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


by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:20pm

Was watching NFL Films SB highlights on ESPN2 before the game yesterday. There is a very intriguing scene during SB XXXVII NE-STL.

Just prior to the Ty Law interception return for a TD, three NE defenders are seen and heard going over what appear to be the Rams' offensive signals. Transcript at my site--link under my name.

Maybe they stole them before the game, maybe not. But the point is if the NFL wanted to do an investigation, there is plenty of film available.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:38pm

It took a couple hundred posts, but it finally devolved into irrational.
The definition of tyranny thing is borderline - that's become a deflected debate of a peripheral issue -questioning Specter's motive was the core of that one but some of the last few posts brought it straight into the gutter (yes, and it was non-Pats fans again).

Serious question: Now that it's been proven that the Patriots can be beaten ON the field, does this issue lose its wings?
I really believe it will die down, but we'll still see Easterbrook and King writing about it.
You will probably never know the truth. That's the worst part of it. All that's left is criticizing Goodell and Belichick, and defending Goodell and Belichick. And with no facts, unless you're a glutton for insults, there's no point arguing this issue. Even if this gets in front of Congress, all you will hear is denial.
100 years from now, you will still be left with the core issues undetermined:
What advantage was gained, and did it affect the outcome of any game?

by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:01pm

RE #255: If you don't like the sleazy ads here and you use Firefox you can simply right-click on the ad-image and choose "Block Images from blah-blah.com". You can use the Flashblock Firefox add-in to block all flash ad content (it's very easy to re-enable Flash support in specific cases).

Every ad you block is money out of Aaron's pocket, so hopefully that will give him a little more bottom-line incentive to clean up the site.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:04pm

And here's a clue for you Will Allen--if elected officials who do not kiss the ass of the Fortune 500 and Big Biz in general (which of course includes Big Pro Sports) bother you so much that you analogize THEM as being the fascists around here then try psychoanalysis. Paranoia is a serious debilitation--apparently you think they're going to be out to get you next. But I could be wrong I guess, perhaps you work in Goodell's office for all I know--so this might be a real threat to you. As for me, I will, indeed, continue to "encourage" all politicians to put the actual big powers in this society under the microscope for a change--instead of working for them. And millions of others will be just like me. But don't worry Will, in the end nothing will happen, just like it never does. Just like the Mitchell report re Baseball, whatever is coming with this Goodell thing will likely be another whitewash or wrist slap. And people like you can feel relieved that Big Brother is not coming afer you next. In the meantime, the CRIME that does, indeed, flourish in pro sports--from owner on down to coaches and players--will also continue. Kids will continue to get the message that he who has the gold makes the rules--and that the only thing that is important is getting ahead, just don't make the "mistake" of getting caught if your tactics are outright illegal, or if they stir up controversy to the point of attracting too much attention your way and thereby bringing the heat from the dreaded "power hungry" elements. (who also include, besides the acknowledged to be slimy politicians of both parties, actual fair minded individuals who have been truly saddened to watch this deterioration in our society)
Of course I wish human nature wasn't what it is--but it is. So like I said earlier, do you, and all the rest of you reading all of this, actually think these people are going to regulate themselves ??

by relieved (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:47pm

It would seem our friend Will Allen is a Randbot. The unfortunate fact is although Randbots are gifted with the capability of simultaneously holding mutually logically contradictory beliefs, they are incapable of comprehending, or even listening to alternative perspectives or ideas.

by BXRICK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:02pm

Is it possible that "no advantage was gained" from sideline taping because most teams use tapes of the same exact thing from the stands - which if I understand it is legal.
In other words, the Pats broke the rules by taping from the sidelines, not from taping signals. So, no advantage was gained.
Or, do I have that wrong?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:59pm

No, relieved, I have little regard for Rand. I have utter and complete contempt, however, for the sort of numbskullery required to refer to the taping of a football practice as a "CRIME". This is idiocy on steroids.

RickA, I never analogized Specter's behavior with fascism, so please don't misrepresent my views. Look, I understand you are the kind of nervous nellie who laments the alleged "deterioration" of our society, and then cynically pimps out your concern for "kids" to rationalize the overweening need to have the awesome power of the state involve itself in every corner of life, up to and including sports teams spying on each other. You do this in part because you are extraordinarily ignorant.

Before you start moaning about all this being part of society's "deterioration", would you please endeavor to acquire a clue? Guess what? Athletes and coaches have been attempting to cicumvent rules (OH MY GOD!!! A CRIME!!!!AIIIIIEEEEEE!) in an effort to learn their opponent's strategies, since the beginning of organized ahtletics, and they have been using film to do it since the invention of the technology. Your nonsense about this being part of the deterioration of society is merely the product of your ignorance and the pointless fears which apparently populate your mind.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:13pm

BXRICK (currently 306)
The qualifier that Goodell used all weekend is that you can't tape it electronically.

My loose paraphrase of his interviews this week seemed to show that he understands that signal stealing transcends all sports, and will probably be continually done in all sports...but the NFL rule (likely due to the inability to enforce all signal stealing) is that it can't be recorded and studied.

by Bob Coluccio (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:42pm

three NE defenders are seen and heard going over what appear to be the Rams’ offensive signals.

Uh, Rams' offensive signals? Don't they give the play to the QB through the receiver in his helmet?

by Bob Coluccio (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:56pm

Come to think of it, and I'm sure this has been suggested, but why not relay the defensive call to a designated defensive player through his helmet? Substitutions, yes, but maybe they could give all the MLBs a wired helmet or something.

by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:59pm

I'm not saying this happened, but I think we can all agree that clearly taping the other team with the expressed intent of stealing their signals, such that you know exactly which play is going to be called before the play is even called SHOULD be against the rules, whether or not it is. I mean, it defeats the purpose of the game. Looking at someone else's cards when they go to the bathroom when you are playing a game of poker is considered cheating, because there is a REASON for hiding the cards in the first place.

Now with that assumed truth out of the way, the argument becomes quite simple. If the patriots taped the practice of their opponents when they were not supposed to, and the general consensus of former patriots employees is that it was for the purpose of stealing signals, then the patriots should receive an extremely harsh penalty.

