt Walsh's suggestive comments isn't lying; it's verbatim reporting of the statements of the principal, relevant subject of the story. Even Gregg Easterbrook didn't lie-- he often engaged in wanton, feckless speculation, but he always made it clear that he was only speculating. Ultimately with that kind of wandering editorialism the writer only discredits himself, but merely by being wrong of opinion, not libelous. In any case I wasn't fooled by it, and it doesn't change my opinion of Belichick and the nature of his actions one bit.

Frankly I think you're focusing too much on the media (always a prime suspect with almost any important issue) as opposed to the truth, which can and (mostly) has come out, albeit slowly. I give discerning readers (including most of our FO commentators) more credit in their analyses than to assume that their opinions are all being colored by Easterbrook, Specter, etc. Those are separate issues. In fact I'm hearing (and also personally) believe the opposite-- Belichick cheated and lied, but Arlen Specter is nonetheless a bad national joke, etc. Those opinions aren't mutually exclusive, not hardly. But even now, as Walsh prepares to meet up Goodell, I still want the facts and all the facts, however trivial and merely confirmational those facts may be at this point. A story only finally dies when all the facts are exhausted, which is only natural and proper. The point of "enough already" will soon be reached, and maybe even as early as the end of this week.

725
by Lance (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 3:30pm

Re, "Let me ask you this: (this is for GlennW, but anyone feel free to answer)
Why would you intentionally break a rule, knowing that it’s at the cost of $500K - 12% of his annual salary at the time, $250K of someone else’s money, AND a major asset like a first round draft pick?
You wouldn’t. You would never, in any way, ever do this intentionally." I'm pretty sure that people do wrong things all the time even when they are well aware of the very stiff penalties. They do so because the are convinced that they will get away with it. Prisons are full of such people.

726
by CoachDave (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 8:42pm

"When the story first broke, Pat was arguing vehemently, and I agreed, that the league was worthy of some blame for handling this badly, but not punishing the Patriots previously when they got caught, and therefore encouraging the behavior. Nor did the league spell out in the memo what the punishment would be for videotaping if caught. If the first time (say, the Packers game) the league had issued a warning, and the second time (say, the Detroit game) the league had fined Belichick and the team, and then stated in the memo that any team caught taping signals would be docked draft picks, the Patriots almost certainly would have stopped, and if they had not, then Belichick would have no excuse whatsoever. But I can understand, if not endorse, his actions given the way previous offenses were handled."

I've tried to stay out of this...but this latest bit from MJK was just too much.

"and therefore encouraging the behavior"

Are you freaking kidding me?

"and then stated in the memo that any team caught taping signals would be docked draft picks, the Patriots almost certainly would have stopped"

Right. After pursuing an illegal practice for close to a decade, if they had to be warned with a specific penality like a petulant little child...THEN THEY WOULD HAVE STOPPED?

I can't fathom the delusional nature of any knucklehead who whines and cries about irrational hate and media overreaction while at the same time tries to defend and rationalize these actions with such notions of irrational lunacy and absurb ridiculousness.

MJK...you are truly biased beyond any point of clarity and credibility at this point...quite frankly at a level beyond ANYONE that posts on this site...and that's saying A LOT.

727
by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:36pm

"Why would you intentionally break a rule, knowing that it’s at the cost of $500K - 12% of his annual salary at the time, $250K of someone else’s money, AND a major asset like a first round draft pick?" Because the risk is far outweighed by the reward. How much money have the Patriots and Belicheck made from these Superbowl victories? While $750,0000 sounds like a lot of money, it isn't. And the first round draft pick doesn't mean as much to a playoff team who is probably picking in the final 6 picks. This is my biggest complaint about the way the NFL handled the whole thing, the penalty was insufficient. It won't deter teams from trying similar measures to gain a competitive edge. Coach Belicheck should have been suspended for 2-4 games, and they should have had to forfeit the Jets game. Ernie Adams should be banned from ever holding a position in any team's front office. He's the one that orchestrated the whole system, and he should have to bear the responsibility for it.

728
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:52pm

CoachDave,

So you think an acceptable way to handle a team that is committing a (in the opinion of many, somewhat obscure and technical) rule infraction is to

(1) allow them to commit three (that we know of, maybe more) offenses with no punishment whatsoever,

(2) then issue a leaguewide memo reiterating that what the team was doing was technically against the rules, but to fail to establish any defined system for punishing the offense, and finally

(3) when the team commits the infraction one more time, to hit them without warning with a punihsment that is historically the largest penalty every assessed against a football team in the history of the league?

I hope you're not a parent...or anyone in charge of designing a system of discipline.

I'm not saying the Pats didn't break the rules, I'm saying that the league mishandled their breaking of the rules from day one, even before they destroyed evidence and tried to cover things up.

729
by cd6! (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 9:10am

721
Read some of cd6’s posts, for example.
Everyone should! My posts are, without exception, all genius.

725 and 727 said perfectally what I would have replied to the "nobody would cheat with that penalty as an option" argument.

728
So you think an acceptable way to handle a team that is committing a (in the opinion of many, somewhat obscure and technical) rule infraction is to
...
I hope you’re not a parent…or anyone in charge of designing a system of discipline.

a) Teams don't get the right to decide which rules are "obscure" and thus don't need to be followed.
b) When the league sends out a memo that explicity says "don't do this" and you do it anyway, you've completely lost the "oops, I didn't know about it" excuse.
c) Though they act like it, the Patriots aren't children. They knew what the rules were, and they shouldn't even need to know what a punishment might be, because they're expected to act like professionals. Knowing the punishment would merely allow you to consider the risk of continuing the infraction vs. the possible punishment you can incur. At that point, you're deciding whether or not to continue breaking the ruls.

Again, this is not an argument that's going to win the Pats any sympathy.

730
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 9:11am

728:
It's an interesting point about the jump from zero penalty to an historically high penalty.

In 2005, another team violated the same rule (the use of unapproved electronic devices on the sidelines), only this time it was clear (and admitted) that the device was being used to decide what plays to call in that very same game, with obvious (and admitted) playoff implications. (See link - near the end of the article.)

The penalty? $25,000.

Yep. The punishment for being the Patriots and NOT gaining in-game advantage is $750,000. If you're some other team and DO gain an advantage, the penalty is 1/30 the size.

731
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 10:37am

Using a cellphone to receive information on the playoff tiebreaker implications, versus eight seasons of illegal sideline videotaping? Just stop it, Patriot apologists; you're killing us. No one believes that all infractions are created equal-- improper uniform dress shouldn't imply a loss of draft picks either. At best one could only argue (as I did earlier) that Paul Tagliabue was soft on crime in general and merely cut the Patriots a break in the past. Roger Goodell isn't, and didn't. Even if I accept MJK's possible explanation (I generally do), that's still the risk a team takes when it ignores such warnings. Thus the blame rests with the team, not the league (which the team openly accepted; I don't contest that).

732
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:20am

Hee hee. gotcha! You guys are soooooooooooooo insecure.

Cell phone call by coach during the game: always illegal regardless of topic. Affects the course of the game, if the topic is strategy (do we need a tie or a win to make the playoffs?) or tactics (what plays should I call?).

Videoing opponents' signals:
legal from many locations, only illegal from certain locations, or (and? or? depends on your interpretation of a badly worded memo, I guess) if accessed during the game. If not accessed during the game, does not affect the course of the game in any way.

Hmmmmmm..... I wonder which would undermine the integrity of the game.....

I know! The one that makes the commissioner look like an idiot!

733
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:34am

Out of curiosity, why are the opinions that (1) the NFL has handled Spygate badly from start to finish poorly, and (2) that the media fanned the flames inappropriately construed to mean that I am a Patriots apologist? It's perfectly valid to believe that the Patriots broke the rules and deserved to be punished, and at the same time hold other opinions like the ones I just listed, and hold the opinion that some folks who are screaming for a lifetime ban of Belichick or somesuch are being too extreme.

In short, what I believe it:

* Belichick knew that he was probably doing something that was not technically allowed, but figured no one would care, or that he would get at most some miniscule punishment if the league ever decided to start caring. The fact he had been caught multiple times and never been punished reinforced this belief.

* What he was doing WAS against the rules (barely--see the many points made throughout this and other threads about taping being acceptable if done from a slightly different location, and recording signals from the sidelines being acceptable as long as you used a notebook and binoculars instead of tape).

* I believe (my opinion) that the advantage gained from the taping was definite but very, very small, and probably pretained mostly to building a database of coaching tendencies, scouting and self-scouting, and maybe you get lucky and a coach is lazy about changing his signals, which could win you one extra game, maybe. I don't think it gave any advantage in the game the tapes were made--the logistics are just too hard to envision.

* Despite that, because what BB did was against the rules, and in blatant violation of a recent legaue memo, Goddell needed to punish the Patriots publically to dissuade other teams from doing it. The Patriots were violating a rule and deserved a punishment.

* All that being said, I think Goddell botched this from start to finish. Because Tags had failed to punish the Patriots and other teams at all for taping from the sideline, a precedent had been established that it was technically against the rules but OK in practice. Goddell's memo was meant to clear that up, but failed to spell out what future punishments would be, and technically banned practices that were still considered OK (taping from the end zone, for example), and hence left room for confusion, despite what some have argued in this thread.

Then, with no warning of punishment escalation, Goddell put on his "big bad new sherriff in town hat" and hit the Patriots with the sitffest penalty in the history of the league with no warning.

Then, the LEAGUE destroyed all the evidence, refused to talk about it, acted like there was a coverup, and (the signs indicate) probably forbade the Patriots from talking further about it.

This lead to public questions, Specter's involvement, and the issue not dying. The league mishandled the whole situation.

* I don't know what to think of Matt Walsh, but he either is seeking glory/money/fame based on his role, trying to get even with the Pats for firing him, or just a normal, honest guy who got caught up in this and who rampant specualtion and shoddy journalism has set up to be either a heroic whistleblower or a demonic scumbag. Don't know which, thanks to the sloppy journalism involved.

* The Herald is a rag that decided to profit from this by unfounded speculation on the eve of the Superbowl.

* Specter is a bit of a jerk for interfereing in a place that a Congressman really has no business interfereing, and is likely grandstanding either to pander to Comcast, or his own constituency.

I don't see how any of these opinions are contradictory or mutually exclusive, or are "Patriots apologetic". They broke a rule. They got caught. They got punished. In the process of doing so, they revealed that Goddell is kind of an idiot in how he handles stuff, the Herald is a rag, disgruntled ex-employees maybe cannot be fully believed, and Congressmen like to meddle in deference to their lobbyists instead of solving the real problems that face the nation. Nothing enlightening here, but unfortunately our beloved sport of football had to become involved.

734
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:38am

Yeah, that's the answer-- the punishments have been misapplied; the commissioner is an idiot.

Still awaiting word from the idiot Goodell this morning; Walsh and his attorney have bolted for Specter's office after their meeting with Goodell. Media are presently viewing the sideline videotapes (yawn).

735
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:51am

That last comment from me was for nat (on the NFL's cellphone punishment), not you MJK. Although you do refer to Goodell as "kind of an idiot", which is a stretch, but for the most part your conclusions are reasonable. I have also criticized Goodell, but mostly from the opposite end, not only for destroying the tapes but more importantly for taking five months to tell us precisely the extent of the Patriots' activities, and even then only under pressure (again, no story ever dies until the full truth is told or exposed). From the other side, if Goodell had issued explicit warnings, he'd done his job in that area imo. Detailing penalties and such would only serve to lock him into a response, where the penalty really should depend on the precise nature and extent of the offense.

736
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 12:37pm

Nice to hear Goodell say for the record that stealing coaches' signals is permissible (just not by using tape).

737
by passerby (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 1:03pm

How come no one mentions about this NYTimes article stating that leage officials saw someone spying on the Patriots' practice before the same Super Bowl? If the rage is about spying, shouldn't this at least get a mention?

738
by Vern (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 1:28pm

AND we have confirmation that the tapes were never used during the game. It always was about scouting for future tendencies.

So the competitive advantage is down to this: how much better are scouting notes taken from watching a tape of a coach during the week, vs. notes taken real time on a pad during the game? There IS some advantage, or they would not have done it, but VERY VERY little advantage!

739
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 1:50pm

Spying on Super Bowl practices? Matt Walsh apparently admitted to this, although I don't consider this news to be a bombshell at this point given its fairly superficial nature.

I've made this point repeatedly, but in spite of what is only for his own good, Roger Goodell just seems incapable of providing the information and all the information right up front (linked). From Gregg Levy:

"[Matt] Walsh was asked during the interview today whether after the [Rams] walkthrough, anyone asked him about what he had seen. He said 'yes'. He saw Brian Daboll, who I understand is an assistant coach for the Patriots -- or was at the time -- and Daboll asked him what he saw. Walsh said two things -- one, he had seen Marshall Faulk in a formation to receiver a kickoff or a punt, and he had been asked about offensive formations, particularly about the use of the tight end. My understand is that is not consistent with what we had learned prior to the interview, during the course of the invesitgation. At this point, it's uncorroborated, but it's something the league is going to look into."

"As I was walking the commissioner to the car, he said 'nobody asked me about that and it would be worthwhile to make sure people have that tidbit."

740
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 1:54pm

[post edited for breaking the page width]

741
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 2:42pm

736:
I didn't see that in the clip on NFL.com. Did Goodell really make that clarification? Or are you just pulling our legs?

742
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 2:47pm

Note: Brian Daboll was, at the time, the Patriots WR coach. I *think*. Seems odd that a WR's coach would be asking about the other team's offense and special teams, but maybe I have his position at the time wrong, or maybe all the coaches put their heads together.

GlennW:
I think you and I are on a similar, if not the same, page. I don't actually think Goddell is an idiot; I just think the way he has chosen to handle the whole affair from start to finish has been unwise (i.e. "idiotic")--first, going from no punishments to a historic punishment (which, among other things, gave everyone the idea that there must be something really really bad TO punish), and then destroying all the tapes and being so reticent to reveal any details. Put these things together and everyone got the impression that it was a much bigger story than it was. And conspiracy theories abounded. Not exactly what the commissioner should be working for, since he's charged with maintaining the league's crediblity.

I thought it was interesting that Belichick had a very frank and open interview about the affair shortly after Goddell was forced to reveal more details. Almost as if the idea to keep everything so secret was Goddell's idea. I think it would have been better for Belichick at the time to say "look, here's exactly what we were doing, and exactly what we used the tapes for. Sorry, we screwed up. We didn't think it was a big deal because we weren't using the tapes in the same game." We all assumed he didn't because he's a reticent kind of guy. But I wonder if Goddell told him to make no comment (the Patriots' press release at the time hinted at that...saying it was a "league matter" and further inquiries should go to the league.)

743
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 2:58pm

#718 MJK, Purds is a Colts fan?!?! I feel so soiled being mentioned in the same post as a lowly Colts fan!

Wait, wait, I'm talking civilly to a Pats fan??!! Arrrrgh! I need a shower!

Joking aside, I concur with Purds's comments above. There are plenty of Pats fans I disagree with, but at the same time plenty I'd be happy to spar with for a few hours about the NFL. MJK included. It would be flat-out boring if everyone was a Colts fan. Don't get me wrong; the world would be a vastly better place. Just a tad boring ;-P

Oooh, I forgot to mention my favorite part of the media coverate of Spygate (r) today: "The most scandalous part of the tapes shown before Goodell’s news conference had nothing to do with stealing signals — it was several minutes of close-ups of San Diego Chargers cheerleaders performing during a 2002 game."

Shame on you, Mr, Walsh. The NFL is a hormone-free league, bub. In fact, maybe that's the REAL reason Walsh was canned--wasting valuable video time on cheerleaders.

744
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 3:01pm

OK, I just watched the press conference.

So it seems like, as in many "scandals", the story is that there really isn't much more of a story.

Except...wait a second...something new...

THE PATRIOTS HAD CLOSEUP VIDEO OF THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS' CHEERLEADERS!!!!!

ROAST THE SEXIST PIGS!!!!!

745
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 3:03pm

oops, that's coverage and not coverate, whatever the hell that is.

746
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 8:06pm

Re: #741

I don't know what's in any "clip" on NFL.com now. I watched the press conference live on NFL.com (the NFL Network coverage was webcast live) this afternoon. In any event here's the NFL.com transcript of the press conference, which contains the following:
Again, according to NFL policy, it is permissible to scout people's coaching signals, and as you know, clubs go to great lengths to protect those. They change them frequently and they change them during the game. So I think that teams are sophisticated enough to know that that's a possibility and they go to great lengths to address them. But it's impossible to know the specifics about how much impact it has. I believe that, to me, that there is a permissible way to do this; that they prepare for that.

747
by Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 8:20pm

To GlennW
Can you or someone else help me with this one? You say that Walsh informed the Pats about Special teams formations, but the Rams (Vermil, and other players I believe) have told us through the media that they only ran through Red Zone plays.

748
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 9:33pm

Re: #741, 746

I blew the link. This is the NFL.com transcript..

749
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:40pm

MJK, great minds think alike. Sometimes.

750
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:15am

Yes, sometimes...

:-)

751
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:52am

My initial reaction to "spygate" was that it wasn't that big of a deal. However, having watched how this has all played out, I'm now convinced that the Patriots' titles are all in no small part a result of seven years of cheating.

752
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 7:19am

746:
Thanks.

So "stealing signals" is legal. Video is legal and commonly allowed (from other locations). After-game study is a legit purpose.

Belichick thought that "inaccessable during the game" made the sideline location okay, because that's what the league memo seems to say. He was wrong about that, at least by the commissioner's interpretation.

So why the huge fine for a violation of this type? Goodell himself says why: he's "never accepted" Belichick's interpretation as an honest mistake.

From Goodell's point of view, Belichick's public and aboveboard actions are not a sign of honest belief that he was acting within the rules, and so must therefore be a brazen flaunting of his own authority. Hence the giant smackdown.

In the end, it all hinges on Goodell thinking that Belichick is a liar, compounded by Belichick acting as if he were honest.

753
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 8:51am

The Boston Herald, in an attempt to avert a major lawsuit, issued an apology to the Patriots today. The entire front page is taken up by the words "Sorry, Pats". The text of the apology is

While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed.

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots’ owners, players, employees and fans for our error.

In short, either someone lied to them, or they reported a rumor as fact. Either way, they passed on harmful false allegations, making little effort (none, really) to verify their claims.

754
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 10:24am

> You say that Walsh informed the Pats about Special teams formations

Goodell said that Walsh told him that, and I don't see any reason for Walsh to have lied or to have been mistaken about something so specific and so trivial (by comparison Vermeil by now easily could have forgotten about a couple special teams run-throughs). In any case, Goodell confirmed that no league rule was broken (apparently Walsh was authorized to be there, or wasn't asked to leave), so no big deal.

> So “stealing signals” is legal. Video is legal and commonly allowed (from other locations).

Clarification here: videotaping for the specific purpose of recording opposing signals is illegal from *any* location. The NFL clarified this in the 2006 memo ("prohibited... at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game") and has since reaffirmed that position.

Given the Boston Herald's apology in immediate response to Walsh's testimony, I still believe that Walsh was quite possibly their source. If the source was someone else, why would the Herald only now state "we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed"? I suppose Walsh's statement that he never saw or heard of a walkthrough tape might finally have been enough to convince the Herald beyond a doubt that their (different) source was mistaken or lying, but given Walsh's suggestive comments and coyness over the past three-plus months, it seems just as likely that he was the source looking to make a cheap score at the Patriots' expense.

755
by Sunil (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 11:11am

The most damning piece that isn't being spoken much about is how Matt Walsh was told to not get caught videotaping opponents. If Belichick (as he claims) was working within the rules of the NFL, why would there be a concern to avoid being caught? Something just doesn't add up here.

756
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 11:22am

> The most damning piece that isn’t being spoken much about is how Matt Walsh was told to not get caught videotaping opponents.

I don't really consider this confirmation so damning because the Patriots knowing the videotaping practice was against the rules has been a foregone conclusion in my mind from the start (that's just common sense). Goodell was smiling and chuckling when he again explained that he's never bought Belichick's explanation of "I misinterpreted the rule". Herm may be the last true believer here though (sorry to single you out Herm; you've just been that last/latest commentator on this element).

757
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 11:48am

OK, long post here, because I'm still too much in the process of waking up to do work yet this morning, and this is an interesting topic. Sorry for the lenght...

Sunil,

GlennW and I have been discussing that. It doesn't have to be A or B. Belichick didn't have to be 100% certain that he was allowed or not allowed to do so (although, in light of Walsh's statements, maybe we should say "Ernie Adams", not "Belichick", since it seemed like Belichick wasn't directly involved in any of the taping. He is still ultimately responsible, of course, being the head coach, but it may well be that he was not the one making the exact decisions of what to tape or not to tape, and what the videographers like Walsh were told/warned/not told).

I'm sure there are things in your life/work/whatever that you're not really sure if they're strictly allowed or not, but if no one seems to care, you're not about to ask if they're OK because you might get told "no" and then you'd really have to stop doing them, whereas as long as no one calls you on them, and you are careful not to actually research the issue too closely for yourself, then you'll probably keep doing it.

Maybe not everyone does this, but I'm sure most people do, at least on minor issues (like traffic or parking rules) or silly policies at their job, and possibly on moderate issues, like filing their tax returns. I know I certainly have. It's not a calculated, evil attempt to break the rules, nor is there a strong conviction that you are absolutely in the right. It's just an opportunity to get ahead that a little bit of uncertainty makes you feel like you're OK with, as long as no one seems to care.

Not to trivialize spygate with minor analogies, but here's a couple of examples:

Most cities have very strict ordinances about how close you can park to a corner or driveway, and most of the time it's more (like 10-15 feet) than most parkers usually leave (generally 4-8 feet, except in Boston, where it's closer to 15 inches). When someone parks in that "maybe it's a little too small" spot, most folks don't get out with their measuring tape, and if their car is 8" too close, decide to park somewhere else, especially if parking is tight. Instead, they vaguely know that they're probably violating the letter of the law, but (1) as long as it's not too egregious, they know they're unlikely to get a ticket, and (2) as long as they DON'T measure the distance, they can live with themselves because they don't directly KNOW that they're violating the law. So they do it. In this anology, spygate would be like the city issuing a press release that they would be enforcing parking regulations more strictly, but not specifying any punishment, and then a vindictive parking Nazi (you all know who you are), goes around measuring distances from corners to cars, reports violators, and then the city tows and impounds any cars that were too close. (This happened to me once).

Another example:
Technically, if you recieve an academic scholarship, grant, or fellowship, it is not taxable, but if any part goes to room or board, that portion is. However, the granting agency doesn't report such funds to the IRS, so if you don't report it, they'll never know unless they do a thorough audit. A friend of mine was attending grad school on a fellowship and was not reporting the portion of her grant that she was paying room and board with as income, and hence was doing significantly better at tax time then the rest of us. Now, the IRS rules for grants and stipends are extremely difficult to find, although they are out there. I mentioned that she should check up on that, because I knew the rule (I had researched it myself, because I was afraid of a potential future audit) but she refused. She said she had heard that it wasn't taxable, and that was good enough for her, and besides, it's not likely the IRS would audit a grad student on the low end of the income curve over a couple of thousand dollars per semester. I think she was unwilling to look it up because she didn't want to find out that she SHOULD have been paying taxes and mess up the financial advantage she had, and didn't feel like she had to because she had never been audited and thought no-one would ever care.

In both cases, a person is doing something that they know might be, even might probably be, either wrong or in violation of the letter of a rule. And in both cases, they will try to avoid calling the authorities attention to what they are doing--the parker will hope that one notices how close his car was, and my friend isn't about to send a letter to the IRS saying "I have this income that may be taxable, but I'm not reporting it". And so the Patriots videographers were instructed to keep a low profile, because what they were doing was borderline at best, and probably was against the rules, in the Patriots' eyes. But in all these cases, because they think the threat of punishment is small, and because there's some loophole in how clear the rule is or how accessible it is, they are fine continuing to take the action.

I suspect spygate is exactly the same. The Patriots knew that what they were doing was probably technically against the rules, but there were sufficient loopholes for them to justify it in their own minds, and past precedent had led them to believe that no one would call them on it and if someone did, the penalty would be small or nothing.

758
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:17pm

754: GlennW

You are misreading the league memo. Opponents' signals are only mentioned as an example of "any type" of video that is banned in the conditions defined by the memo.

The memo says...

Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game

Stripping out the examples, you get the operative parts of the rule as written in the memo:

Videotaping of any type...is prohibited...[in] locations accessible to club staff members during the game

Goodell makes the rules, and he defines the sidelines as accessible, regardless of the actual situation and safeguards, and regardless of whether the video is actually accessed.

Well, that reading is possible, but it ain't at all what you'd call obvious.

759
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:35pm

The word "accessible" is clearly used in regard to the location of staff members, not the accessibility of the videotape itself to others during the game. Your explanation is weak, but consistent with the Patriots' (well, Belichick's) attempts to point to any loophole to explain away the practice; unfortunately even those loopholes aren't big enough to pass a needle through.

Mike Reiss just covered this supposed "technicality" in a recent mailbag, and to his credit, he's straightforward about it (linked):

"I've heard that it's not against the NFL rules to tape opponents signals but it was the point on the field from where the Patriots taped the signals that was the problem. Is that correct, and if so do you know where in the rule book that is stated?
Jack, Texas

A: Jack, taping signals of opposing coaches, regardless of location, is against the rules. The NFL clarified that in the September of 2006 memo from Ray Anderson, although from a technical standpoint, the league should probably now be writing that into the Constitution & Bylaws."

760
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:36pm

To expand, a bit....

Goodell's interpretation is possible. I believe it is what he intended to communicate.

Belichick's interpretation is possible - in fact, in some ways more straightforward than Goodell's. (How so? It applies "during the game" and "accessible" to all the same things, which Goodell's interpretation does not.) I believe that either Belichick thought it was what was meant, or that it was close enough to the intent that it didn't matter.

Goodell's assertion that merely disagreeing with his interpretation is proof the Belichick was lying is arrogant. The memo is badly worded. Goodell has shown zero proof other than his intuition that Belichick was lying.

761
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:53pm

What I think makes the memo a little confusing, aside from its actual content, is that it is apparently permissible to have your videographers taping things from the ENDZONE (not the sideline), depsite the fact that a strict interpretation of the memo would imply that this isn't the case.

In fact, the Jets (ironically) were called on this exact issue--they were caught taping things from the endzone--and it was decared a non-issue because apparently teams are, and have always been, allowed to tape things from the endzone.

Now maybe it would be illegal to try to tape coaches signals from the endzone, and maybe that's what the memo implies, but strictly interpreting it, the endzone is a location accessible to club staff members during the game. In fact, just about everywhere in the stadium is (remember the classic spygate discussions about building a box with a timelock and robotic camera, or whatever it was?) Yet teams apparently can and do tape things from the endzone. Maybe the memo is a little too strongly worded--in trying to be extremely clear, they accidentally banned a practice that is acceptable, and since they didn't enforce that part of the ban, maybe people thought that they wouldn't enforce other parts of the ban as long as it wasn't a "big deal".

I still agree with Goddell's interpretation, but I can understand why there may have been just enough ambiguity or confusion for Belichick (or someone) to think they could go ahead and tape from the sidelines as long as they didn't use the tapes right away.

762
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 1:57pm

> What I think makes the memo a little confusing, aside from its actual content, is that it is apparently permissible to have your videographers taping things from the ENDZONE (not the sideline), depsite the fact that a strict interpretation of the memo would imply that this isn’t the case.

This is indeed the confusion with the memo, that in a literal reading it apparently prohibits *any* videotaping, which we know not to be the case. Unfortunately for those searching for loopholes, videotaping of signals (as opposed to game play) is explicitly mentioned as a prohibited use, which would seem to be patently obvious in its meaning but apparently not (actually I think we all know exactly what it means, but there's a wannabe lawyer trying to excuse his client in every crowd). Again, to their credit, the Boston media (including Reiss) have flatly rejected this weak defense-- which in this town hasn't been enough to forestall the near-daily entertainment of listening to Dennis & Callahan beat down yahoo caller after caller in these more ludicrous defenses of Bill Belichick.

Nat, Goodell is now "arrogant"
because he can understand the meaning of the words "taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines"? What kind of "proof" are you looking for? If Walsh's testimony on this issue wasn't enough, does Belichick need to take the SAT verbal exam to prove that he is indeed capable of reading at a 4th-grade level?

763
by Anechoic (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 2:39pm

GlennW:

We obviously know what Goddell’s interpretation is, but to say that any other interpretation is weak is disingenuous.

Frankly, if the memo was supposed to "clarify" the prohibition against taping signals, then the wording should have been "Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited."

The danger of enumerating prohibitions is that anything not specifically mentioned is generally considered to be permitted.

764
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:07pm

> "Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited." The danger of enumerating prohibitions is that anything not specifically mentioned is generally considered to be permitted.

"Prohibited (period)", as opposed to breaking out the prohibited locations. I get that part. Except that one of the prohibited locations explicitly enumerated is the sidelines, and the Patriots were taping from the sidelines! How can that possibly be "misinterpreted"? Herm's "Belichick forgot to open his mail" possibility is far more believable than this one.

What I'm hearing (I think) is that if a rule is confusing or incomplete in one area (in this case regarding other uses and locations for videotaping), it might then be justifiable to ignore that rule completely, even the parts that are clearly spelled out. Well, that's an open-ended invitation to lie, cheat, steal or otherwise break rules and commit crimes against just about any statute.

765
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:41pm

This doesn't sound like just "studying defensive tendencies" to me (linked):

"[Specter] said that Walsh told him that a former offensive player for the Patriots told Walsh a few days before a Sept. 11, 2000 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that the offensive player was called into a meeting with head coach Bill Belichick, then offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and Belichick confidant Ernie Adams. During the meeting it was explained to the player how the signal tapes would be used.

"According to Specter's recount of what Walsh detailed to him, the offensive player, who was on the sidelines for the game, would memorize the signals then watch for the Tampa Bay defensive calls during the game. He would then pass the call along to Weis, who would give instructions to the quarterback on the field.

"Specter's statement said that the offensive player told Walsh that it helped the Patriots anticipate 75 percent of the defensive plays being called."

766
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 4:22pm

GlennW:
You hold with those people who insist that Belichick's interpretation of the memo/rule is so far off that it must be a flat out lie.

That's a strong charge to make with no proof other than that.

Also, you have repeatedly quoted parts of the sentence in the memo, but refused to address the whole thing. I have no such fear.

Here's what I'll do. I will explain every single word of the sentence from the memo. Then we can see how far Belichick is from the meaning.

Ready? Go!

Videotaping of any type This sentence will explain the rule as it applies to video. Everything in this sentence applies to every type of video imaginable.

including but not limited to This means I'm about to give some examples. Do not take these as limiting the meaning of "any type" of video. They are just examples. The examples are not special.

taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals Yep. Examples. The rule still applies to "any type of video. Taping referees or medical personnel would also be covered, even though I didn't mention them. As would any other taping.

is prohibited When the sentence is done I will have fully described the times, places, and conditions under which that "any type" of video is prohibited. Prohibiting is what I am doing.

on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations These phrases partially describe places, times, and conditions. Actually, these are just locations, so you'd better wait for the rest of the sentence.

accessible to club staff members during the game That's the condition and the time for all those locations. That completes the description of time/place/condition for the prohibited video.