Lets look at an example here... If a texas hold em poker player had a player in the crowd who was standing directly behind the camera that shows the other player's cards, and he was flashing and signaling one of the players during the game, he would be banned. Maybe he wasnt cheating, maybe he was just signing him "good luck" or they were just having a conversation, but it is just too shady, you just cant allow for things like that to happen and go unpunished just because you arent 100% sure. A team cant go and win the superbowl 3 times, and you just sit on the sideline and dont even bother to investigate into the allegations because "The Patriots told us that they didnt do anything else wrong". Oh they said they didnt? Well that clears things up.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:51pm

Mr. Will--
As a football analyst you're pretty astute--as a quasi civil libertarian your're nothing but a jackass. You're also perfectly designed for this thread where it's encouraged to cut loose with attacks etc. You obviously enjoy name calling and such. Perhaps you should've played football (or more of it if you actually did play, although I doubt you did) in your lifetime--it's a great sport for venting all that hostility that people like you have. Congress looking into what's going on in pro sports is not the power of the state
"involving itself in every corner of life". And like I said, don't worry--it will come to nothing anyway, just like the Mitchell report. And by the way, my concern for the impact on kids of society doing nothing about all of this is fully sincere. Also: though the cheating impulse has always been, and always will be in the individual human beings who are involved in the business of pro sports--that does not mean it should ever have gone unchecked. In fact it did not--you may be aware that the Chicago Black Sox were truly punished in the early part of the 20th century, not wristslapped, by the newly formed Commissioner's office.(Formed and manned by Judge Landis under pressure and threat from Congress) While individual players colluding in a probable game fixing conspiracy were not guilty under the provisions of the yet to be written R.I.C.O. statutes they were, nonetheless, given lifetime expulsion from the industry. There have been numerous other time periods when the power of the state came into play regarding professional sports. (see Curt Flood, see Messersmith/McNally etc) Today, if a Pro Football team engages, as an organization, in a conspiracy to obtain information that can give them much more power to win than they would have through fair means--do the lawmaking and law enforcing bodies not have the imperative to look into this on behalf of society as a whole ?? You seem to want to equate the NFL as just another weekend activity, like fishing etc. This one and only Pro Football League is granted anti-trust exemption by the U.S. Congress and that fact further insists that looking into this by that body is their imperative. Yesterday's game received the second biggest TV audience in history--do you still want to trivialize the importance of this in American life ?? You call it "just an effin football game"--that effin football League, rightly, or sanely, or not, has assumed a massive importance in the life of this country. Nothing of that magnitude should be given a carte-blanche to do whatever they want when they want and answer to no one. Fortunately, this is a democracy and people with the loudest voice do not carry the day. Though, as I've predicted, nothing will come of this Specter thing, at least it will serve to put the NFL and pro sports in general on notice that maybe they'd better start taking some of this alot more seriously than they have. Now I'm sure you'll appear on this thread again because you seem to be the type that has to have the last word. Knock yourself out--and then try to get a life, it's alot healthier for you. I won't be viewing your last word because I'm moving on with my own life.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:51pm

"Of course I wish human nature wasn’t what it is–but it is. So like I said earlier, do you, and all the rest of you reading all of this, actually think these people are going to regulate themselves ??"

Rick this raises just one question:

Who will regulate the regulators?

"The unfortunate fact is although Randbots are gifted with the capability of simultaneously holding mutually logically contradictory beliefs . . ."

305 - I'd be willing to bet you hold mutually contradictory beliefs too - such as the idea that we can't trust anyone to govern himself but at the same time we must trust some to govern the rest of us.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:24pm

Answer : the people as a democratic whole of course.
Do you want to do away with government, period ??
How about doing away with police ?? We should trust in the inherent goodness of the individual ?? Whatever your answer is, I won't see it--I just posted a response to Mr. Will and when it came back your post was there. This is it for me--football season is over. All the best to everyone, including both of you, Will and Kyle.

by Keith (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:42pm

The House of Representatives ABSOLUTELY has a vested interest in the league. The NFL enjoys an EXEMPTION from the anti-trust laws. If you do not want the government in your business, play by the same rules as all other businesses in the USA.

by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:54pm

I just want to say that Rick A. is my official new hero. That is all.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:01am

RickA, you apparently cannot discern the difference between Congress using its power to regulate antitrust, and Congress using it's power to regulate the videotaping of football practices. This is quite astonishing. Finally, let it be noted that describing it as "ignorant", when someone supposes that the videotaping of a football practice is evidence of a society's deterioration, is not "name calling", but rather an accurate description, when it is an undeniable fact that football coaches have been surreptitiously filming each other's practices for decades.

Your "deterioration" is something you made up in the vacuous spaces of your mind which you choose to fill with silly fears, with absolutely zero, zip, nada, relationship to reality. You haven't the slightest idea of what you are writing about, and for some unfathomable reason, you choose to act if the taping of a football practice, in violation of a sports league's rules, an activity which has gone on for decades, since the invention of small film cameras, is some sort of indication of society's supposedly more recent decline.

Are you completely out of your mind? Are you in some sort of psychotic state? Finally let the irony be noted in making a snide remark about the lack of football playing experience someone else has, while being absolutely and completely ignorant about the game. Sheesh, this is the sort of weapons-grade stupidity which should be outlawed by international treaty.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:05am

Yes, Dolfan, you have previously informed us that your inability to find a woman suitable for marriage is indicative of society's decline. Maybe RickA has a extra straightjacket he can lend you.

by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:13am

And Will breaks his mutually agreed upon pact to never speak to me again. Nice one, Will!

Before we agree to another one I just want to say this (and it's apropos for this thread, maybe even a bit too civil for it). Ever since your tete a tete with me, your cachet and popularity around here has taken a nosedive and it's not because of anything I've done, it's due to your own actions and behavior, which have grown increasingly childish. If it was your goal all along to become less popular and well-liked around here then congratulations, you've succeeded.

Now back to ignoring you I go, since you clearly lack the self-control you ignore me even though YOU'RE the one who suggested the mutual ignoring of each other. Have a nice life, jerk.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:05am

Dolfan, your dishonesty aside, when you state you are in agreement with someone I am in a dispute with, you are not ignoring me. As to my popularity, I've never had maintaining it as a goal. Now go get to work finding a wife, assuming society isn't too far gone, ya' ol' lunatic, you!

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:08am

OK, back to earth now, fellas. Don't get me wrong, behavioral psychology, government philosophy, and ethics are very important. But we're talking about videotaping hand signals and a guy whose wardrobe consists of hoodie sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off.

Assuming guilt, I think the punishment should match that of baseball: A guy on 2nd base tries to steal signals, the catcher and pitcher change them up. Then the catcher signals and leads the opponent to believe there will be an offspeed pitch down and away. Then the pitcher puts a fastball in the batter's upper backside.

In football, it'd be worth a 15 yard penalty to send a message.
Or am I way off base, and should we be fining baseball managers $750,000 and a top draft pick?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:31am

Herm, I've been for the league coming down on the Patriots extremely severely, but given how some folks are carryin' on as if this is like the Rosenbergs giving atom bomb secrets to Stalin, I'm starting to favor just telling Belichik that he has to wear a suit on the sidelines next year, so as to drive the Videotaping and the Decline of the West crowd even more crazy. I can hear'em now; "What about the CHILDREN!!!!!!"

by old (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:51am

If I were the coach of a team playing the Patriots I think I would go back to running the plays into the huddle via player substitutions, and use all the hand signals and qb radio helmets as smoke and mirrors to try and confuse Belicheck and his staff. Who knows, it could work. I would also have a lot of plays whose alignments were exactly alike but attacked different parts of the field. Too simple? Maybe. But you would find out pretty quickly if Belicheck had all your play calls.

by old (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:00am

On the governmental involvement:

It is an industry with billions of dollars involved played in multiple states and in some stadiums that were payed for by tax payers. If the NFL is unable to regulate itself the NFL should not be surprised that a grandstanding Senator gets involved. It is kind of comical that the house and senate is considering retro-active immunity for the telephone companies for spying on Americans, while a Senator wants to inject himself into the NFL's mess delightfully termed Spy-gate.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:08am

old, why would you suppose the fact that somebody taped a practice meant that the NFL can't regulate itself? Does the fact that Congressmen engage in actual crimes mean that Congress can't regulate itself? As long as the NFL obeys the law, why should they be further regulated by Congress? If Congress get interested in how pass interference is called, or not called, should they hold hearings? How about five yard penalties?