That's it. Every word accounted for. Unlike you, I don't need to ignore "any type" "not limited to" or the inclusion of "during the game" and "accessible" in the same clause. And I don't need to already know what Goodell said about the rule later.

To sum up...
WHAT: Video (any type)
ACTION: is Prohibited
CONDITIONS: During game, where accessible.
POSSIBLE LOCATIONS: Sidelines, booths, lockerrooms, any other place. That is, any place at all if the conditions are met.
POSSIBLE VIDEO TYPES: All. (examples given)

There is nothing assumed or strained about any of that. Examples are not ignored nor given special powers. Words mean what they mean, to be interpreted based on league precedents if needed.

What's it all mean?

No video during games from accesible locations.

Belichick violated that rule, but claims he thought that it was ok if he did not access the video. Is that reasonable? Or is it so unreasonable that it justifies accuse him of outright lying?

Since "accessible" is always a matter of degree, we'll have to look to the league for hints on this one.

What has the league done before? Has it allowed video from accessible locations? (behind endzones? yes.) Has it ever punished a coach for having a device (such as a cell phone) but not using it? (I don't think so. But it has punished a coach for using one.)

Belichick's crime was videotaping from the wrong location. His supposed lie was saying he believed that setting and following a policy of not accessing the video made the location acceptable, just as it did for the Jets and others.

Does this prove him a liar? Hardly. He believed the same rules applied in the endzone (ok if not accessed, even if accessible) and on the sidelines. He believed the same rules applied to the Patriots as applied to other teams.

He was wrong (obviously) but probably not lying. Without any proof but bluster, it's "specteral" to call him a liar on this point.

Now, GlennW, it's your turn. Can you explain how "any type" means "just video of signals", or how "not limited to" means "just these" or why "during the game" and "accesible" appear together in the sentence but somehow "know" that they each apply to different locations?

767
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 4:42pm

Wow, I just read the highlights from Specter's news conference. To think that I once really respected this guy!

As a member of our government, why doesn't he spend his time...you, know, governing, rather than beating around the bush endlessly grandstanding for a bunch of rabid Philly fans and an obnoxious corporation that happens to be a large campaign donor? Is regulating the finer points of our sporting events something that we as taxpayers are happy that we're paying our senators to do? Are we happy Specter is wasting all this time on this?

He's making a big deal about the Patriots using knowledge of signals to try to decipher plays. (A) OF COURSE if you've figured out the other team's signals, and if they don't change it, you're going to use that knowledge, and it is compltely legal to do so. It's gamesmanship. (B) He's saying he heard from Walsh that Walsh heard from some unnamed guy that that guy heard from coaches in a secret meeting... There's a reason why hearsay is inadmissible in court.

Then Specter is making a big deal about the fact that Walsh was at the Rams walkthrough, and that patriots coaches asked him if he saw anything useful. Of course they did. Is there anything illegal about that? He was there legitimately, and wearing Patriots gear. If the Rams were doing anything secret, they should have not done it in front of a Patriots staff member standing there openly.

When pressed on his ties to Comcast, or if he had heard any real information indicating further Patriots wrongdoing, Specter expertly dodged the questions.

Regardless of whether you're Pro- or Anti-Patriot, does anyone here think Specter is other than a grandstanding jerk right now?

Incidentally, if he wants to play these games, it should be noted that (I believe) both Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are Patriots fans, weild more power at the moment, and (in Kennedy's case, at least) have more seniority than Specter. There's a fair chance that they may block any silliness that Specter tries to do. It would be really really sad if our senators start getting into legislative squabbles over which sports teams they happen to like...

768
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 4:58pm

I went to look for a little background on Arlen Specter and found out about his Hodgkin's Disease recurrence. (see link)

Arlen Spector is a long-time Senator, well-known nutcase, Comcast shill, and rabid Eagles fan (wink). But he's also a fellow human being.

Get well and stay well, Arlen! God bless!

769
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 5:04pm

767, 768:
MJK, the timing may look like I was calling you out for comments on Specter. I wasn't.

He's wasting valuable Senate time that could be spent on legislation and oversight, as the Constitution directs. I wish him good health.... and an early retirement.

770
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 5:14pm

There's no comma, semicolon, period, or intervening verbiage that would cause anyone to think that the words "any other locations" should be logically separated from the following "accessible to club staff members during the game" such that the latter phrase should be considered a separate requirement applying to the physical videotape. "Accessible" is an adjective to "locations", period. That was a lot of work breaking out a fairly simple statement, Nat, but pure obfuscation nonetheless.

Under the most basic rules of logic taught to us in elementary school, the use of the word "or" in the clause "on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game" means that only one of the above conditions need be met to violate the edict. In the case of the Patriots' videotaping practice this logical condition was met at "on the sidelines", so you can stop right there, rule broken. Do you think that maybe Belichick (having flunked both English and Logic courses in junior high school) could have interpreted this entire clause to mean that taping the opponents' lockerroom and coaches' booth might also have been okay, as long as he didn't "access" the tape during that game? Of course not, yet to somehow contort that entire phrase into believing that this might still be okay from the sidelines is ludicrous.

Yeah, Belichick lied. Goodell thinks so, and I think so. Which in context isn't a capital offense, rather just some fibbing in damage control mode, but jeezus, in the face of all evidence to the contrary you'd think the guy's every word is to be taken as pure gospel.

771
by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 5:21pm

> Regardless of whether you’re Pro- or Anti-Patriot, does anyone here think Specter is other than a grandstanding jerk right now?

No, not really. Even if the excerpt I posted describing how the Patriots used previously taped coaching signals is true (and I suspect that it's at least close to the truth), it's not a new allegation, rather only some background information on something the Patriots have already been explicitly punished for. If that's the most that Specter got out of Walsh, it's time for him to move on.

772
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 6:11pm

770:
Cool. So "During the game" only applies to "other locations" too? Or does it magically "know" that it applies to different locations than its companion word "accessible".

And weren't you just arguing that "accessibility" mattered in this case? Why the change of heart now? Wasn't it clear enough before, or did the memo confuse you?

Gosh, you can't keep your story straight. You are soooooo confused. Damn that unclear memo!

Actually, you don't know much about English, either. A comma where you suggest would be incorrect (it's about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, but I digress) But even if not, it's sure unclear which modifiers apply to which locations, ain't it?

The whole thing would be easier if the memo were rewritten a bit to clarify.

But that's the point, isn't it. You can't tell - without already knowing - what it means. But the meaning of the original rule was also unclear - that's why the clarification needed to be sent.

So, what new flip-flop are you going to do next? I may not bother to spank correct you again, since you can't hold to a single story.

Will it be.....

Accessibility matters? Only location matters? Location doesn't matter - all signals videos are banned? Literal interpretations are required? Literal interpretations are bogus?(You've done those five, right?)

Which is it? Or will you come up with yet another inconsistent interpretation?

Or are you up to meeting the challenge: Explain the sentence in the memo, as it was written, every single word, and no words that are not written. Explain why it means that inaccessible video from the sideline is banned, without also outlawing video taping from the sidelines during your own practices. Do that without having "during the game" apply to different locations than "accessible".

You can't do it. Because it cannot be done. Because the memo is a mess.

773
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 6:39pm

MJK 767, I agree to a point, but I would prefer to see our esteemed senators settling their sports fandom differences like men: drunk mud-wrestling.

It would waste less of our money, might even turn a profit as a pay per view item, the proceeds of which would go to the NFL retirement pool of funds. Maybe just a claymation celebrity death match to settle it for once and for all.

774
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 6:43pm

I think I have amply demonstrated that the current vocal proponent of the "the memo is crystal-clear" position can't hold to anything close to a single, consistent interpretation of the memo. If we assume GlennW is not stupid, that means the memo is proved to be very unclear. Quite a feat for a single sentence. (GlennW: hint. Don't argue that you ARE stupid. It would just make matters worse.)

It's been harsh - much more harsh than I would be in any other kind of thread. But sometimes it is easier to demonstrate a point than to argue it.

Proved: Even the most extreme accuser cannot keep to a consistent interpretation of that damned memo.

Why care? Because an NFL coach was fined a huge amount for misunderstanding a memo that is so easily misunderstood, even by a person who believes it to be crystal clear and has no reason to pretend to misunderstand it. Because the commissioner of the NFL has publicly called that coach a liar, based solely on a belief that the memo could not be misunderstood.

I stayed away from this thread for months. I'll probably do that again. It's been .......... interesting.

775
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 6:54pm

I posted this a while back, but in light of today's news I'd like to mention it again. Specter recently went on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio. He said the main reason the Sirius-XM merger hadn't been approved yet by the DOJ (at the time) is because the government has bigger, better and more pressing issues to handle. Ummmm, like Spygate?

It is unbelievable to me that he would make that statement in light of his involvement with Spygate. The hypocrisy is unfathomable, even for a politician.

776
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 6:57pm

Best of health to Specter, and sorry for the vitriol of my previous post, and thanks to Bobman for introducing some levity.

But still, I think we can all agree that there's not much more story here, and Specter should move on to actual important things.

777
by cd6! (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 8:51pm

I think I have amply demonstrated that the current vocal proponent of the “the memo is crystal-clear” position can’t hold to anything close to a single, consistent interpretation of
the memo.
:: nat — 5/14/2008 @ 5:43 pm

Whoa buddy. Hanging the "Mission accomplished" banner a little early, aren't you? Just because GlennW didn't reply to your last post within the half hour window you gave him before declaring victory hardly means you've proved Belichick's interpretation of the memo was honest and truthful.

Belichick was caught violating a league wide rule that everybody else appears to have understood and followed, and upon being caught after years of such cheating, used the alibi of "Well I didn't understand the rule correctly." Guess what, ignorance isn't an excuse.

Because he was caught systematically cheating, with an implausible explanation, anyone suggesting he's being less than truthful about his reasons isn't "accusing him of being a liar with no evidence" its the natural extension of logic that any reasonable person would make.

Explain why it means that inaccessible video from the sideline is banned
This is exactly where your breakdown of the memo isn't convincing Glenn, or anybody. The league memo reads "inaccessable locations" and you're instead ascribing the word "inaccessable" to "video."

If the league really wanted to allow what you claim Belichick honestly believes they meant, why wouldn't they have written something like "Videotaping of the opposing team's signals taken during the game is permitted so long as that tape in not used during that game." And when you start down that path, you get into the incredibly stupid "contract employees in a locked box" scenarios pats fans were trying to use to justify the cheating back when this story first broke.

Thus, I reject the argument that "Belichick is telling the truth!" and submit the only possibilities are that he's incompetent or lying. And nobody really thinks he's incompetent.

778
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 10:36pm

777:
Hey, don't claim things that aren't true.

1) it's not GlennW's slow response that matters. It's that once you give three contradictory meanings for one sentence, the game is over. The memo is unclear, to you (GlennW, that is) at least. He could post instantly, and he still can't erase the proof of his contradictory meanings.
2) My bad for saying video. I meant "video location" instead of video, but it's really not important to the point: three contradictory meanings = proof of confusion. Actually, the fact that Glenn could give non-insane arguments for all three (five? who's counting?) contradictory meanings makes the weakness of the memo even clearer.
3) Actually, lots of other teams violated the rule. The Jets for example, filmed from an accessible location behind the endzone. But that seems to be allowed, because the video was not actually accessed during the game. Not a surprise, since that's the way the rule has been applied for at least seven years. Your "systematic cheating" is proof that the rule was interpreted close to Belichick's way until recently, since he was deemed not in violation, or in trivial/technical violation rather than in serious violation.
4) As for what the league could have said, what you suggest is very close to the actual rule in the bylaws: there the test is not accessibility but actual use to advantage in a game, which Belichick never has been accused of, unless you go all technical and claim with no evidence that the rule meant two different games. That interpretation makes no sense, since it applies only to games your team is playing in.
5) Just because the league could have said it clearly doesn't mean they did. I'm not arguing that the league meant what Belichick thought they meant in the memo. I'm claiming that they failed to say what they meant clearly. And I proved it, thanks to the able help of the otherwise brilliant GlennW.
6) I give you the same challenge. Explain every word in that sentence from the memo. Explain how it is that "during the game" applies to all locations, but that "accessible" applies only to "other locations". Or be reasonable, and accept that the violation rests entirely on whether "never accessed by both team and league policy" is hugely different from "not accessible".

Is the difference really that big? Are you willing to cling to conflicting meanings just to be like Arlen Specter?

779
by RCH (not verified) :: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 11:52pm

At what point does Specter just start wearing a Comcast logo on his blazer? I think I said this several hundred posts ago, but since that was months ago I'll repeat: for a senator who is bought and paid for to be disparaging what is arguably one of the best run organizations in the history of the world is ridiculous.

780
by max (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 7:54am

As a Rams fan, I just want this thing over.

I do believe that Belichick is a slimy cheater, so what? The world is full of them, especially successful ones.

I really hate that there is so much time spent on this crap and people who don't like sports or football are laughing at it.

I guess I blame the Patriots and the Jets for that even more than Spector.

But one thing I do resent is all the Patriots fans taking shots at the Rams for being gullible and allowing themselves to be cheated. Just shut up.

781
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:38am

780:
Max, as a Pats fan, I do not consider the Rams gullible, or think they allowed themselves to be cheated.

The Patriots did to the Rams back then what this year the Giants did to the Patriots. They played a hard game, took what the rules and the refs would give them, dominated one aspect of the game and held close enough in the rest to make the game close, and - in the end - got enough breaks to win.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Rams were the better team that season, just as the Patriots were a better team than the Giants this year.

But the Giants are the champions this year. The Patriots were the champions back then. As good sportsmen, we should acknowledge their accomplishments.

Good luck for the coming season. It would be fun to have the Rams back in the thick of it.

782
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:52am

You don't need 782 comments to explain the obvious... the Patriots cheated and got caught. The BB years will have an * next to them and I am throughly disguisted.

783
by max (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:02am

nat,

Thanks for the kind and classy words.

I agree with you completely on the similarity of the Pat-Rams SB and the Pats-Giants SB.

I'm sure the Pats SB loss was just as tough for you as the Rams SB loss was for me.

I am looking forward to the new year with the hope getting back into mix.

The Rams-Pats game should be interesting this year. I hope they let me into the stadium with my camera. lol.

784
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:10am

Nat, there's been no inconsistency on my part (if you can extract a specific passage where you think I have been, I'd be glad to address it). I conceded that the memo was confusing only with regard to other types of videotaping, but certainly not with regard to the taping of coaching signals, which is explicitly spelled out.

I only briefly played along with your game over the meaning of the word "accessibility" in the passage for the sake of argument, although I think it's irrelevant, because "the sidelines" is explicitly listed as a prohibited location. And the fact is, not only are the sidelines accessible by team staff members, but the videotape is also easily accessible from the sidelines too-- just pop it out and hand it over. So then you moved on to "degree of accessibility", or the Patriots' intent to access the tape during the game, neither of which is relevant to the written rule. Sorry, you're now three levels of misdirection deep, and the English language and the rules of logic would have to be completely redefined to keep up with you.

785
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:48am

783:
Specifics:

754 is where you claim that location doesn't matter and accessibility doesn't matter. That merely taping signals is the violation, and that the memo made this clear.

759 is where you argue that accessibility matters, and that it applies to the location, not the video itself. And that the memo made this clear.

762 is where you argue that the location "on the sidelines" matters.

770 is where you argue that accessibility does not matter if the location is "on the sidelines". And that the memo makes this clear.