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:19am

Rick A. (does the "A" stand for Authoritarian, or for the other thing that immediately leaps to mind?):

Thank you for your suggestion that the Federal Government should be responsible for cleaning up the corruption in "Big Biz" - I haven't laughed that hard in quite a while. While you're at it, how about appointing a fox to guard the henhouse? Maybe when you grow up, you'll come to understand that. Until then, you can spend your time listening to Rage Against the Machine, staring at your Che Guevara poster and dreaming of the Revolution.

Oh, one more thing. With a little practice, you too can use your keyboard to make your very own paragraphs, just like the big kids do!

by old (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:21am

Does the fact that Congressmen engage in actual crimes mean that Congress can’t regulate itself?

Short answer, Yes.

Long Answer. Yes Congress can not regulate itself. The people regulate Congress with their votes. The people can also regulate the NFL with their votes in stadium referendums and opting not to buy NFL merchandise, or spending money on the NFL's products.

Allow me to rephrase my comment: The NFL should not be surprised when a grandstanding Senator gets involved due to all the money involved, the fact the games are played in several states, and that tax payers have payed for some of the stadiums. Goodell seemed a little blindsided by Specter, and this new Boston Globe story. You can argue the nation has more important business than the NFL as far as congress goes, and I would agree. But it does not surprise me that a Senator wants to get involved.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:47am

I am amazed at the endurance of the Think of the Children/NFL Conspiracy Theorists. Take the issue itself: stealing signals. This to me shouldn't even warrant a $750 fine, although you know I can not be totally objective considering my hometown.

Instead it's $750,000 and a first rounder. I'm fine with the punishment ; not because of the actual signal stealing but because of the specific defiance of a mandate handed down by the league only weeks prior.
But that's where it ends for me. I wonder what everyone expects to gain from a congressional hearing chock full of denials and a witness with "an axe to grind" as Mike Reiss is reporting.

And lastly, I'm not sure there is much of a need to discuss this anymore, since the "outraged" fans of 31 other teams have seen that the Patriots can be beaten ON the field, and can live vicariously through the Giants...at least until September. So I predict 6 or 7 months of peace and quiet on this front from the outraged populace and their victimized children.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:24pm

Old, if your point was that one should not be surprised to see a Senator, especially one like Specter, act like a completely self-important ass without any sense of appreciation or humility for the power that has been vested in his office, I agree completely. I'll say it again; there is no more useless form of carbon-based matter in the universe than a United States Senator.

Herm, yeah, that is why I favored the league office coming down very hard on Belichik; when I've had employees who I have given clear prohibitions to, and they willfully ignore them, I've usually held a figurative hanging, in order to concentrate everyone's mind a little better. I just have zero patience for that sort of childish defiance. If a person finds such prohibitions too bothersome, well, it's a free country, or at least it should be, so feel free to go do something else for a living. In the grand scheme of things, however, I agree that there are far more serious violations.

by cd6 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:38pm

Patriots break the rules, get caught and punished, and now there's additional evidence the cheating may have been earlier than previously known, including a superbowl.

Those of us saying "omg wtf" though are unreasonable "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" victims? Please.

If a team takes extreme measures to cheat to win the superbowl, the credibility of the league is a sham. Considering the obscene amounts of money that change hands, it's utterly naive to NOT expect Congress to attempt to intervene. Goodell's bumbling response to the first iteration of spygate is certainly evidence the NFL isn't doing enough to regulate itself. Congress isn't corruption free, but in a world without perfect institutions, imperfect instiutions are all we have.

Grandstanding "what's next? the Senate regulating offsides penalties?" is just attempting to use hyperbole in place of actual arguments, and adds nothing to the discussion.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:58pm


You miss the point. At one time (in the not-so-distant past), the suggestion that the Federal Government would investigate the taping of signals/practices would have been considered "hyperbole". Now, it's just a sad reality.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:04pm

So cd6, I'm interpreting your message as you believe that signal stealing changed the outcome of games.

This is where I disagree with most people. I believe signal stealing had little or no affect on the outcome. Again, Goodell looked past this because it barely warrants mentioning.

Off the top of my head, I'd believe that officiating (whether poorly managed or corrupt) and performance enhancing drugs effect the outcome of football games far greater than any videotape ever could, and neither results in the type of punishment we saw.

And you saw the punishment - a fine to the extent of which no other has been levied, and the loss of a first round draft pick...largest ever...do you really believe there needs to be a greater punishment?
Do you believe that Roger Goodell will testify that he destroyed videotapes because he knew they were used and won games?
Do you believe Bill Belichick and his staff will testify in a hearing that he used those videotapes and won games because of them?
And because neither of them will, do you believe that the credibility of a witness who was fired from the organization will provide enough to carry a hearing and cause greater punishment?

Also, there is no actual additional evidence so far, only hearsay.

So far, the only additional truth we know is that Specter was quoted by a newspaper that Goodell's statement "does not ring true"

I interpret that as Specter calling Goodell a liar, with no evidence to back it up. That type of posturing is peculiar. You have to wonder where it comes from - it's more of an attention grabber than an effective argument.

So, from both sides, yes I want 100% truth to come out...but we just won't get any more than we already have.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:04pm

cd6, when someone plainly asserts that one of the rationales for having a Senator behave in this manner is the affect such rules breaking has on our oh so fragile children, then it is perfectly reasonable to mock that sort of insipid thinking.

What adds nothing to the discussion is to be divorced from logic to the degree that one denies that there is little difference between Congress regulating the taping of football practices, and Congress regulating, for instance, the lack of traveling calls on NBA superstars. It is all idiocy, assuming one has notion of the proper role of the state in a civilized society. Once again here's a clue; the proper response to the NFL becoming a sham where millions of dollars are exchanged is for people who don't like shams to go do something else with their time. It is not a proper response, for someone with a clue about the role of the state, to encourage a Senator who uses his awesome powers to coerce over a matter as trivial as the taping of a football practice.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:26pm

I will say this, however; when an entity like the NFL works as hard as they do to get their snouts shoved deep into the public trough, fattening up on public subsidies, they are a far less sympatehitc victim of an abusive government than, say, the private property owners who get their land grabbed by the government via abusive eminent domain, often at the behest of NFL owners. It doesn't make Specter any less of a jackass, however.

by cd6 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:34pm

Before Belichick, widespread illegal use of videotaping wasn't really considered either. The investigations have to keep up with the cheaters, as it were.