I'm sure that you can come up with some weirdly strained explanation for your conflicting beliefs about what the memo clearly said. After all, I've never claimed that Goodell didn't think he was clear. I've just used you to prove that he wasn't clear.

I'm not asking you or anyone to accept Belichick's interpretation as the one true meaning of the memo. I'm not asking you to say that Belichick did not break the rule.

But I have proved - with your unwitting help - that the memo was unclear enough to allow many reasonable but conflicting interpretations. One of those interpretations is that accessibility of the video location matters. That was Belichick's interpretation. It was wrong, as it turns out. But is was reasonable, and in no way proof that he was lying.

Unless you were lying, too? Were you?

786
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:58am

spank. spank. spank.

I'm beginning to think you like this.

787
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:24am

> 759 is where you argue that accessibility matters

Wrong, and this single point appears to be the source of your problem thoughout with my supposed inconsistency. In response to *your* focus on this clause on accessibility, I simply described the meaning of the word "accessible" in the memo (cd6 offered the same description in meaning as mine), even though it doesn't matter *in this case* because before that clause "the sidelines" is clearly spelled out as a prohibited location. Like I said, I played your game, and addressed your point on accessibility-- and as a result I'm somehow contradicting myself! Hey, move the topic in enough directions, introduce some obfuscation ("degree of accessibility"), and yeah, anything becomes "confusing", in your own mind at least. Well done; Belichick would be proud.

Your last response was beyond childish, so I'm done with the debate on linguistics. But I've made my point (more than once, unfortunately).

788
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:24am

Here is an interesting post from someone who claims to be a Patriots insider (on a boston.com message board). Take with large, large. large grains of salt of course.

Some excerpts:

1. We taped defensive signals and offensive formation signals and we still
have video of other teams taping us. They are of little value since no team
uses the same signals even from game to game, quarter to quarter, and
sometimes from series to series. We do it to FORCE the opposition to stay on
thier toes and change signals hoping they mix up signals and have a bad play
that results in a big play for us. There are no offensive signals only
formation signals which are useless and they were taped at the same time as
offensive signals and WERE possibly even on the Spygate tape. Any claims are
baseless on this.

2. As to those that wanted Bill to talk about it after it happened this is
what happened. We were forbidden by the NFL and God, aka Goodell, from
speaking about this in public to ANYONE. Bill was told to keep his mouth
SHUT and to offer no comment before and AFTER the initial resolution by the
NFL. If Bill had commented or held a press conference the fine and penalties
would have been increased. This indicated to us we were guilty before any
investigation and were the example Goodell wanted to show the NFLPA he
wasn't biased towards players only. Quite pathetic if you ask me but again
we were wrong and put ourselves into this position.

789
by Burninator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:34am

I agree with GlennW that the ruling is clearly spelled out, finally, in the updated draft (Sep. 2006?) about the content of what can be taped because that is pretty much the main problem everyone has with the Pats. What's frustrating is some members of the media's attempt to make leaps as to HOW it was used, more so, to satisfy their own AGENDA of getting web site hits, selling newspapers, and captivating TV viewers to make $$. But I digress. Even then, the League (and opposing teams) "ignored" the Patriots (and any other teams?)continued abuse for a year until the JETS (no surprise at their AGENDA) made the NFL aware. --Not sure here but I think that memo was reissued just before the 2007 season?-- The coach and team were PUNISHED. Goodell scoffs at the excuse that Belichick "misinterpreted" the rule since 2000 but STILL felt it necessary to update the language of it. BTW, He's going to scoff because his league would look bad (oh the irony) if he admitted it was poorly worded (his AGENDA is to make his league look good) and that other teams were also taping "stuff", which went against the spirit of the previous, poorly worded, rule - see the JETS (more irony). The Pats may have, from then on, knowingly tried to get away with their "style of taping" but, again I state, were finally PUNISHED and should be for new, future, infractions. Any attempt to go back into history and dig up more dirt on the Patriots is to not only rewrite the sequence of events as if the final outcome came first but is to also say, the Patriots are the only guilty rule breakers in the history of the NFL neccessary of an investigation. They were guilty of violations between 2006-2007 when the rule was clearified and were PUNISHED. Furthermore, they turned over all tapes they had (as if that's significant)and addmitted to taping since 2000.

On another note... how the NFL wants to run it's league is up to them (unless they are breaking laws). And teams are going to continue to "push the rules envelope" to win. We don't know half the stuff that is going on because NO TEAMS want their dirt out there for fear of losing a competitive edge or looking bad in the eyes of public opinion. Goodell levies the punishment when he sees fit - okay by me. I can somewhat understand Arlen Specters attempt to bring the integrity of the league into question (even though he reeks of having a different AGENDA) and it's antitrust agreement but willful misconduct has always been punished in the NFL. It's in their best interest to do so or else compromise the product they put out there. I think the NFL screws up a lot and teams try to take advantage for a competative edge (that is their AGENDA).

790
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:36am

787:
Squirm away, GlennW. I never doubted you would try to wriggle out of your inconsistencies. All that proves is your lack of character.

And you still avoid the challenge. Explain the memo - every word. What weird meaning for "including but not limited to" will you claim? Why does "all types" mean "some types for some rules and other types for other rules" to you? Could it be that you don't like Belichick because he's thumped your team, and will stoop very low to call him a liar? (No, really? What a surprise!)

This game was over 15 posts ago. Get over it.

791
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:40am

More from Specter/Walsh on how the Patriots' videotaping practice was actually deployed (linked):

"Specter also said Walsh told him he was instructed to conceal his filming by saying he was filming tight shots of players or the down markers, and that Walsh was given a generic credential instead of one identifying him as team personnel."

So let's review the entire picture around the perceived legality of this videotaping practice. We have the following evidence:

1) the written rule and clarification warning

2) Walsh's testimony on his covert activity

3) the fact that other teams had removed Patriots' videotapers from their on-field locations, with no resistance or further complaint from the Patriots

Yet to some more biased observers (not you MJK), Bill Belichick really truly sincerely might not have known that he was in violation of the rules (wink wink). Unbelievable!

792
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:13pm

GlennW, to tone it down a bit....

At this point it seems to me that you interpret the league memo as clearly saying four non-contradictory things:

1) Video of team signals is banned from all locations, whether they (or the video) are accessible or used or not.
2) Video of any type is banned from sidelines and a few other specific locations.
3) For all other types of video and all other locations, video is banned if accessible to staff during the game. (In practice, actually accessed - so the Jets and some other teams get off the hook here)
4) No other video is banned by this rule.

Is that a fair statement of your reading of the memo? I'm not trying to trap you here.

As proof of my good faith, I'll telegraph the next move: I'm going to ask you to explain each word of the memo, without resorting to inserting additional words, without excusing unclear words, without leaving words out, without assigning non-standard meanings, without assuming ahead of time which phrases apply where, and without any arbitrary choices.

I've already played. When I played, I did make an arbitrary choice: I applied "during the game" and "accessible" to the same locations. (I had to do something, after all.) But you can't do that, because you are asserting that only one meaning is clear. You have to explain why you apply phrases the way you do, using only the memo as a guide.

Give it a try. Just don't do it part way. Explain every single word.

Good hunting.

793
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:19pm

> I agree with GlennW that the ruling is clearly spelled out, finally, in the updated draft (Sep. 2006?) about the content of what can be taped because that is pretty much the main problem everyone has with the Pats.

Thank you. Sincere yet spirited debate can take place between opposing parties without the need for self-declared victory and commentary on personal character.

As for your commentary, do I think Spygate is over, in essence if not practice? Almost certainly, and I do hope so. I guess I just have a hard time understanding (but probably shouldn't) how there are still those fans out there who believe that it's entirely possible that in his heart Bill Belichick thought he was doing nothing wrong. Astonishing, really. But Roger Goodell made his definitive statement on that matter, and that's really as much as the public is going to get.

794
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:24pm

Click my name for the web link to the Boston Herald's front page apology for getting the Spygate 2001 Super Bowl story wrong.

795
by Drums of Steel (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:40pm

And click my name for a NY Times story on Walsh. My personal favorite? Breaking the red light on the camera so it wouldn't look like it was recording. Good one.

796
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 1:07pm

GlennW:

I used you to demonstrate a point, which, as I said earlier, was harsh. But, other than the tone (this is the irrational thread, after all!), I used you fairly. I never ascribed to you positions you did not take. (Although you now say you took one position as a "what if" rather than sincerely)

You've stated several mutually exclusive interpretations of the league memo. I think you now hold a somewhat complex but consistent view of the memo, which I outlined in the previous post. Did I get it right?

If that is the only reasonable reading of the memo, then you are right: Belichick is either stupid or a liar. If that reading of the memo depends on things other than the memo itself, or depends on assumptions or unusual meanings, then you are wrong: Belichick might be a liar, but calling him one in this case would not be justified.

So give it a try. Explain the whole sentence - why does it only mean what you say it means? Why is your meaning based on standard English while all other readings are somehow tainted?

797
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 1:12pm

My breakdown of the videotaping rule clarification (for the final time, I promise, because I've already done this, just not by parsing "every single word"-- only what was relevant to sideline taping of signals):

Part one:

"Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited..."

I read this to mean that *all* videotaping is prohibited at the defined locations to follow. In case some nefarious type were to be "confused" by those first four words, taping of an opponent's signals is explicitly mentioned as a prohibited type.

Part two:

"on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game"

The list of prohibited locations, any one for which the violation condition is met. The first condition: "on the sidelines". Stop. The Patriots taped the opponent's signals from the sidelines, condition met, Patriots busted.

The last condition may be interesting, but only in that it suggests that there may be some "inaccessible" locations where videotaping is permitted. Because videotaping is indeed allowed from the upper endzone etc., I suspect that the league considers this one such location. This part of the directive is indeed unclear (and I've admitted that all along), but "on the sidelines" certainly is not.

If the Patriots had been taping signals from the upper endzone (which was the topic of the original Q&A I posted from Mike Reiss), they might have had a leg to stand on based on some confusion around the last condition in the rule. Weak in my opinion, but arguable. But on the sidelines, no such loophole exists.

798
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 1:29pm

max,

I'd like to second that I do not think the Rams were gullible or allowed themselves to be cheated. Sorry if you interpreted my comment that way. When I mentioned that it was notable that Walsh was wearing Patriots gear while the Rams were doing their walkthrough, I was trying to imply that the Rams must not have been doing anything they considered secret at that time, NOT that they were foolish, gullible, or anything else. I also don't think that they did do any "cheating" in that game, but hey, I'm biased.

I actually think the 2001 Rams were one of the classiest teams of the league at that time. And I agree with the sentiment that 2001 Patriots : Rams :: 2008 Giants : Patriots.

I especially liked that the Rams were winning so much not just because of talent, but becuase they were innovating. They were running offensive formations no one had ever really seen before, and I love it when teams excel that way. I think they pioneered a new type of offense, and did it in a way that still left them with a decent defense, giving them good balance.

799
by Sunil (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 1:30pm

Re: 756 - MJK - there's too much evidence now against Bellichick to believe he felt he was doing something that was a shade of gray. Some of the examples are directing Walsh to not get caught, snuffing out the red recording light on his camera, instructing him to not wear Patriots gear, telling him to lie about where he was pointing his camera (at the down marker rather then the coach). This seems to be an organized attempt to cheat - what else would explain the need to tape the Steelers who weren't even division opponents since ostensibly Bill B said they taped division opponents for later games. All in all, parking illegally or not reporting taxes is a far cry from deliberately and systematically planning to tape opponents with the knowledge that they were doing something illicit. If you want comparables I would say this is more like destroying the parking meter or falsifying tax records to evade detection!

800
by max (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 2:34pm

MJK,

Thanks. I wasn't pointing toward your comments specifically. It's been a global thing regarding the Rams being guillable. Even guys in the media are taking shots at the Rams.

The Rams have a long and distinguished history. They have been colorful and classy. And probably the most innovative NFL team ever.

The Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" from 1999 to 2001 were an extremely exciting team that provided the greatest entertainment the NFL had ever seen.

I'm glad that there are other fans besides Rams fans who appreciated that.

There were too many others who just wanted to break it rather than enjoy it.

801
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 2:46pm

797:
Thanks, GlennW.

Part One is pretty clear. Video of signals is included in "all types" as an example. No one can claim the "video of signals" is somehow not included in "all types", nor that it is treated differently from other types, at least in this rule. I agree with your interpretation (as the one true interpretation of part one). I even agree with your explanation: "including but not limited to" is used in just that way, to keep people from saying "I didn't know this was a type of video!"

I understand your interpretation of Part Two. You assign "accessible" only to "other locations". You assign "during the game" to the act of videoing in any of the locations. I don't think you say how you reached that conclusion, but it's not unreasonable as a possible interpretation.

But that's just one interpretation.

What if "accessible" were thought to apply to each of the locations, just as "during the game" does? Is that really something only an idiot could think?
Because it's actually more consistent with the bylaw (which bans use of - aka access to - the video during the game. Or at least that is how the rule had been applied for at least seven years) And Goodell claimed that he wasn't actually changing the rule, so it's somewhat reasonable to rely on precedent.

So, it comes down to this:
You and Goodell say Belichick is proved to be a liar because he thought "accessible" applied to each of the locations - as it seems to have done in the past.

I think that's pretty weak proof. Heck, how much time has been spent on this thread over the last N months debating accessability? Why did people bother if it was so clearly not applicable to the Patriots case?

Look. Admit that you and I really have no idea (other than personal like or dislike of the man) whether Belichick was lying or not about the sincerity of his interpretation of the rule and memo. Smart people can apply "accessible" to just "other locations" (as you do) or to each of the locations listed (as I find more reasonable, as it is consistent with how "during the game" is applied).

I won't call you a liar for saying you like one meaning. Please don't call me (or any NFL coach either) a liar for thinking the other one is clearer and/or better matches established interpretations of the original rule.

I DID call Goodell arrogant for accusing Belichick of lying based solely on their disagreement on the clarity of the memo. I still think it is arrogant to insist, not only on your own interpretation, but that anyone who misunderstood your memo or disagrees with your ideas is therefore a liar.

We can disagree about many things. I hope we can agree that a mere disagreement or misunderstanding - especially on a topic that is so unclear - is a far cry from lying.

Let's drop the "liar" charge as not supported by the evidence. I think the "ignorance of the law is no excuse" argument is more interesting and stronger. Don't say that Belichick is a liar; say that given the totality of the memos and discussions and statements up to that fateful day, he ought to have know better than to continue to come so close (on whichever side) to the edge of the rules.

802
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 3:12pm

799:
I see your point, kind of.

But keep in mind that even if Belichick was sincere in his interpretation of the rules, he was well aware that others disagreed and that he was near (on one side or the other) the line.

In particular, he was depending on (1) "accessibility" of the video being the important part of the rule, and (2) "accessibility" being equated with "never actually accessed during the game, by team policy". That's a fine line to walk, even if it is correct. (Even finer if it's wrong, as it turned out.)

So, while he could have taken all the steps you mention because he knew he was in the wrong, he could also have taken them simply to avoid having to make the argument.

To play the analogy game, it could be more like avoiding the police when you're driving after drinking two beers with dinner. You're pretty sure this isn't DUI, but why take the chance?

803
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 3:19pm

> What if “accessible” were thought to apply to each of the locations, just as “during the game” does?

I sincerely believe that is not a defensible parsing of that rather straightforward clause. If "or other locations accessible" is somehow twisted in such a way to mean "prohibited... only if the physical videotape is accessible during the game" from any of the prohibited locations previously listed, then in addition to the sidelines (which are easily accessible during the game regardless) bugging of the opponent's coaching box and locker room is also okay as long as the tape wasn't used during the game, per this "interpretation". That's some damned liberal use of the English language, and really strains any credulity, frankly.

I called Belichick a liar because I strongly believe he told a lie with "I misinterpreted the rule". As do many others, as the evidence continues to pour in on the measures the Patriots took to disguise their videotaping practices (well *before* this rules clarification came out). Okay, so maybe Belichick's not a habitual pathological liar, and maybe he's not going to hell. But he lied about this one; I'm quite certain about that, as is Goodell.

804
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 3:31pm

803:
I just said it was a reasonable interpretation. I even told you why: it treats two related clauses the same way, and it is more consistent with earlier applications of the rule, in my opinion.

I know you reached a different conclusion. You are allowed to disagree.

But are you accusing me of lying about how I reached my conclusion? Are you accusing me of lying? After your speech about civil discussion?

Jeez.

805
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 3:34pm

> (2) “accessibility” being equated with “never actually accessed during the game, by team policy”.

See, this is the final level of misdirection I pointed out earlier. Not only are we (the Patriots) going to blow right past the parts about "videotaping of any type including taping of an opponent’s signals" and "on the sidelines", but now the word accessible doesn't really mean "easy to obtain" as the dictionary says it does, rather it means what our team policy says it does. I mean, c'mon Nat, you and Belichick would be laughed out of court. Unless this was jury trial held in Norfolk County, maybe.

806
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 3:46pm

> But are you accusing me of lying about how I reached my conclusion?

I clearly only accused Belichick of lying. I've accused you of obfuscating in his defense, and I think that's accurate. Again, especially as this new information comes in on the Patriots' disguise tactics (all rather predictable stuff actually, nothing terribly revelationary), I seriously think you're pulling our legs at this point. I heard local radio host Gerry Callahan say that he doesn't think even Belichick would try to float the "I misinterpreted the rule" defense again at this juncture. I mean, the writing's on the wall, time to move on.

807
by Burninator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 4:24pm

My theory...
Before the rule was clarified about CONTENT, Belichik was "overlooking" LOCATION because he wasn't ACCESSING the tapes "in game". Basicaly saying, "if the Jets and any other team can tape from the endzone, and no one knows what they are 'really' taping, and they aren't using it for in-game purposes either, why does it really matter where the camera is located for my purposes? Screw the cloudy and superficial rule." Then it was clearified (regarding coaches signals), which trumps anything about accessability and location, and the Pats were busted. But you can't go back now and dig up the "infractions" from before the clearification. You can call the coach a liar, doesn't matter to me, but EVERY coach is looking for an edge. Every team is looking for an edge. Were the Colts amplifying crowd noise? What were the JETS really taping? Why are the "rule breaking Pats" subject to more probing while the "punished for tampering (Briggs) 49ers" off the hook? Investigate the whole league then. Specter seems to want to go down that road. So fans of other teams... be ready to defend your OWN teams. You will WISH Specter would just go away. Be thankful that, although clumsily handled, Goodell IS trying to make this go away.

808
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 4:52pm

I'm hardly obfuscating. I have asserted all along that I think that "accessible" applies to "on the sidelines" and consistently spelled out why I think so: (1) it should be applied in the same way as "during the game" because it appears in the same clause (2) it is consistent with earlier rulings.

I'm not as certain about whether "inaccessible" should equal "access prevented by policy", but I'm confident that the Jets and others rely on just that interpretation when they film from the endzone, so I understand it when Belichick expects the same ruling to apply to him.

You, on the other hand, refuse those interpretations as proof of lying or obfuscation, not just honest disagreement. The memo is crystal clear, according to you.

And yet, you still believe that the memo clearly states (a) that all video of signals is banned everywhere (b) the rule applies equally to all types of video, and (c) some video is allowed in some locations.

Those three positions cannot all be true. So the one-true interpretation of the rules requires that we believe impossible things?

How can that be clear?

Answer: it cannot be clear. It cannot even be right.

What's the way out of this mess? Accept that the memo was unclear, and that therefore Belichick's interpretation, while ultimately wrong to Goodell (which is what counts), is one that could be sincerely held, and differs from one of your interpretations only in that it applies "accessible" to "sidelines" as reasonable people could and did think before Goodell updated the interpretation.

BTW: your stuff about bugging, etc is just a smokescreen. The memo only applies to video. It was already known that the original rules were unclear. That's why the memo was necessary in the first place.

Nice try, though.

809
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 6:55pm

> BTW: your stuff about bugging, etc is just a smokescreen. The memo only applies to video.

By "bugging" I was referring to videotaping of the opponent's coaches booth or locker room, per the language in the very same memo (and you know this-- this is exactly the kind of obfuscation I'm talking about). Once again (because you've refused to address this point), according to your interpretation of the memo (where accessibility is a separate condition for a violation), even though the opponent's locker room is explicitly listed as a prohibited location for taping (just as with the sidelines), since that location is not accessible during the game, then why not?-- let's go ahead and install the secret camera! (We'll just pick the tape up later, because this meets with team policy on "accessibility".) "I mis-in-ter-pret-ed the rule!"

> And yet, you still believe that the memo clearly states (a) that all video of signals is banned everywhere (b) the rule applies equally to all types of video, and (c) some video is allowed in some locations.

Not even close (and there's nothing more frustrating than having one's position so continually misrepresented). I have stated from the start that the memo is unclear as to what constitutes permissible videotaping from "other locations accessible to club staff members during the game" (even pertaining to taping of signals). However, the memo is perfectly clear on the taping prohibition "on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, and in the locker room".

810
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 7:13pm

There were too many others who just wanted to break it rather than enjoy it.

Oh, trust me. As a fan of one of the other 30 teams at the time, I wanted to break it, too. Just like everyone except Bills fans wanted to break the K-gun, and everyone except Houston (??? I don't remember for sure) fans wanted to break the Run-n-Shoot. But in hindsight, it was an exciting thing of beauty. As I suspect the Patriots 2008 offense will be considered in time, after all issues of spygate have become a forgotten footnote to everyone except cd6.

811
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 7:24pm

Sunit (799)

You make a good point. But question--how many of those things (breaking the recording light, being instructed not to wear Patriots gear) do we actually know occurred? I'm not being obtuse, snarky, or argumentative...I honestly have been getting sick of the whole affair, especially Specter's grandstanding, and haven't been following all the details that closely. Are the incidents you mention confirmed? Are they at least straight from Matt Walsh's mouth that he actually did? Or are they things that Specter claims that Matt Walsh claimed that he heard from some un-named offensive player that some other camera guy was maybe doing?

Secondly, a lot of folks seem to be personally attacking Belichick. That's fine--he's the head coach and ultimately responsible, and if there is a violation that needs to be punished, he should be (and was) punished. However, you have to be careful about making judgements about his character based on the actions of his (very) subordinates. By Walsh's own admission, he never really knew or dealt with Belichick. Maybe the folks that Walsh worked for, up to Ernie Adams, are sleazy, and maybe Belichick is sleazy for having sleazy people work for him, but be careful about attributing "Walsh was told by his superiors to do this" as something that directly reflects on Belichick.

812
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:27pm

It has been reported that Walsh has said that the Pats were able to use the video recordings to allow the offensive coordinator to inform the QB of up to 75% of the defense's plays. Even if other teams were able to (or trying to) glean some information from the signals the opposition showed are there any people out there who think the Pats didn't in this case push the envelope beyond 'competitive advantage' and into 'cheating'. Seriously, playing a game of football in which one team knows the other teams strategy (especially in a game as innately tactical as football) isn't a fair competition at all.

Specter said that apparently Goodell knew about this before, presumably when he said that the Pats weren't able to gain a competitive advantage through their extensive filming activities. I am assuming that the man isn't just an idiot, so he must have been deliberately misleading the public in the hope that this would all just blow over. To be fair to him it nearly did. However it was naive of Goodell to assume that any organisation which has as many employees as an NFL team (and hence as many potential skeletons waiting to fall out of the closet) was going to be able to plug any leaks forever. I would be very suprised if this is the last we hear of this.

The other really annoying piece of bull***t that keeps being bandied about is dubasses saying that it can't be true because the Pats didn't beat the Bucs in the game in question. The Bucs were one of the best teams in football that year and had one of the best defenses the league has ever seen. Furthermore that Bucs defense was predicated upon simple yet deceptive scheme changes and relied on a relatively small number of base packages combined with near perfect execution. They are the incredibly rare example of a team in which knowing which defense they will line up in prior to any offensive shifts could be of comparatively small advantage. Yes the Pats cheated and no they didn't win that game. That fact in itself should never be taken as proof that they weren't able to win championships that they otherwise would not have been able to win.

813
by cd6! (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:32pm

As I suspect the Patriots 2008 offense will be considered in time, after all issues of spygate have become a forgotten footnote to everyone except cd6.

:: MJK — 5/15/2008 @ 6:13 pm

MJK, you're a nice guy, but you're dreaming. For the rest of time, when a Pats fan says "OMG PATS DYNASTY / TOM BRADY IS AWESOME / BELICHICK IS A GENIUS" 95% of the time, a fan of every other team will say "Nope, sorry, they're cheaters."

And the Pats fan will never, ever win the argument. Some of the more hardcore fans, like nat, will apparently devolve into "sure Belichick was a stupid cheater, but don't call him a liar!" as if that somehow is worth any points. Sorry, they're cheaters, and got docked a first round draft pick in the most severe league issued penalty ever. It's undeniable.

And THAT, my friends, is the greatest part of the entire spygate saga.

814
by Smiling Bob (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:40pm

785
Nat, in post 785 you not only only imply that Belicheck lied, but you made a contradictory statement, which seems to be the thrust of your argument against Glen.

"But is was reasonable, and in no way proof that he was lying(1).

Unless you were lying, too(2)? Were you?"

Point 1 seems to indicate that you believe that BB was not lying, point 2 seems to indicate you are imply that Glen might be lying in addition to another party, and one could only assume the party you were refering to was BB.

815
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:41pm

> The Bucs were one of the best teams in football that year and had one of the best defenses the league has ever seen.

Not to mention that the Patriots were terrible in 2000, especially on offense, where they were 25th of 31 teams in scoring.

So yeah, the final score in that game is proof of nothing, and by the same token trying to prove or even accurately assess the impact of the videotaping practice is intrinsically impossible. We can guess, but likely even the perpetrators don't know for sure the precise edge that was gained, unless they nailed a defensive signal call on a game-deciding play, or something like that.

816
by Burninator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:52pm

Jimmy

Are you making a leap by assuming that the admission that the tapes helped 75% of the time were for that current game? When would they have time to go back and look at tape during the game? half time? you would have to be a freaking whiz to figure out anything in 3 hours so why use tape at all? just use binoculars. Or better yet... use your sidelined backup QB (ta-da!). Zolak admitted today that one responsability he had as back up QB was to watch and try to decode coaching signals when the Pats were on D, real-time. This is why I assume (and maybe you actually do too) the tape was for potential, future, games. Then, as Goodell pointed out, if you are a smart team, you might consider CHANGING YOUR SIGNALS or the pattern, or who gives them (Jets had 3 coaches tossing out D-plays in game 1 of '07). brilliant!
They're only cheating if you're letting them get away with it.

817
by Burninator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 8:56pm

cd6
so you don't think the 2008 accomplishments mean anything? So once they've been punished and under the greatest scrutiny of any team of all time, and still go 16-0 and break several records, the Offense of 08's accomplishments are nil. When is the slate cleared?

818
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:00pm

> Specter said that apparently Goodell knew about this before, presumably when he said that the Pats weren’t able to gain a competitive advantage through their extensive filming activities. I am assuming that the man isn’t just an idiot, so he must have been deliberately misleading the public in the hope that this would all just blow over.

In Goodell's defense, that 75% play call success rate is highly speculative no matter whose (anonymous) assessment it was, not to mention hearsay testimony only one day old. I can see Goodell letting that go.

Frankly, Goodell has already punished the Patriots for such calculated, deliberate rules violations (his words), and has even acknowledged that the Patriots may have gained some advantage from the practice but that it's impossible for him to determine how much of one. As these specific details on the how/when/where inevitably dribble out, what more is Goodell supposed to do about it? He's already dealt with the the core issue which is now reasonably well understood and well documented (at least since early February).

819
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:02pm

Daboll and Martz have responded to Walsh's walkthrough assertions.

820
by cd6! (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:03pm

817

I would say the slate doesn't get cleared until Belichick is gone.

If Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens resigned with any baseball team next week and then had a three homer game or a no hitter, would anybody say "well gosh, surely they're clean now, so I applaud their notable achievement"? No, of course not. Once a cheater, always a cheater. Same will be true of Belichick. A "higher level of scruntiny" doesn't mean anything.

Beyond that, well, let's see how they do at all. Coming off a massively disappointing superbowl loss, and losing their best defensive player to free agency, I suspect they won't go 16-0. Of course, that's why they play the games, as they say.

821
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:13pm

> Are you making a leap by assuming that the admission that the tapes helped 75% of the time were for that current game? When would they have time to go back and look at tape during the game? half time?

You missed half the story, or the important part. The Patriots played the Buccaneers in the preseason that year, three weeks before the regular season game. The signals that the anonymous player memorized in advance were from tapes of that exhibition game. It's completely plausible that the Patriots' system could have worked to some extent, given three weeks to break down the signals, and the relatively short period in between games with the same team.

Sure, teams can take some measures against such illegal, infiltrative practices, but they shouldn't have to-- that's why there are rules. In any case, it's not a good excuse for the practice.

822
by Burninator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:22pm

cd6
okay, so we can ask for the head of the Broncos coach, Shanahan, as well, since he was punished for violating the salary cap rules, TWICE. While we are at it, get rid of the coaches and GM's of the 49ers who were punished for violating the tampering rules by talking to Lance Briggs while he was still under contract with the Bears. It's as if everyone believes thier team is a bunch of Saints (well, Saints fans are i guess *shrug*).

This is old news but here's a clip from an article in USA today around sept 2007. Jimmy (former Dallas/Miami coach) is the "Johnson".

In an interview conducted before the Belichick scandal surfaced, Johnson said he thought pro and college coaches long demonstrated a propensity to steal signals.

In what now seemed prophetic, or very informed, Johnson described one method: having a video camera operator record signals from coaches on the sideline, to later match up with video from the game to provide a key.

"Ninety percent of the coaches in the league are paranoid because they've done something themselves," Johnson said. "They have some kind of skullduggery.

823
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:28pm

> They’re only cheating if you’re letting them get away with it.

What does that even mean? (South Park would be proud, once again.) I thought the saying was, "it's only cheating if you get caught". Oooops!

824
by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 9:45pm

809:
Sorry GlennW, I'm going to do it to you again.

You just said (809) "I have stated from the start that the memo is unclear as to what constitutes permissible videotaping from “other locations accessible to club staff members during the game” (even pertaining to taping of signals)."

In post 754 you said "videotaping for the specific purpose of recording opposing signals is illegal from *any* location. The NFL clarified this in the 2006 memo"

You are completely busted. You are either a liar, or you just can't remember your earlier opinions, and flop around semi-randomly. I don't really care which at this point.

The only problem now is that I may not be able to use you to prove that the league memo confuses smart people. But it clearly causes you to flatly contradict yourself.

Again. And again. And again.

As for your concern about secret videos in the lockerroom, I have the obvious, usual explanation: The memo is badly written. It is unclear. As I have said all along. It fails to clarify exactly what needed clarifying.

Thanks for proving that yet again.

This is getting boring. Every time you write a post, I get more contradictions to prove that the memo confuses you.

814 Smiling Bob: Thanks. That was actually quite funny. "Too" was referring to GlennW's belief that Belichick is a proved liar, of course, not mine. But I was as unclear as a league memo.

I promise not to accuse you of lying because you misunderstood what I meant. In fact, I may even have been unclear. It happens. Obviously.