I suspect the government getting in early on videotaping is a response to baseball's incredibly inept response to steroids. The steroid era exploded in baseball precisely becuase the league and the union did nothing. It was fairly obvious that Goodell's initial investigation into the Pats' use of cameras was lacking, and if it takes Specter's prodding to get more questions answered, so be it. I'm a fan of the NFL and would prefer to see them not follow the MLB down the path of questioning decades worth of stats, records, etc because nobody enforced teh rules.

"I don't see how it would benefit them" can't conquer the argument of "then why did they do it?"

I honestly don't know what kind of hearings we'll end up getting, though I assume eventually the truth will out. It's clear that the first investigation was lousy. Goodell didn't even talk to Brady (or any Pats players that I'm aware of) and apparently didn't talk to this former Pats employee who supposedly did some videotaping.

If they were justified in doing the first investigation, then they are certainly justified in doing a second investigaiton once its clear the first one was insuficient.

It's clear that this videotaping scandal falls somewhere between the massive steroid problems in baseball and minor rule infractions like traveling in the NBA, pass inteference, etc. I tend to think it's closer to the first than the second.

Once again here’s a clue; the proper response to the NFL becoming a sham where millions of dollars are exchanged is for people who don’t like shams to go do something else with their time.
If my tax dollars are taken to finance an NFL stadium, then I don't have the right to tell the city "sorry I don't like football." Your argument is akin to saying "sorry there's a lot of corruption in government contracts, if you don't like it, don't use the bridge they build."

There are millions and millions of dollars at stake on football teams making the playoffs, superbowl, and championships. Everything from direct ticket sales, to merchandise, to the sales boosts bars and restaurants around the stadium receive. If it's clear the NFL is unable to govern itself, who should enforce the rules?

by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:47pm

Did Goodell incompetently mangle Spygate? I think before one assumes incompetence one has to look at the motivations of the people involved and their actions. Let's assume that Goodell isn't a buffoon for a moment. Let's instead assume he actually chose the best options available to him given the situation and his motivations.

One of his primary motivations is too preserve the profitability, and therefore popularity, of the League. His actions that we know of are of handing down a seemingly harsh penalty for what has been described by some as a minor violation of taping signals, and the ordering of the destruction of the evidence.

That is exactly how a rational person behaving competently would act if he was presented with evidence that proved that the most successful team of the past decade was engaged in widespread cheating that had seriously, or even fatally, destroyed the integrity of the League.

If it got out that the Patriot dominance of the past decade was based almost entirely on cheating, which could very easily involve much more than just filming but other forms of cheating as well, than the League would suffer severe financial repercussions. Without the assumption that the games are actual sporting events, the League would lose a significant number of fans. Not apparently Will Allen who enjoys a good cheatfest, but a significant number, with disastrous effects for the league, at least in the short to medium term.

A rational person faced with this situation and whose motivation is the profitability of the League would do exactly what Goodell has done. He handed out a harsh penalty, but not so harsh that it was obvious that serious league-destroying cheating had been uncovered, destroy the evidence, not ask any questions that might lead to answers, and try to navigate through the crisis as quietly as possible.

As consumers of the NFL who depend upon the integrity of the sporting events for our entertainment, we should be ecstatic that Spectre is investigating what the NFL is wholly incapable of doing on its own. The inability of the owners of a sports league to police itself in cases like this is exactly why Congress set up an independent Commissioner in Baseball when they were confronted with an equally severe cheating problem.

It seems that is exactly what the NFL needs for its own, and our, good.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:01pm

Nobody should enforce the NFL rules but the NFL, cd6, unless the NFL rules, or their manner of enforcement, are in violation of a law that applies to everyone in society. That's the difference between living in a free society and an authoritarian one. Why do you prefer the latter? The proper response to not being able to ignore the NFL, due to subsidies, is to fire the politicians who were so abusive to you as to give the subsidies, not to instruct those politicians to abuse yet more people. The only difference between Specter inserting himself into the NFL rules against taping practices, and inserting himself into the NBA rules against traveling, is a difference you created in your head. In other words, there is none.

Good grief, morganja, would you please stop insulting me by presuming to know what is for my own good? My dad is dead, God rest his soul, and you are a poor replacement.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:16pm


I'm not a fan of the steroid probe either, but at least that concerns something that is against the law. This Spygate probe is really no different than a Federal probe into your buddy's allegation that you were using marked cards at the weekly poker game held in your basement.

Also, I continue to be amazed that anyone really believes that Specter is engaged in any real attempt to "get to the bottom" of anything (except the taxpayers' pockets). This whole exercise is the epitome of transparent election year attention whoring.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:19pm

Wait a second, cd6; it just occurred to me that you think that the NFL has a LEGAL OBLIGATION to enforce it's rules! Oh. My. God. Under that briliant theory, yes, I should have been able to sue the NFL, or petition my Congressman for intervention, when defensive tackle Doug Sutherland was tackled on the way to Roger Staubach, just prior to famous Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson in 1975! Countless baseball fans should have had their Congressmen holding hearings on the reality of superstars getting a favorable strike zone! And like I said, don't even begin to talk about the NBA!

To say this conversation is surreal doesn't do justice to it.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:58pm

You definitely misquote me (you insert a quote that is definitely not from me), but the bottom line in our differences are that I believe the advantage was minimal, and you believe that the advantage was something greater, although I don't know to what extent. And I'm ok with that difference; I'd like to see a definitive answer from the Pats organization, but I'm not holding my breath.

Then Morganja goes on...
Now, I have a hard time believing Goodell needs to be involved greatly in this: he had videotapes of assistant coaches sending hand signals
onto a football field.
Let's understand the scope. It was handsignals, and no one would refute that. (You can't introduce "other forms of cheating", you have no cause to represent that..)

And handsignals is what Goodell swears by. Specter will not refute this for one second (I speculate). So there's no point in keeping tapes of handsignals.
Goodell's greatest error was his lapse in judgement by not knowing that someone in PA would hold hearings over tapes with hand signals.
Where Goodell creates exception (but did not err according to the NFL's interests) is by not launching a major investigation and interviewing Brady, McDaniels or Weiss or Crennel, etc...and then disclosing it. And I'm willing to bet he had 3 or 4 lawyers standing around him drilling that into his head. No possible benefit would come of it. One leak of one correct guess on a playcall, then the door opens up, the questions open on every down of football and you have a very long-term investigation with the expected result of "inconclusive".

Specter has to know this is all inconclusive, which is why I come to the belief that he is shaking his fist for attention, not results.

By the way, the New England Patriots are 100% privately financed, including upgraded infrastructure of local public roads. And the profits they create through licensed retail and intellectual property probably carries a large portion of the NFL. As I mentioned, I'm not holding my breath, I hope no one else is either.

by Sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:03pm

Well, thanks to events totally beyond his control, Goodell must be breathing a bit easier now. The Pats lost, so the spectre of the cheaters being the league champs is gone. Now, if Congress, Scooby and the Gang, the Hardy Boys, et al, all want to tear into things, at least every single article won't note how the bad guys all have Super Bowl rings.