825
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:20pm

> In post 754 you said “videotaping for the specific purpose of recording opposing signals is illegal from *any* location. The NFL clarified this in the 2006 memo”

That's the league's contention, as supported by Mike Reiss' statement (posted verbatim for you; ignored by you along with everything else). it's also still my contention; I haven't changed my position there. But when I conceded that there could have been some small confusion around the last clause in the rule given the pure *hypothetical* of the Patriots taping from a different location, you applied that concession to what the Patriots were actually doing-- taping from the sidelines. Obfuscation. Sleight of hand. Take a statement on an one issue (where the Patriots might have been excused for taping) and apply it to a different one (where they actually were taping). Kick up enough dust, create enough "confusion", and before you know it Bill Belichick is an unwitting victim of the entire sordid affair. Except the world isn't buying it, and the one person who matters (Roger Goodell) certainly didn't buy it.

> As for your concern about secret videos in the lockerroom, I have the obvious, usual explanation: The memo is badly written.

Sure it is. Read down that simple list of four specifically prohibited locations (well, three specific ones and one more open-ended one) and a well-meaning person like Bill Belichick might indeed reasonably conclude that the league wasn't clear about what it meant about videotaping in the opponents' locker room. Right.

As I type this, the sports commentator on tonight's Boston Fox News is stating that the one thing to come out of the Matt Walsh affair is proof that the Patriots knew what they were doing, knew that it was wrong, and that they didn't just misinterpret the rules. Actually, by my observation this is far and away the prevailing opinion even in New England. There are honest Patriots fans and observers in the region, plenty of them...

826
by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 11:32pm

This statement (linked) from Matt Walsh doesn't appear to support some of the more unbelievable theories being floated in here:

--------

Kremer also asked about Belichick's claim that he misinterpreted NFL rules.

"When I was doing it, I understood what we were doing to be wrong," Walsh said. "We went to great lengths to keep from being caught. Just saying that the rules were misinterpreted isn't enough of an apology or a reasoning for what was done. ... Coach Belichick's explanation for having misinterpreted the rules, to me, that really didn't sound like taking responsibility for what we had done, especially considering the great lengths that we had gone through to hide what we were doing."

827
by Richard (not verified) :: Fri, 05/16/2008 - 4:21am

I only hope that the result of all this is that when people look back on the Patriots "dynasty" they remember them not as a great team, but as a bunch of lousy cheaters.

828
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/16/2008 - 11:55am

827: May you and cd6! be very happy chewing over your bitterness together, the stale bile of your furious vomit providing comfort in the cold years to come.

The rest of us will go back to enjoying ourselves with our families and, a few times a week, watching some football.

829
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/16/2008 - 12:22pm

GlennW:

Sure, teams can take some measures against such illegal, infiltrative practices, but they shouldn’t have to

Actually, the DO have to, even if the video camera had never been invented. From all I've heard from coaching interviews since this came out, it's become pretty clear to me that practically every team at least has a guy with a binoculars and a notebook watching signals and trying to figure out if they can get some edge. Just like almost every baseball player, when he's on 2nd base, will try to see if he can catch the catcher's pitch signals.

Heck, the Raider that got the strip on the infamous "tuck" play admitted to sneaking over to the New England sideline immediately before the fateful "sack", hiding behind the refs, and listening to the play that the New England coaches called, and said that's how he was able to get to Brady on that play.

Part of the game is that the other guys try to figure out what your signals mean, and you take measures to make that harder. That's why teams HAVE coded signals, and don't just call audibles in nice, clean language, and don't diagram their plays in lights before they run them.

The league decided that, for whatever reason, they didn't want to make it easier for everyone to do it by videotaping a coach. Just like the decided, for whatever reason for the longest time, that the offense was allowed a radio but the defense wasn't.

Belichick thought that he could ignore this regulation and use video without punishment. He was wrong. He got punished, and I'm pretty sure he's not going to do it again (at least, he'd be quite the fool if he did).

Jimmy:
I'm still *VERY* skeptical of the 75% of plays number. Nevermind that it is hearsay about speculation--even if it was direct testimony, I would chalk it up to bragging (I once caught a 49" smallmouth bass!) I just don't believe that (1) a team could decipher the signals in the course of one game to use them in that game, (2) that a professionally run NFL team wouldn't change their signals, ESPECIALLY if they played the same team twice in a season, and (3) that a team in the PRESEASON would be calling signals for any plays that they planned on using in the regular season. It's just incredible.

Alex:

Hear hear! I can't wait till football season starts again!

830
by GlennW (not verified) :: Fri, 05/16/2008 - 1:02pm

> Actually, the DO have to, even if the video camera had never been invented.

Sure, obviously teams have to take *some* measures against signal stealing, but they shouldn't have to combat technology, which is the entire point of the videotaping rule. For example, Matt Walsh described the Dolphins utilizing three alternating signal callers, one live and two dummies. No problem, Ernie Adams told him-- just use the wide-angle lens and get them all in the shot, and we'll sort it out later. With technology (and some time and effort behind it) some impressive things can be accomplished. Things that can't be done by a single person with binoculars and a clipboard in real time, yet another dismissive excuse we've commonly heard that just doesn't hold water.

Once again the basic issue goes back to the existence of a rule and the existence of an illegal practice employed to defeat that rule. If either had no purpose or value, it wouldn't exist.

831
by cd6! (not verified) :: Sat, 05/17/2008 - 12:41pm

May you and cd6! be very happy chewing over your bitterness together, the stale bile of your furious vomit providing comfort in the cold years to come.

The rest of us will go back to enjoying ourselves with our families and, a few times a week, watching some football.

:: Alex — 5/16/2008 @ 10:55 am

Now there's a convincing argument. Angry personal attacks.

Keep in mind please that my main response hasn't been "anger" or "bitterness" its been "derision."

Don't blame me because all of the Pats' accomplishments can now be reasonably called into question, blame Belichick.

832
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sat, 05/17/2008 - 12:59pm

A complete, unofficial transcript of BB's CBS interview, courtesy of The Invaluable Mike Reiss (who else, really):

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/reiss_pieces/2008/05/bill...

833
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sun, 05/18/2008 - 3:58am

GlennW,

"Sure, obviously teams have to take *some* measures against signal stealing, but they shouldn’t have to combat technology, which is the entire point of the videotaping rule."

Why do OC's cover their mouths when calling in plays? Why do pitchers and catchers cover their mouths when having a discussion on the mound? Why do defensive coaches constantly change/rotate signals?

You say that a team has to take *some* measure against signal stealing but shouldn't have to combat it with modern technology. Really? Modern technology allows each and every one of us to see the signals that Jorge Posada puts down during every pitch sequence. Don't you think there's a reason why he flashes about 5-10 signals for every pitch?

Modern technology, OR, a guy standing on second base, OR a guy standing on the sidelines focused on the signals being sent in...

The bottom line is these guys are so paranoid (with good reason) that people are watching their every move, they HAVE to go out of their ways to disguise even the simplest of things - such as having a conversation with someone, hence the OC covering his mouth with the play chart.

One more thing - the Patriots were called out for this during Week 1 of 2007. After the Spygate story broke, you better believe that every subsequent team that played the Pats were enforcing the "double secret probation" rules. That is to say - they were extra extra careful regarding the protection of their intelligence during the week(s) leading up to, and during, the actual play of their Patriots game. Norv Turner reportedly buried his playbook somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle.

Despite the heightened Pats' terrorist alert of 2007, the Patriots proceeded to dominate their schedule in a manner reminiscent of past greats. Though they did not win the SB and complete an unprecedented 19-0 season, that year will still be regarded as one of the all-timers, and that was AFTER their "lyin, cheatin ways."

I guess at some point we should acknowledge that players play this game. If 11 men were told EXACTLY what the opposing 11 men were about to do, they'd still need to stop them, they'd still need to win the one-on-one battles.

I think ultimately that's what's been lost in all of this....

834
by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Sun, 05/18/2008 - 9:17am

822"While we are at it, get rid of the coaches and GM’s of the 49ers who were punished for violating the tampering rules by talking to Lance Briggs while he was still under contract with the Bears."

As a 49ers fan, this sounds more than fair.

835
by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 05/18/2008 - 11:02am

Now there’s a convincing argument. Angry personal attacks.
Keep in mind please that my main response hasn’t been “anger” or “bitterness” its been “derision.”
Don’t blame me because all of the Pats’ accomplishments can now be reasonably called into question, blame Belichick.

I wouldn't call it an angry personal attack. I'd call it taunting. As much as you'd like to believe that your own moral outrage is shared by everyone else on the planet, and that that outrage will fuel doubt and resentment against the Patriots for the rest of foreseeable time... Well... it just won't. Most people will move on. They'll stop caring.

And, every now and then, someone like you will jump up, shrieking with aggrievement, because someone has the gall to compliment the Belichick-era Patriots. "Cheaters!" You'll screech, venting your spleen over everyone in the room, while they roll their eyes and wonder when, precisely, Pat Patriot robopunted your cat.

Fight for the truth! Keep that outrage burning! Go, you shining beacon, go!

836
by GlennW (not verified) :: Sun, 05/18/2008 - 1:47pm

> Why do OC’s cover their mouths when calling in plays? Why do pitchers and catchers cover their mouths when having a discussion on the mound? Why do defensive coaches constantly change/rotate signals?

Because they have to even if the opponent is operating completely within the rules. Why do teams use three separate signal callers (as the Dolphins did)? The point is, if the opponent is willing to undertake extraordinary measures to break the rules (with technology, multiple spies, and post facto code-breaking), they can still defeat such protective measures.

Bob Ryan weighs in with yet more "arrogance" in response to Bill Belichick's confusion woth the rules (linked):

---------

"[Belichick] has been exposed as being monumentally disingenuous at best and utterly duplicitous at worst. There can no longer be any doubt that he engaged in a practice he knew was against the rules.

"Whatever his motivation, it wound up manifesting itself in colossal arrogance. For after being warned about continuing his illegal practice in a 2006 game at Green Bay, he did it again in, of all places, Giants Stadium the very first game in 2007. What kind of a statement was that? Was he saying "(naughty word) you" to Eric Mangini, a former ally who was now The Enemy?

"Remember the ultimate moral of Watergate: The cover-up is worse than the crime.

"Now we know that Bill Belichick covered up, and may still be covering up. Matt Walsh says he was told to prepare a cover story for his activities, even as Bill Belichick continues to insist that he had "misinterpreted" the rule in question. He alone of the 32 coaches was confused. Amazing. The commissioner didn't buy it, and neither should anyone else.

"The cover-up is what matters now. Bill Belichick has yet to seek mercy from the National Court of Public Opinion. He has his story, and he's sticking to it. He's going to stonewall it, just as he stonewalls a routine injury inquiry. It's just his nature, apparently."

837
by Daniel (not verified) :: Sun, 05/18/2008 - 9:12pm

GlennW: The best part was the last paragraph "There is no way out. As long as Bill Belichick is the coach of the New England Patriots, America will despise this team. But a resignation or a dismissal would only lend legitimacy to the entire concept of wrongdoing." This incident will follow this team forever. When Tom Brady gets inducted into the Hall of Fame it will be mentioned. Matt Walsh will be relevant again and it will all be rehashed over and over. Belichick has not only ruined his own reputation, but he has sullied those of everyone associated with this team.

838
by cd6! (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 8:31am

Better watch out Daniel. I hear from Dr. Alex that sentiments like that are unhealthy for your spleen.

839
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 10:35am

Oh, god, you have no idea. It gets everywhere.

840
by MCS (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 11:17am

It is truly surprising to me that some people keep bringing up the 2007 Patriots as a great team and an indicator that the cheating prior to 2007 was not that beneficial to the Patriots.

Why were the Patriots so good in 2007?
Personnel

How did they get such a stacked team?
The players wanted to play for a proven winner and structured their contracts accordingly.

How did the Patriots become a proven winner?
Potentially due to cheating in prior years.

You could consider the 2007 Patriots team as a direct result of the cheating that took place in earlier seasons.

Back to lurking. Have a nice day.

841
by MCS (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 11:19am

Poor opening sentence. A better way would be to say that some people keep bringing up the greatness (undeniable) of the 2007 Patriots as an indicator that the teams prior to 2007 didn't benefit from the cheating.

842
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 11:52am

How did they get such a stacked team?
The players wanted to play for a proven winner and structured their contracts accordingly.

I'm going to cry Bullsh*t on this one. This is one of the most persistent myths about the Patriots.

Can you name players who took a discount to play for a proven winner in 2007? Go down the roster. Look at all the FA additions, and see how many big name players (players who were big names at the time of their free agency, not players who got good after joining the Pats) who took smaller deals to play for the Pats than they could have gotten elsewhere.

*Maybe* Randy Moss...but he was traded for, not out-bid-for as a FA. The only "proven winner" aspect with him was that the Pats were one of a number of teams we was willing to be traded to. He played for a discount, but that was because EVERY team that was interested in him was very scared that he was not good anymore, and was asking him to play for a discount. Maybe he could have gotten more money from GB (if they Raiders had liked GB's offer), but in any case, he has stated it was more playing with a good QB than a winner. Related, yes, but not quite the same thing. So you can't really count him.

*Maybe* Adalius Thomas. But by all accounts, the Pats' offer to him was one of the highest on the table. So probably not him either.

*Maybe* Chris Hanson. Yeah, a (bad) punter really made all the difference.

OK, I thought of 1: Donte Stallworth. He could have gotten more elsewhere and probably did play for the Pats because of their winning record. He made all the difference last year. I guess you're right (/sarcasm).

That's it. Other big name FA's, like Rodney Harrison or Mike Vrabel, joined before the team was a "proven winner". The rest of their recent FA's are folks like Jabar Gaffney and Heath Evans and Sammy Morris, who were castoffs by their original team.

Maybe their own home-grown players agree to below-market contract extensions to play for a proven winner? Let's see--what notable pending FA's have the Pats offered below-market extensions to recently...Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Deion Branch, Daniel Graham, Tully Banta-Cain... All left to play elsewhere for more money. Yep, a lot of FA's are willing to take a discount to play for a proven winner.

What about players they did keep: Tom Brady? Nope--was the highest paid QB in the league after getting his extension, and has been in the top 5 or so ever since.

Richard Seymour? Nope--got a near record setting contract when he was extended.

Ty Warren--very well paid by all accounts.

Only two impact players that I can think of took significantly less than market value to stay with the Pats:

Tedy Bruschi. And if you read Never Give Up, you'll know that that has nothing to do with playing for a "winner". He likes the organization and was doing that even before they were a winner.

Troy Brown. Like Bruschi, he was taking discounts to stay with the Pats long before they became winners. And, even more so than Stallworth, Troy Brown had nothing to do with the Pats success last year.

The "take less money to play for a winner" comes into play maybe for one player per season, at most, and affects a lot of teams. It's not like the Patriots assembled the '90's Cowboys line, Joe Montanna and Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor, and Barry Sanders, all willing to play for veteran minimum to get a ring.

843
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 12:38pm

Randy Moss definitely just took a discount in his latest contract in this current offseason. But you're right MJK; this supposed trend is a much overrated or exaggerated factor if it even exists (relative to other teams), typically used to describe how wonderful the person is for being a team player, etc. (as when Tom Brady signed the second-most lucrative contract in NFL history at the time, and only then after tearing up his existing contract which had three dirt-cheap years remaining on it-- the sacrifice/tradeoff on the team's part that is never mentioned). The fact is, the free agent bus leaving Foxboro MA has been at least as full as the one headed into town, if not more so.

844
by CoachDave (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 8:20pm

"The rest of us will go back to enjoying ourselves with our families and, a few times a week, watching some football."

Alex, Alex, Alex.