However, destroying the tapes was just incredibly stupid on the NFL's part. It totally set the stage for these wild conspiracy theories. If they'd simply locked them up in a safe, this would ancient history now that the Pats have finally lost.

And what a lame excuse Goodell gave for destroying them: He was afraid they'd leak out? So, he doesn't trust his own employees to keep things of this nature under wraps? If that really is the case, that's probably a bigger problem than teams taping signals.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:12pm

I think it's a mistake to compare this to baseball and steroids. I like the comparison because it denotes unfair competitive advantage, but it doesn't work for me because steroids have a measurably defined advantage.
And I just can't believe videotapes constitute an "equally severe cheating problem"

Also, although there was some waffling by the MLB head office and owners, the core of that issue is from the MLB Player's Union and the inability of MLB executives to crack them.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:54pm

The reason the steroids hearings are a bad analogy is because steroids usage without a prescription in the U.S. is banned for the entire U.S. population, and Congress certainly has the legitimate power to investigate any activity in violation of federal law. I'll avoid for now the debate as to whether Congress has legitimate power to regulate the consumption of steroids, as as opposed to interstate commerce in steroids, which is not exactly the same thing.

by Son of brock landers (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:00pm

wow, i did not expect this thread to get to 300+ comments this quickly. I'm inquisitive by nature, and what a surprise.

the nfl should just come clean with what they know now, the pats should answer all questions, and this should be put to bed quickly. It's like pulling off a band aid. If this bleeds intot he Draft and into the next season, it will only make things worse.

Congress is very lame for probing this and should focus on real problems that the country has.

by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:05pm

Fraud is a crime. Not in your axiomatic version of earth, but on the one in which the rest of us live. You seem to think, despite several thousand years of evidence to the contrary, that people are capable of policing themselves. It is for exactly this reason that people get together and appoint an outside force to police them. In economic terms it greatly reduces transaction costs and allows a market economy to exist.

But like most on this site, I know better than to waste my time arguing with your warped perception of reality. Suffice to say, it is not how the world works and it is for very good reasons.

Really, if someone thinks that cheating in sports should be allowed then there is a philosophical gap that just can't be broached in this format.

by BXRICK (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:06pm

#341: "Well, thanks to events totally beyond his control, Goodell must be breathing a bit easier now. The Pats lost, so the spectre of the cheaters being the league champs is gone."

Why? Since many of us agree that Goodell didn't exactly drill into this deeply enough, and that there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that others have done so, why should we just assume that the Giants haven't also cheated?

Beyond that, the Pats HAVE lost a few games in the last seven years. Which helps support the idea that their cheating isn't obscenely effective.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:28pm

Morganja, if you think someone has defrauded you, hire an attorney and try to recover damages. You'll be laughed out of court, of course, because your notion of what constitutes fraud could entail a lawsuit following every athletic contest. Yet another lunatic notion.

Listen, you've previously informed me about the recesses of your mind, which are inhabited by phantom "unwritten rules" which you nonsensically attempt to impose on other people, upon threat of having them physically injured, so I'll ignore your comments about how the world works, since I believe it is quite possible that you are borderline legally insane.

As to your remarks about how people can't police themselves, so they turn themselves over to be policed by an outside force, that of course begs the question as to who will police the outside force. If you response is that it is to be done via elections, hey, you just told be that people can't police themselves, yet you are now telling me that they can police the people who are supposed to police them!

Here's a hint, Socrates; an argument which asserts that government is best when limited in scope is not an argument in favor of anarchy. Now go file your lawsuit alleging fraud; riches await!!

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:34pm

nice...government organizational origins, economics, and theories of justice sprinkled in
....to a thread about videotaped hand signals.

Although I am curious as to how a Senator would believe himself qualified to serve in a Judicial setting...nevermind.

son of brock landers:
"the nfl should just come clean with what they know now, the pats should answer all questions"
you mean *assuming they haven't already*

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:50pm

Also, Morganja, I forgot to note something. You see, when you write as if someone in this thread has written something which could cause you to believe that it could be reasonably said that they "think that cheating in sports should be allowed", or that somehow the statement "cheating in sports should not be allowed" is the equivalent of "The United States Senate is a body which should police cheating in sports", well, it IS reasonable to conclude that something very odd is occurring among the neurons within your skull.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:55pm

347 - Let's say I go to see the Pats in Boston when my favorite team is playing them. I spend $100 on a ticket to see a sporting event. Based on the rules of the game and the advertising, I can assume I am paying for a fair contest between two teams. If the Patriots are cheating, and ownership/management knows they are cheating, it's fraud.
Fraud - deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

In the case mentioned the Patriots are being deceitful by advertising the game as a fair competition, and then not delivering it. If the WWE represented their 'sport' as a fair competition between two men, the would be defrauding their customers.

If the Pats cheated is a separate question. If they did cheat to win those games, then every fan who paid to watch one of the games they cheated in should be refunded. Will it happen? No. That doesn't mean it shouldn't.

by Sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:18pm

342: I see where you're going, but good luck coming up with any firm definition of how much steroids help you. Have an exact number of how many HRs Bonds would have had without them?

346: "Could" and "provably have" are a LONG ways apart. No one has said a peep about the Giants ever taping anybody, while the Pats were caught doing so and admitted to it. You can't seriously believe Goodell isn't relieved that the biggest cheating scandal in league history isn't going to be forever tied to the first ever 19-0 season.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:26pm

Go ahead and file your lawsuit, John, and see how far it gets. Next, you can file a lawsuit against the Celtics or the NBA, because they have three superstars who get calls, whereas other teams do not. You were not promised a perfectly fair contest.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:30pm

Hell, John, Jessica Simpson advertises that she is a competent singer, but I don't think any refunds are due because of surreptitious lipsynching. You were promised a performance. You got one, but like I said, don't believe me; open up your yellow pages and hire a lawyer.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:51pm

#352 First of all I said nothing about filing a lawsuit. That was the previous commenter. Try to at least do the most basic of fact checking before spewing nonsense. Secondly, yes we are promised and entitled to fair games. The NFL has an anti-trust exception (granted by congress) and plenty of stadiums were built with public money. Sporting events are advertised as fair competitions. You can not advertise something as a fair competition and rig the result.In the simplest terms, those who paid to see a fair contest and were cheated out of seeing a fair contest deserve a refund (assuming said cheating took place) as if they had been told 'We're going to cheat so we're definitely going to win' they would not have attended the game. People don't always get what they deserve, but it doesn't mean they don't in fact deserve it. If it came out that the Pats were drugging the opposite teams water supply do you really feel the Pats are entitled to the money they received from people attending the game? If so your an idiot (though responding to my comment as if I was someone else already proved that).

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:52pm


That makes sense, but it also creates a very slippery slope. For example, how do you deal with performance enhancing drugs? If you saw a game and later found out a major contributor should not have been eligible to play?

While you could argue that the two situations are not equivalent, it is a fair question to wonder whether a major contributor (say, a Merriman) playing in violation of the rules has more or less effect than other kinds of cheating.

With the number of different possibilities fitting into the shades of cheating, it would be difficult to know where the line should be drawn.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:54pm

ummm...actually you could easily figure out Barry Bonds 2001 home run totals without steroids.
He has far too many at bats to sample (16 previous years of 400-550 at-bats per year data)
Without going crazy, he should have had between 33 and 43 HR. He had 73.

Oddly, the name you cited is probably one of the most measurable of any P.E.D. examples you could have requested.
Now back to the topic...

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:54pm

"You seem to think, despite several thousand years of evidence to the contrary, that people are capable of policing themselves. It is for exactly this reason that people get together and appoint an outside force to police them."

If people are inherently corrupt, what makes you think it's a good idea to concentrate so much power in the hands of a small group of "people". Unless, of course, by "outside force", you're implying that elected officials are somehow different from the rest of us. Perhaps you've been reading too much David Icke.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:56pm

#353 - Again, stop being an idiot, I never said anything about a lawsuit. I said it was fraud, and it is.
Your example is also stupid. Jessica Simpson being a competent singer is a matter of opinion. Cheating in a football game is not a matter of opinion, there is a rule book that clearly states what is and is not cheating. Now if Jessica Simpson worked for the National Singer League, which defined a competent Singer as one who has a certain vocal range, and she did not have that vocal range, then yes you would be entitled to a refund.

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:58pm


Secondly, yes we are promised and entitled to fair games. The NFL has an anti-trust exception (granted by congress) and plenty of stadiums were built with public money. Sporting events are advertised as fair competitions. You can not advertise something as a fair competition and rig the result.In the simplest terms, those who paid to see a fair contest and were cheated out of seeing a fair contest deserve a refund (assuming said cheating took place) as if they had been told ‘We’re going to cheat so we’re definitely going to win’ they would not have attended the game.

Let's imagine a court case in which a plaintiff brings forth a suit that makes the argument outlined above. The N.F.L. then counters by saying it never explicitly advertised that it was presenting the type of game described by the plaintiff.

You know and I know that the N.F.L. has (at least) implicitly made that claim, but I don't remember ever seeing that on a ticket or from any other source. Let's say that there is no source that makes it reasonable to claim the N.F.L. explicitly made that commitment to its ticket holders.

How can a jury reasonably find against the N.F.L. without such explicit guarantees? It seems like the plaintiff would have to show that the N.F.L. knowing fostered that expectation and was conscious of its need to uphold the guarantee to the ticket holder.

It just seems very difficult to prove in such a way that a court should find the league civilly liable. At the same time, the N.F.L. would be ruined, ruined if it ever had the audacity to argue this in court. Better to reach a nine figure settlement with the plaintiff than take this to a jury.

OK. Sorry for the length.

by max (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:58pm

Just heard from Jim Thomas from Sporting News who covers the Rams that he's had phone conversations that make him believe the Pats taped the Rams. This guy is extremely reputable. I have no idea what will happen, but I think the league has a mess on its hands.

My guess is that they don't want to interfere with the Giants victory parties and will wait and then lower the boom on Belichick. I think possibly that this whole thing played into Belichick's less than usually extraordinary coaching this week.

by BXRICK (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:59pm

Re 351: I agree there's currently no evidence the Giants cheated. I agree "could" and "probably have" are a long ways apart. I'm not suggesting they did cheat.

I also don't recall hearing anything about the Pats taping the Ram's walkthrough before their first superbowl. That's only taken 6 years (or whatever) to come out.

What I am suggesting is that the way the league handled the whole thing smacks of a bigger cover up - punish the perpetrator against which we have solid and admitted evidence, destroy that evidence, don't look any further than we need to, claim it caused no advantage, keep it small, and hope it all goes away.

It's reasonable to guess that the league doesn't have any evidence against any other team. It's seems reasonable to further guess that they aren't looking real hard, either. It's not something they really want to find.

I don't think the government should get involved.

Betting action should be a decent indicator of the public's perception of fairness. If the public feels that either the contest is unfair, or that there is no contest, they won't bet on it, or will bet in a way that doesn't make sense.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:02pm

#355 - In that case the player made the decision, not the organization (unless the organization provided the drugs). It's not fraud unless you intend to deceive someone for a profit. In the case of players taking steroids without the owners knowledge or consent their is no knowledge of the deception.

This could even apply to SpyGate. If BB cheated without knowledge of the Patriots ownership than they should not be held responsible.

Since refunds are an unlikely course of action, the NFL should appease the cheated fans by taking a pound of flesh from the cheaters. In the case of the original SpyGate this is what happened.

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:03pm


Very interesting.

Regarding the original form of the Spygate, I was one who thought it improbable that the Patriots were able to garner an advantage. I thought the punishment was fair but the competitions on the field unaffected.

This version, however, is a little more problematic, since it's a lot easier to see how New England was able to garner an advantage unavailable to the other team.

At this point, I'm wondering why we aren't hearing more about this on the front pages of the major sports web sites. Even if this ends up being a lot of speculation and conjecture, I think the resolution is worthy of major attention.

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:05pm


I don't think it's uncommon for employers to be held responsible for their employees, who are contracted/employed to act as their agents. If an E-Trade employee took all my money without the knowledge of his superiors, is E-Trade not liable to me?

Maybe that's a bad example, but it's not clear to me where an organization's responsibility ends as it regards their employees.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:06pm

Since no one has answered, I'll ask again: How is the Spygate probe any different than a Federal probe into allegations of cheating in a home poker game?

Please provide a theoretical basis for your answer, rather than some ad hoc justification concerning the amount of money at stake, the number of people who care about the outcome, or the existence of an anti-trust exemption that is in no way predicated on the assumption of competitive and fair games.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:08pm

#359 - Again, I think a lawsuit would be pointless. However, I would argue that the official NFL rulebook and any addendum's to it are what constitutes an NFL football game. Hence you can reasonably expect to be treated to a fair game. That said, the lawsuit probably would involve the franchise as opposed to the league (like I would sue an individual Burger King instead of Burger King itself since they're privately owned).

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:16pm


Again, I think a lawsuit would be pointless.

I see what you're saying here. My next comment might not exactly be on topic.

In some previous comments, you used the term fraud. Fraud, to me, has an automatic (if necessary) legal connotation. I think that's what led some of us to think of the arguments you've made in terms of the law, trials, et al, a mistake that might be ours.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:26pm

#364 - As I understand it, and IANAL, a company is not held responsible for a 'renegade' employee. If my boss asks me to do one thing and I instead do the other I am at fault civilly not the company. If he asks me to lie to our customers and I do, the company is responsible. In your example, the employee actually stole from his company (unless he convinced you to give him a personal check made out in his name) and the company would still be required to give back your money. If you had been ignorant enough to make out a personal check to the guy, the company is not civilly liable and you'd have to pursue the criminal employee.