Everyone knows that when you play the "hating the Pats is anti-family" card, you HAVE TO close with a "support the soldiers" closer.

I think it's time for Pats Sycophantic Refresher Training for you young man.

845
by max (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 10:54am

#813
"""For the rest of time, when a Pats fan says “OMG PATS DYNASTY / TOM BRADY IS AWESOME / BELICHICK IS A GENIUS” 95% of the time, a fan of every other team will say “Nope, sorry, they’re cheaters.”"""

That is the $99,000 question.

I just don't know if time will be kind to the Patriots or not.

I do know that the NFL is all about making memories. That is why we are fans and that is how the league has prospered.

The Pats will be remembered. I just don't know how at this point.

"The Greatest Show on Turf" is a beautiful memory. The 2007 Pats will require a bit of selective amnesia.

846
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 1:11pm

I don't really understand why the spygate thing would diminimish people's memories of the Pats players. Maybe the videotaping makes us doubt Belichick's genius somewhat, but the players still have to play well to excel. Not to speak for others, but I would surprised if anyone but the most rabid haters honestly thinks Tom Brady or Randy Moss or Corey Dillon or Rodney Harrison or Tedy Bruschi would be bad players if there had been no videotaping.

To put the importance of good players versus the value of videotaping in a Football Outsiders context: Imagine that you have the opportunity to hire a ROBO-Matt-Walsh. He videotapes every signal perfectly, and never gets caught. So you can videotape opponents signals every game with impunity and crystal clear clarity. Note this doen't imply that you can decipher them, or that the team won't change up their signals before the next time you play them--just that you always have a perfect videotape of what the signals were. In other words, the best taping possible.

Now, I'll use non-Patriots in this example to remove any bias. If you had to choose, who would you rather have for your franchise:

Lawrence Taylor at DE/OLB or ROBO-Matt-Walsh on the sidelines?

Dan Marino at QB or ROBO-Matt-Walsh on the sidelines?

Jerry Rice at WR or ROBO-Matt-Walsh on the sidelines?

The Early '90's Dallas O-line or ROBO-Matt-Walsh on the sidelines?

Barry Sanders at RB or ROBO-Matt-Walsh on the sidelines?

Obviously, having good players is much more important to winning than getting tape of an opponent's signals. So why shouldn't the Pats dynasty players not be remembered well?

847
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 1:46pm

846 MJK:
"ROBO-Matt-Walsh"

Wow.

I can't wait to read the responses to this one.

848
by cd6! (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 8:24pm

846 Hold on now.

First of all, nobody is saying that Tom Brady or Corey Dillon would be bad players without the benefit of knowing the defense they were about to play against, but an advantage like that certainly can help them play better. You're right, at the end of the day, the players still have to execute, but its far simpler to execute if you know its a weakside blitz and hole-in-zone will be left on your tight end, for example.

And getting to your ridiculous Robo-Matt-Walsh exercise: First, you erred in asking your question. Instead of "Imagine that you have the opportunity to hire a ROBO-Matt-Walsh" you really meant "Imagine you're debating whether or not you want to cheat" because that's really what hiring a Matt Walsh would entail.

Beyond that, the issue is that the options you've presented aren't mutually exclusive, because Matt Walsh isn't a position player. Thus your options are to either:
A) Play with Barry Sanders at RB
or
B) Play with Barry Sanders at RB while also systematically cheating by having ROBO-Matt-Walsh illegally record the oppositions' defensive signals.

And based on historical evidence, most teams choose option A while Belichick and the Patriots went with option B. Then they narrowly won three superbowls. And now they've lost a draft pick, been fined, and have become a punchline. Was it worth it? Well, you tell me.

849
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 10:35am

Oh, Coach... I know reading comprehension is hard for an old jock like you, so I'll try to keep it simple.

First, hating the Pats isn't anti-family, but frothing at the mouth about it is a wee bit obsessive. People who aren't dedicated to exposing the filthy evil of Bill Belichick and the Patriots to the world are just ever so much happier than you are. I know, I know, but they video-taped something! Truly, it's sinister evil beyond comprehension! But if you just learn to let it go, trust me, everyone around you will be happier.

Second, I did end that post with a section about why you hate America and the troops. It's written in a font only readable by True, Red-Blooded Americans! If you can't see it... well, I'll leave the conclusions to you.

Okay, I know conclusions are hard for you, too. You're evil and George Bush hates you. Dick Cheney has been dispatched, shotgun in hand. If you hear someone yell "Pheasant!", you should probably duck.

850
by CoachDave (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 4:09pm

"I know conclusions are hard for you"

Actually they are not.

I pegged you as a pedantic douchebag know-it-all a long time ago.

And in case you are wondering...that's not taunting...that's a personal attack.

851
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 5:59pm

I think BB should be suspended for 1 year, and we can all move this behind us.

852
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:30pm

Aww... And the sense of humor to boot!

853
by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 8:38pm

And now the IR rules. Goodell screwed up by not getting rid of Belichick last year. Now it is going to continue to unravel and more and more garbage is going to come out.

Is there any doubt whatsoever that Belichick was tapping radio transmissions? Remember that the NFL 'investigated' some suspicious electronic equipment and later told us that it was nothing?

Really? The NFL could have put this behind them by banning Belichick and actually punishing the Patriots. Instead they are risking the entire NFL in the hope they can cover this all up.

Sooner or later the truth will out. It's only a question of what it will do to the NFL when it does.

854
by cd6! (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 12:28am

What's that, another accusation of Belichick cheating?
Ross Tucker, a former offensive lineman who played for five teams in a seven-year NFL career, reiterated Thursday that he believes that New England used players on the injured reserve list in practices, which violates league rules.
ESPN link in my name.

Which excuse will it be this time, Pats fans? "Everybody does it" or "the rule is unclear"? We should get on the same page on this one ASAP.

855
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 11:25am

you can keep banging your head against the wall, it's old news. Even before this came out a few weeks ago, I could have told you they do that. Every year they put a couple of 1st and 2nd year guys on the IR. Who cares?
Your team lost to the Patriots last year. They are going to lose to the Patriots again this year. They actually lose to the Patriots a lot. And your team is getting worse. You should really worry about how bad your team is instead of trying to talk trash about a far superior team. Far superior.

856
by Jackie Treehorn (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 12:02pm

Herm, We all know no other teams look for an edge. No other teams break the rules. Only the Patriots.

We heard about the IR thing after Walsh met with Goodell. Tucker wrote his article a week ago, and ESPN presents it as new news last night. Classic ESPN.

One can only wonder what would turn up if every team were investigated. I'm willing to bet there are plenty of teams who would also have plenty of infractions. That's not to say it's right, but let's not pretend it's limited to one team.

857
by BDC (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 1:55pm

Well, it is easy to be superior when ya cheat :)

858
by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 1:56pm

Everyone doesn't cheat. It is clear that most teams do not cheat. As Tucker pointed out when Brown argued the same bullshit, no other team he had been on uses players from IR in practice.

In fact there are people in this world who have ethical and moral guides which compel them not to cheat.

Belichick is a cheating scum douchebag. Those Patriot apologists who support this cheating are also scum douchebags.

I understand your argument: cheating is ok. I just reject it.

We have a society based on law and rules because the alternative is a much worse, poorer, more violent, dangerous place.

859
by cd6 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 2:01pm

Oopsies, my mistake. I clearly forgot about the patented "it's old news" dismissal. Silly me. Belichick's decision to illegally use players on IR in practices is clearly old news, as it was first mentioned in this thread in post #853, commented on in post #854, and then declared "old news" by posts #855 and #856. What was I thinking?

To be far, though, #856 also implied that everybody cheats, so I get half credit.
Your team lost to the Patriots last year. They are going to lose to the Patriots again this year. They actually lose to the Patriots a lot. And your team is getting worse. You should really worry about how bad your team is instead of trying to talk trash about a far superior team. Far superior. :: Herm? — 5/23/2008 @ 10:25 am
Alright, now we're getting somewhere. In a thread about the patriots cheating, when a new accusation of cheating is brought up, lets just ignore it and declare the pats are FAR SUPERIOR and that will be that. Unfortunately, I'm going to go ahead and point out that the steelers have won the superbowl more recently than the Pats, and now the pats can't cheat anymore, so you and I may need to agree to disagree on the respective direction in which each team is headed.

860
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 2:55pm

It's indisputable. Far superior is appropriate. Beating very good teams on the road is my distinguishing line. Which says a lot, because I respect the Steelers, they are consistently a division competitor. But they have to beat the likes of the 2007 Jets or 2007 Ravens on the road to be taken seriously. It's worse than losing to Jacksonville at home (which the Patriots did not do)

Besides, winning the Superbowl is easy...when you play an above average team and you get all the calls. There's an uncalled penalty on every play, yet the refs decide they need to call 3 or 4 of the Seahawks big plays back?

But I digress. What were we talking about? Guys on the IR practicing with the team? I'm thinking that's not a problem Steelers fans should be worried about. If I were a Steelers fan and wanted to dwell on bad decisions from the past, I'd be more worried about making sure I don't go to Bill Cowher's dentist. Talk about a guy who got cheated.

Other bad decisions would be loyalty to Kordell Stewart and letting a fat runningback get up and dance after every 3 yard gain.

861
by cd6 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 3:18pm

Questioning the ability of pro-bowl quarterback Kordell "Slash" Stewart is taking it too far, mister. You're over the line.

862
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 3:29pm

Belichick is a cheating scum douchebag. Those Patriot apologists who support this cheating are also scum douchebags.

I understand your argument: cheating is ok. I just reject it.

You're the one who said Brady should have his legs broken because he was running up the score, right?

863
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:09pm

858 I'm sorry, is your name morganja? Is that some kind of play on the word "Ganja"? As in more marijuana? Because in most places, including the US, exceptions being medical conditions such as glaucoma, and limited to specific locations, taking the pot is illegal. Are you taking the pot? Did you know 80% of all crime in the US is drug related? I really hope you're not taking the pot because "we have a society based on law and rules because the alternative is a much worse, poorer, more violent, dangerous place." Let's forget the malem en se vs. malem prohibidum discussion and say that the world is not a violent place because somebody videotaped handsignals.

AND
861. I apologize. I didn't mean to rain on your Slash party. I didn't think you'd read that far, because I personally thought I crossed a line way before that.

864
by BDC (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:18pm

855:

"Your team lost to the Patriots last year. They are going to lose to the Patriots again this year."

I know this was directed at a specific poster but I just can't help it. What was the final score in the SB this year? I seem to have forgotten.

865
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:36pm

864: Ow. :'( I didn't even say it, and it made my little smiley face cry. Cold, man. So cold.

866
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:48pm

Well, if you're a Giants fan, there's still truth in the statement that the Giants lost to the Patriots last year, it was just the wrong game. But I spent more than enough time in the SB audibles thread accepting that loss and the Giants improbable playoff run was a great story.

More likely though is that the people here root for 31 teams, to whom I will also sadly admit defeat. But if you root for 31 teams, you're bound to win one...and that's all you did...win one. You're 2007-2008 winning percentage is .056 WHEN ROUNDED UP. That makes Patriots haters worse than last years Dolphins (.063). Statistics like that don't lie. Patriots haters are losers.

867
by BDC (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 11:41am

No, it is entirely possible that quite a number people here root for any number of teams that the Pats didn't even play last year and won't play this year.

In any case though, the whole, "oh yea? Well my team is better then your team", just seems a lot more impressive if your team had actually, you know, won the SB, given the fact that there are 30 other teams in the NFL that also didn't win the SB.

868
by bowman (not verified) :: Wed, 05/28/2008 - 3:27pm

Because nobody else has posted this yet, this is a link to profootball-reference's blog relating to this.

Short summary - on the field accomplishments stand, as no competitive advantage. However, no sympathy for supporters who claim that the Patriots won because they honestly out-worked their opponents.

Just Another Dynasty.

869
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/28/2008 - 4:37pm

How about a truce:

Patriots haters shut up about spygate and let us all move on with our lives. No referring to the "Cheatriots" or "Belicheat", and people don't say "Yeah but" (at least, not in reference to spygate) when it's brought up that the Patriots are a dynasty that have won three SB's in a four year period, and come within a hair's breadth three more times in a seven year period. People admit that the Patriots are a legitimately good team. In other words, stop talking about this issue.

In return, we Patriots fans will never talk about "the Patriot way" as if the Pats are somehow blessed and superior to all the other teams for some mystic reason, will never worship the front office as if they know more than anyone else in the league, will admit that finding Tom Brady in the sixth round was a stroke of luck, not genius, will never claim that the Pats have any "magic sauce" that makes their players work harder, or that they have some magical team first mantra that other teams lack, will even refrain from calling Belichick a genius, and will willingly admit that Rodney Harrison is a dirty cheater who takes cheap shots and used HGH (no disrespect intended).

All good?

870
by BDC (not verified) :: Wed, 05/28/2008 - 6:35pm

869: Nah, not good. See, that would have worked 6 or 7 years ago. Several people have mentioned on here how other teams have been caught, the Broncos, the Cowboys, etc. and asked "how come they don't get any shit for it"? Because they didn't give the rest of the league this BS about how they weren't just the best team in the league, but they had some magic way that made them special. Had the Pats fans simply handled success the same way those other teams did, this whole thing would have blown over by now. But no, they had to insist there was something special about them. Only now, when they are called out as the cheats they are, do they want to call a "truce"? I don't think so.

Besides, this is the one thread we have to be completely irrational and I am going to milk it :)

871
by cd6! (not verified) :: Wed, 05/28/2008 - 9:49pm

869:

Shorter MJK: "How about everyone agrees not to mention the pats are cheaters and instead agrees they're just awesome?" Sorry, you're dreaming.

Hell, half the stuff in your second paragraph isn't even debatable. Rodney Harrison is a dirty player. Finding Brady in the sixth round was a stroke of luck. The patriots did have a "magic sauce" - though it is more commonly known as "HGH."

If you don't like people calling the patriots "cheaters" don't blame everyone else, blame the coach who decided to cheat and, furthermore, is still the coach.

872
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 9:08am

re 855:

5 rings, no cheating.

873
by RickD (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 1:33pm

re: 870
That was all media-created nonsense in the aftermath of 9/11.

874
by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 2:15pm

872
Alex: Oh Sorry, steelberger1, your time was up, that post was from a week ago. Herm?, the board goes back to you

Herm?: OK, let's stay in Steelberger's category, I'll take "Things People Gave a Shit About When Gerald Ford Was President" for $500, Alex
...wait, can I change that? Let's go to something more serious and recent...I'll take "Teams Whose Physicians Purchased $150,000 worth of HGH ($750,000 retail) on their personal credit card."

Alex: Ooh, a Daily Double!
PED's were a problem in the 70's, too. Click the link if you ever want to know about how the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70's, as admitted by their own, were the epicenter of steroid use in that era.

Herm? (to Steelberger, while picking up a phony halo) : I think you dropped something.

875
by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 8:05pm

874:

It should be pointed out that steroids were not illegal either by NFL or US law in the 70s.

876
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 7:34am

Sorry Rocco, you obviously havent noticed that Herm has no interest in facts.

He obviously does have interest in lame Jeopardy parodies though.

877
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 7:40am

Oh, and as for the "when Gerald Ford was president" part...I will point out once again that the Steelers have indeed won a Superbowl more recently than the Patriots.

And I will also once again point out that they were not convicted of nor punished for blatant cheating in the process.

878
by BDC (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 10:06am

873: That is why it persists among their fan base to this very day? That is why we see people spew that nonsense right here on this very forum on a semi regular basis? Geez, Pats fans really DO have an excuse for everything.

879
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 10:31am

Whether or not it was illegal, the foundation of the Steelers organizational success in the 70's was use of steroids. It was admitted by their own players.
And yes, the Steelers team physician DID spend $150,000 on HGH. Did this doctor buy it for his model geriatric Pittsburgh citizens who just want to be able to vaccuum under the couch? Did Dr. Steeler not only want to prescribe HGH for these nice old ladies, but pay for it, too?
Performance Enhancing Drugs are PROBABLY the single worst problem in professional sports today, and the Steelers are the poster NFL team for them.

I wrote "probably" because it might be second to gambling and game fixing. While there has been no conviction over the Steelers/Seahawks Superbowl, I'm sure you saw the game. There's a Seahawks fan or two who'd agree there's a reasonable argument for an investigation of corruption.

But that's where outrage usually stops and acceptance sets in. We usually don't travel down these roads because we take the entertainment at face value and hope there's no rule-bending behind the scenes. But it's there. The only reason Senators and swarms of internet posting people aren't raining on your team is because no one cares about them. They don't win enough games, there is not too much overall sports success in that general area, and the excessive east coast media coverage (understatement of the day) does not include Pittsburgh.
And just because your team isn't constantly criticized, you can't believe that the ownership, management, and 53 man roster you root for is chock full of people whose flatulence smells of fresh cinnamon rolls. There's a bad element that includes illegal activity in that organization, too, and while you can't deny it, you choose to see only the good things...Which I would agree with under a stipulation that we shouldn't deny our own team's faults but then choose to criticize opponents for things other than their on-field performance.

880
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 11:43am

First, if something isnt banned by the league, or illegal in the country, then the using of it cannot possible be cheating. Of course, we will just ignore that.

Second, you say the 70's Steelers success was due to steroids. I assume you base this on the statements of Steve Courson. What you conveniently seem to ignore is that he also said the the Steelers use of steroids was "on par" with the rest of the league. But I guess that doesnt mesh with your version of history, so lets ignore that too.

Third, sure the physician bought HGH. Now tell me exactly where the evidence is that shows that the Steelers players were using it. Oh, there is none? He could have just as easily been selling it himself to make money? I guess we will ignore that as well.

So, to sum up: If you pick and choose the information you wish to present, and ignore the facts of the matter, then

You can assume and spout off your opinions all you want, but the facts are that the Patriots were caught cheating (taping, practicing IR players, players using a banned performance enhancing substance).

I have yet to find one instance in your idiotic rants where you show me where the Steelers were ever caught doing any of those things.

You can say "everyone does it" all you want. It seems to help Pats fans sleep at night. I think the majority of us dont agree.

As for the Steelers - Seahawks superbowl. It has been beaten to death. If you think a couple of calls (which were determined to be 100% correct by the league) were the deciding factor in that game, then maybe you should stop watching football.

So, again.

5 rings, no cheating.

881
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 2:38pm

While I normally dislike trying to dig in and maliciously trash another person's team, you make it difficult to resist, and with the Steelers it's easy to do.

You can believe what you want and ignore all the facts. Your new favorite word, ignore, is the root of the word you personify : ignorant. I've seen you post here and I know you're usually better than that.

You can't possibly believe that the Steelers are completely comprised of special people who don't do anything wrong.

-Ex Team Physician Rydze's HGH problem is only the latest mark on that organization.

-You must know the big story about the disparity of punishment between Cedrick Wilson beating up a woman (cut) and James Harrison beating up a woman (hero).

-What about the arrests of Santonio Holmes, and less recently Najeh Davenport, and historically Terry Long or Eric Green?...do any of these names ring a bell?

-What about the ticket bilking scam with Stephan Swintosky and his connections in the Steelers front office?

-How can your "every one was doing it" steroids defense be acceptable? That would be a case of "picking and choosing".

I'm OK with you choosing to ignore the bad things your team does. Just understand that they are there. And I understand you get emotional about your team, so I'll leave your "idiotic rant" personal attack aside.

The truth here is that your team has an outstanding history of winning, along with a spotted history of immoral and illegal activity. Just because you choose to ignore the bad element doesn't mean it isn't there. I'm sure it's fun to spout off about 5 rings and no cheating, but you know that couldn't be farther from the truth.
I can only accept your argument if you alter it as follows: 5 rings and NOT CAUGHT cheating.

Woman Beaters? Check!
Performance Enhancing Drugs? Check!
Great! As long as long as they weren't caught videotaping handsignals, they must be the Chosen Team. Let's publicly use videotaped handsignals as a loser's excuse. Paging Mr. Porter...
And light up the Specter Signal! There's outrage in The Burgh!

882
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Sat, 05/31/2008 - 11:42am

First, I didnt use the everybody did it defense. I simply pointed out that you ignored (surprise) the rest of what Courson said. I dont care if everyone used it or not, it wasnt against the rules. Move on.

I dont suppose you actually know what Holmes was arrested for? He stepped off the sidewalk to avoid a crowd and was arrested for obstructing traffic, for which he paid a fine. He was never convicted of anything else. Yes, he sure is a bad egg.

While I dont condone what Harrison did, what Wilson did was much worse. That is why he was cut.

Furthermore, while these legal problems are deplorable, they are not cheating and have nothing to do with this debate.

However, if you want to bring them up, lets not forget about Kevin Faulk (marijuana possession) and Willie Andrews (possission with intent to distribute).

How about Randy Moss (arrests ranging from felony assault to domestic assault, booted from Florida state for drugs).

How about Jabar Gaffney (grand theft, weapon possession).

How about Mike Vrabel (assault, disorderly conduct).

How about LeKevin Smith (assault on a traffic cop who ticketed his car).

How about Willie Andrews (jail time for weapon possession).

How about Kyle Eckel (assault, broke a womans arm).

The list goes on, but at the end of the day, none of that amounts to cheating in the NFL.

Do you know what does? Illegal taping, using a BANNED performance enhancing substance (HGH), and practicing IR players.

5 rings, no cheating.

883
by Herm? (not verified) :: Sun, 06/01/2008 - 10:42am

You can write "5 rings no cheating" all you want, it's not true. The more you write it, the more you embarrass yourself. There's absolutely nothing you can write that will make it true, no matter how many times you write it. And you're missing the entire point.
I never asked you to explain or justify the actions of any of the Steelers; just acknowledge that there are players on the Steelers who do illegal things.
The step here was to acknowledge that there are people on NFL teams that do bad things.
Since you know and admit that there are some Steelers that have done some pretty horrible things, you can't possibly believe, that in a logical progression of offenses, that even though a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers would take a gun and put it in his own son's mouth, there is not one member of the Pittsburgh Steelers who would do something beyond the rules of the game to gain a slight advantage; through hundreds of players, not one little needle?

I understand sports can be an attempt to escape or be free from reality for a little while. It's OK you have an emotional tie to your team and WOULD LIKE to believe that their entire roster and management throughout their history are somehow magically different from all other teams and don't violate any rules, but it just ain't true. The element is in there. It's pathetic to believe otherwise.

884
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Sun, 06/01/2008 - 11:00am

"You can write “5 rings no cheating” all you want, it’s not true."

You keep saying this, but you have yet to prove it.

5 rings, no cheating.

885
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Sun, 06/01/2008 - 11:05am

Oh, and it's nice that you have an emotional tie to your team, and you can think that everybody else cheats just like they do, but it just aint true. It’s pathetic to believe otherwise.

886
by cd6! (not verified) :: Sun, 06/01/2008 - 2:17pm

Thread topic: Patriots are cheaters

Herm?'s reponse: HEY EVERYBODY LOOK OVER THERE!

Herm?, since you're spending your time flinging vague accusations of HORRIBLE THINGS at the Steelers, can we take it as a sign that you've conceded the point that the Patriots are cheaters, and you're just trying to bring other teams down to your team's despicable level?

887
by BDC (not verified) :: Sun, 06/01/2008 - 4:11pm

I still want to hear what the Steelers did to cheat. I suspect this information won't be provided though.

888
by steelberger (not verified) :: Sun, 06/01/2008 - 6:35pm

Re 887: Havent you been paying attention? They cheating by using a legal non-banned substance. Apparently they invented steroids and were the only team to use them.

They also cheated (in games apparently) by having off the field legal problems.

Then, as if that wasnt enough, they had the gall to scalp tickets (which apparently also affected the outcome of games).

Jeez. Try to keep up.

889
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 11:24am

> "Woman Beaters? Check!"

Ted Johnson, check.

> "Performance Enhancing Drugs? Check!"

Rodney Harrison, double check.

> "Performance Enhancing Drugs are PROBABLY the single worst problem in professional sports today, and the Steelers are the poster NFL team for them.
I wrote “probably” because it might be second to gambling and game fixing. While there has been no conviction over the Steelers/Seahawks Superbowl, I’m sure you saw the game. There’s a Seahawks fan or two who’d agree there’s a reasonable argument for an investigation of corruption."

Wow, Herm, with accusations such as these (the Steelers are the NFL's utmost poster child for PED abuse and were also on the beneficial end of a fixed Super Bowl), you're quite clearly delusional. As has been said, whatever it takes to downplay your team's own issues *as identified and accordingly punished by the league*. Of course it's a conspiracy that the league hasn't come down on the evil Steelers.

890
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 12:24pm

I love the rationalization by the Steelers fans on how steroid use in the 70s wasn't cheating because a) everyone was doing it and b) it wasn't a rule on the books. As if there needed to be a rule on the books for players at the time to know that their actions were unethical and immoral. How convienent. Nevermind that they kept their actions secret or that steroids had been banned from other sports, like the Olympics, from the early 70s; there is no way players would have know that thier actions were unethical or immoral, right? What a load of bull. But heck, whatever lets you feel good about youself. Go nuts. As long as it isn't a rule on the books and were never penalized for it then the Steelers have an unblemished record.

Oh but wait! They were.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE5DF103AF933A15756C0A...

Or this one during their superbowl winning season of 1978. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1978_Pittsburgh_Steelers_season#Offseason

I guess you can stop with the 5 rings and no cheating argument. There was a rule and they broke it, but I am sure you will come up with some justification to ease your misplaced moral superiority. Good luck with that.

891
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 12:51pm

> As if there needed to be a rule on the books for players at the time to know that their actions were unethical and immoral.

In a word, yes-- there do need to be rules and laws in place to define unethical behavior, especially in an evolving area as nebulous as performing-enhancing drug use (there are plenty of drugs freely in use in today's NFL which arguably enhance performance, but it's up to the league and society at large to decide which of these drugs are safe and reasonable for normal use). Unfortunately this concept of knowing and following the written rules was lost on (oops, misinterpreted by) Bill Belichick.

892
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 1:06pm

re 890:

I am guessing that you lifted that salary cap nugget from CHFF forums. What you didnt mention was that it was an accounting error that the Steelers organization themselves told the league about.

Those dirty cheaters. I guess they didnt go to the same school of cheating as the Patriots (hide the cheating then lie about it).

The 1978 Steelers were caught wearing shoulder pads at minicamp. OH MY GOD! Well that cements it. They should be stripped of the title.

Is that really the best you can do?

5 rings, no cheating.

893
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 1:41pm

#891 - No, ethics extend beyond what is merely written as law. There is no question that steriods in the 70s were a publically unacceptable method to gain an edge. As I stated they had already been banned in the Olympics and were only taken in secret. If it was ethical they would have been done in the open. They knew what they were doing was wrong. Sorry.

#892 - except of course for those instances of cheating the rules where they were fined. They broke a rule and were penalized for it. Its the definition of cheating. Your rationalization of "The 1978 Steelers were caught wearing shoulder pads at minicamp. OH MY GOD! Well that cements it." is no different then the Patriots fan's cries of video taping having little advantage. The Steelers cheated during their superbowl era and were penalized for it. THAT is a factual statement and I dare you to prove otherwise.

894
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 2:17pm

> As I stated they had already been banned in the Olympics and were only taken in secret. If it was ethical they would have been done in the open. They knew what they were doing was wrong. Sorry.

Anabolic steroids were banned by the IOC only starting in 1976 (after the dirty Steelers had already won two Super Bowls). And as you've already alluded to, players on every team in the NFL (as well as college football) were liberally using steroids until the federal and NFL bans were put in place in the late 1980s-- so exactly who had established and upheld this mythical ethical standard for the NFL? So single out the Steelers... be my guest, but that's completely disingenuous relative to the Patriots' systematic eight-season violation of the written videotaping rule. Again, unfortunately for the Patriots and Belichick, reasonable men such as Roger Goodell are able to make such a distinction where the established rules are concerned.

The shoulder-pad practice violation? The Steelers were cold-busted there. I roughly equate this to the Patriots' IR practice, which I've not made any mention of because it is indeed trivial in comparison to the primary issue of illegal videotaping, which some Patriots fans are desperate to distance themselves from in a cloud of obfuscation and denial. Cheating? Sure, on a minor scale, which is also where the Patriots' practices would now reside had they simply heeded the direct warnings, and had not Belichick arrogantly assumed himself alone above the rules.

895
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 2:44pm

"no different then the Patriots fan’s cries of video taping having little advantage"

Yes. The Steelers players wearing shoulders pads in mini camp one preseason is exactly the same as the Patriots illegally videotaping opposing teams for 8 years. You got me.

The funny part is that Pats fans done even realize how ridiculous they are.

896
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 2:45pm

Anabolic steroids were banned by the IOC only starting in 1976 (after the dirty Steelers had already won two Super Bowls). And as you’ve already alluded to, players on every team in the NFL (as well as college football) were liberally using steroids until the federal and NFL bans were put in place in the late 1980s– so exactly who had established and upheld this mythical ethical standard for the NFL? So single out the Steelers… be my guest, but that’s completely disingenuous relative to the Patriots’ systematic eight-season violation of the written videotaping rule. Again, unfortunately for the Patriots and Belichick, reasonable men such as Roger Goodell are able to make such a distinction where the established rules are concerned.

Yes a reasonable man such as Roger Goodell who also said the following about videotaping signals and its impact on the game:

"The actual effectiveness of taping and taking of signals from opponents - it is something done widely in many sports. I think it probably had limited, if any effect, on the outcome of games."

So you're right that it is completely disengenious to compare the two. One has a clear impact on the game while the other according to the "reasonable" Goodell has little to none. Afterall, this is the reasoning of your dismissal of the shoulder pad and IR rules right? Minor, you called it?

897
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 2:47pm

#895 - Irony is lost on you isn't it?

898
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 2:59pm

#894 - Also, I have the World Health Organization asking for a ban of steriods in sports in 1968 according to steriods.com, and drug testing started in Olympics in 1972. Only the ban on anabolic steroids started in 1976. Trying to act like nobody knew it was cheating during the 70s is just plain rationalization at its finest.

899
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 3:13pm

> “The actual effectiveness of taping and taking of signals from opponents - it is something done widely in many sports. I think it probably had limited, if any effect, on the outcome of games.”

I'm fine with that statement. I'm also good with Goodell's statement that the practice was a "calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules", and was not widespread in NFL football (for the purpose of stealing signals). That's the proper context in which to place the rules violation and the resultant severe punishment. The ultimate impact of the videotaping practice is debatable and speculative at best; I've never disputed that. But with its systematic implementation over eight seasons, it was simply not an oversight or a minor shortterm transgression as some would suggest.

Bringing up the tacitly endorsed steroid era of the entire sport is a red herring. I'm a Red Sox fan and I'm not going to point fingers at the Yankee championship teams because they had more players named in the Mitchell Report; that would be shortsighted, naive and ignorant to say the least. On the contrary, when there are no rules nor enforcement to deal with such a matter it will inevitably permeate the entire sport, which is exactly what happened in both the NFL and MLB.

900
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 3:20pm

#899 - So you are saying that because it was done by everyone and wasn't enforced that it became ethical even though it may (Yankees) or may not (Steelers) been against the rules at a given time?