In a better example if Walmart tell their security guards not to use force on the disabled or elderly and one of them beats a 90 year old paraplegic, Walmart is not responsible. If they just gave him a club and said 'beat anyone who resists' then they are responsible.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:36pm

#366 - I was mostly responding to Will Allens assertion that I had previously suggested a lawsuit. By definition, if the Patriots ownership know about the cheating they were deceiving us to make a profit which is fraud. I think a lawsuit would be morally justified, but a huge waste of time and judicial resources. After all, if you spend $100 on a football ticket you can afford it, and your not really hurt in a meaningful way if the game is not on the up and up.

Will Allen was saying that it was not fraud and that people were not entitled to a fair contest. Both of those opinions are false. We are all entitled to a fair contest when we purchase a ticket to an NFL game. The fact that the NFL has an anti-trust exemption granted by Congress means they have to answer to the public or risk being put out of existence.

The fact that public money is spent on building the stadiums means we have a vested and legitimate interest in what goes on in them.

by Sheriff of Malibu (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:21pm

Everyone, Will has always been a sucker for an internet argument and will not back down. Whether or not you agree with his points, he is certainly good at the skill of arguing and seemingly has copious amounts of time to do it.

If you find yourself feeling angry about the latest set of retorts, try this: Picture Will as the Big Lebowski. It really fits his online persona. Also, when Will gets into it with morganja or dolfan, etc., just picture the limo scene from that movie (linked in my name).

"I just want to understand this, sir. Every time a rug is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate the owner?"

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:24pm

John Doe, don't be such an imbecile to writes as if the word "fraud" does not carry a legal meaning. You have asserted that fraud has occurred, and in case it has escaped you, idiot, that is an assertion that needs to be proven in a court of law to determine whether it is an accurate assertion. Now you are stupidly implying that the word "fair" has a black and white dilineation, or that buying a ticket entails a promise of a perfectly fair contest, when it plainly does not. How many hundreds of examples from sporting events must I point out, where it could be reasonably stated that an "unfair" element existed, from superstar treatment by officials, to groundskeepers screwing around with the playing surface to favor the home team, to messing around with headsets on sidelines (which has been alleged by many teams), to all other manner of nonsense. Do these all involve fraud, and if it would be waste of legal resources to actually probe that assertion, why on earth is it worth the time of a United States Senator? Are you out of your mind? Maybe Arlen Specter should hold hearings on the practices of groundskeepers in major league sports? After all, it isn't FAIR!!!!!!!"

This thread has revealed a nearly child-like view of the world, where there are expectations of perfect fairness, and the view that mommy government makes sure we don't have our feelings hurt by unfairness in the entertainments we enjoy; "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyy, Billy stole Mikey's signals, and is ruining our game! Make him stop!!!!"

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:29pm

Golly, Sheriff, instead of making movie references, why won't you just back down and admit I'm right. Why are you acting like the Big Lebowski?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:42pm

John accroding to your definition, anything which happens in an NFL game in violation of the rulebook and the addendum which isn't treated as those sources require entails unfairness and fraud. Thus, it can be safely said that every game in NFL history has entailed fraud. Brilliant reasoning there, John.

Look, the merits for the NFL's broadcast antitrust exemption and the NFL's subsidies deserve to be evaluated by our legislators on their own merit. They do not give the Congress of the United States license to regulate every aspect of an NFL game. If the NFL shouldn't have their antitrust exemption, it should be stripped, and that has exactly nothing to do with whether the Congress of the United States should regulate the taping of football practices. Tell the truth; you really aren't serious, are you?

by John Doe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 9:24pm

Actually, I created a hypothetical situation (i.e the patriots cheated and ownership know about it) and said it was an example of fraud. If you look at the definition of fraud (trust me I didn't doctor Webster to make my point) you will find it is deceiving someone to make a profit. If you commit fraud and are not caught you still committed fraud. If you commit fraud and no one is bothered enough to waste their time in court, you've still committed fraud. My assertion only has to be proven in court if I wish some sort of compensation (I don't). Also, in the case of my hypothetical I don't need a court to tell me it's fraud. Why? Because I created a hypothetical situation where a team DID commit fraud. In a book, if an author states a character committed murder does a real life court need to back it up?

Since it seems you can't see a difference between your examples of unfairness and mine, I'll spell it out for you. If a ref decides to favor a particular player because he thinks he is cute, the franchise is not deceiving us. The ref is. If, on the other hand, a team pays the ref to be biased, that is deceiving us for a profit (fraud).
I am guessing by your rant that we share a hatred of the Nanny state (I'm a smoker, so I get stuck paying $6 a pack because people are too lazy to police their own childern and expect the gov't to do it). I'm guessing we also share the belief that Congress has something better to be doing right now than worrying about football or baseball. I never said otherwise. How does a perception that NFL games are rigged not effect the exemption and subsidies? Perhaps I, and many other Americans, feel they only deserve those things if they are providing the product expected. Covering up a cheating scandal, directly affects the credibility of the NFL, and the credibility of the NFL directly affects whether or not they should get those privileges.

All I was doing was speaking on the morality of the subject. Morally, anyone who visited a game in which a team (not a player, or a ref, or a coach) knowingly cheated deserves a refund. How can you say that morally that is wrong? Also, heres a hint, stop attributing comments to me that I never made. I never said that a Senator should be wasting our tax dollars investigating sports institutions. Since you share the same opinions as me in some aspects of politics at least, let me be the first to say people like you do not help the cause. More careful reading and more intelligent posting would get your opinions across much better.

Fair is pretty black and white in the football world. Fair means both teams start with a level playing field. If that didn't happen, it is unfair. If it was represented as a fair contest (which all real sports are) then it is fraud on the part of the cheaters. Expecting every unfairness in the world to be rectified is child-like, stating that something is unfair and it would be morally correct if it was corrected is not.

Ultimately you come off as a child. First of all you seem to have trouble with hypothetical situations. Secondly, you like to insult people to get your opinion across. Finally you come off as a 'know-it-all' who feels that he is smarter than everyone else.

If the patriots knowingly cheated (hypothetical) they committed fraud (deceiving us in an attempt to make a profit). If they committed fraud, those who were defrauded should get their money back. Whether those people suing to get that money back is worth the time, effort, and strain on our legal system is irrelevant to the simple fact that they deserve the money that was defrauded from them. If you can find an argument with that, that doesn't involve a few cuss words and random unrelated examples, I will be very surprised.

by Sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 9:55pm

356: Thanks for making my point for me, Herm. I say it's impossible to put an exact number on something and you post an answer proving that... it's impossible to put an exact number on something.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 10:47pm

your post was in response mine, so you may have misunderstood me. The Bonds example proves there is benefit from P.E.D.'s with a statistical analysis. I used a quick range, I'm sure there are brighter statisticians with more time that could narrrow the probability down to a decimal. But you don't need an specific digit to prove that there was a clear benefit from using PED's.

...contrast that with the 0% defined benefit of videotaping hand signals.
That was my point, and I'm done with the off-topic rant.

by Biggest_Pats_Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:48pm

I'm the biggest Pats fan there is and i'm very dissapointed and ashamed the we were cought cheating but we paid for in fines and draft picks!! What good would it do to look things up that have happened in the past, just because they had some idea of what the other teams were going to do in the game it still took great player to win thoes superbowls, and they showed that this season except that they ran out of steam in the superbowl!!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:17am

John, first of all, before you start making recommendations to others about the inadvisibility of the use of insulting language, reflect on the fact that it was you who first addressed me with insults, and not the other way around. Are you so pathetically lacking in self awareness that you find it notable that people respond to you in kind, when you choose to start using personally insulting language towards them? Here's a suggestion, Blackstone: if you would like a civil dialogue, you may wish to refrain from first referring to others as, for example, "idiot". Is this the first time anyone has explained to you the concept of reciprocity in human interaction? Were you raised by farm animals? Sorry, that's an insult to farm animals, since they quite often have mastered the concept of reciprocity. Are you some sort of reptile, and thus have not yet learned that a person who desires a civil dialogue does not refer to another as an "idiot", or employ some other sort of invective? Or are you just kind of stupid?

I suspect the latter explanation may apply, given your concept of fraud, or more accurately, your misapplication of the definition you supplied. Contractually, NFL players receive 53 cents of every dollar of revenue received by the teams, and NFL players certainly participate in the marketing of their competitons.

An NFL player who breaks, say, the rules against holding, while trying to conceal the fact, is affecting the fairness of the competition, is certainly profiting by doing do, and his union has negotiated for a percentage of every dollar paid by the consumer, and has participated in the marketing of the competitions. If the owenrship/management does not know about these attempts at concealed holding (a very doubtful proposition, btw), they may be off the hook, but the player certainly isn't, by your definition, given that he has profitied via deception while participating in the marketing of a "fair" competition. Certainly, it can be reasonably said that every NFL game ever played has entailed fraud, by your definition, especially since techniques for holding while not being caught are actually taught by coaches.

Next, no you are incorrect when you claim that competent singing is merely a matter of opinion. Performers commonly charge money for what is marketed as a live singing performance, and then play their recorded voice, instead of singing, with some frequency. By your deifinition, they all are committing fraud, sometimes in publicly subsidized arenas!

Next, would you please clearly state your opinion whether a U.S. Senator should be involving himself in the taping of football practices? Yes or no, without reference to Senators having a legitimate interest in what goes on in NFL stadiums? No, the fact that an industry receives (usually wrongly, in my view) a subsidy does not give Congress the legitimate power to investigate every practice within that industry. Not unless you actually support an authoritarian state. The correct response to government giving stadium subsidies is to end them, not to assert that Senators have a legitimate interest in ensuring fair competitions in NFL stadiums.

Finally, if you can evolve to the typical understanding of the common seven year old, and thus grasp that the way to have a civil dialogue is to first practice civility, I'd be happy to continue. If you are still on the level of the common lizard, however, don't bother.

by fromanchu (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:25am

Sorry will, but this is just what political discourse has sunk to.
One perspective that i would add is the economic perspective.
It isn't just that congress should not regulate videotaping by NFL teams. It is that congress can not regulate videotaping by NFL teams. As any witness to the government's wars on drigs, poverty or illiteracy will attest, a governmental "war" on amoral practices of NFL teams would likely only lead to more of such behavior. Oh, and of course the wasted resources would continue to multiply over time until the problems arising from the cure dwarfed theorigianl problem.
So independantly of whether or not congress should fix this problem, it can't. To think otherwise is foolish dreaming or economic ignorance.

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:35am

Will, you have indeed reached a new level of offensiveness, but it still isn't making your arguments any more sensical.

Like I said, I'm not going to waste any time or energy trying to argue whether cheating should be allowed, or in Will's world, encouraged in sports.

Nor am I going to comment on the advisability of a lawsuit. What Will cannot seem to grasp, no doubt due to all the drool accumulating on his keyboard from his frothing attacks on those who disagree with cheating, is that if it comes to the point that consumers no longer believe in the integrity of the League, that there will no longer be prime time football and multi-million dollar contracts. There will be some, like Will who will continue to follow the league out of whatever insane glee people get from WWF. But the League will be a tiny shell of what it once was. Integrity is key to the popularity, and therefore profitability of the sport.

Demanding transparency, accountability and responsibility is not unreasonable, and what Will would learn if he took some time off writing the most offensive things he can think of on the web and instead picked up an economics textbook or two, is that these are the essential, I repeat, essential building blocks of a functional free market.

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:37am

Savings and Loan

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:56am

Listen, morganja, you once suggested that the expected response to a team scoring too many touchdowns was violence in violation of the rules, in an atemmpt to injure and shorten careers, so no one needs a lecture regarding offensiveness from a thug like you.

I will be kind enough to give you a lesson in literacy. Apparently, your brain functions in a manner which causes you to be unable to grasp the diffference between the statements, "cheating should be allowed in sports" and "the United States Senate should not take action to prevent cheating in sports". I'm serious; there is quite obviously something wrong with your brain. Work on that, and next I'll explain to you why the United States Senate has no responsibility to make sure there is football on prime time television.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 1:01am

fromanchu, if we were to overtly introduce Hayekian concepts to this thread, some neurons would really fry. I agree, however, that it is quite frightening to read what many of our fellow citizens think is a legitimate exercise of state power.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 1:05am

Will Allen, I called you an idiot for attributing another posters comment about a lawsuit to me. I guess the proper response was 'Pay attention or you will look like an idiot". I said it was fraud, and that morally the people who attended those games deserve restitution. I never claimed it was practical.

Mostly, I try to avoid talking politics in a forum about football. However, since you asked and it's not forbidden in this thread here are a few random thoughts:

I believe in a small federal government, and a larger (but still small) state government. I believe that the drug war is stupid and pointless and has proven so time and time again. I think banks that lend people $700,000 when they only make $20,000 dollars a year do not deserve a government handout. I also believe the people who took out those loans do not deserve a government handout. I believe in the separation of church and state. I believe that if waterboarding a senator would be torture than waterboarding a terrorist is torture. Oh, I do believe that Congress has no business giving the NFL special privileges in the first place. However I believe if they are going to give them special privileges they should at least make sure they produce a credible product.

Finally the crux of the argument. There are clear cut penalties for a holding penalty. Anyone visiting a game understands that the referees will make a best attempt to punish the team of any player who holds. They also understand the referee may miss a call. In the case of a franchise as a whole making a conscious effort to break the rules of competition and tilt the scales before the game even starts... well that's a little different.

Ultimately, when the morally correct situation is impossible or impractical (refunding all attendees, awarding the victory to the opponent, etc) the solution is to punish the offender in a way that benefits everyone. If undeniable evidence that the patriots cheated and gained an advantage over their superbowl opponents is found I think the following would be a fair punishment:

1. The immediate indefinite suspension of BB.

2. If it is found that Robert Kraft knew of the cheating when it was occurring he should be forced to sell the team.

3. Any player that was aware of the cheating should serve a one year suspension.

This is a harsh enough penalty to prevent something like that from ever happening again. The credibility of the sport is everything. If it appears that the league was soft or participated in a cover-up the NFL would be ruined.

by fromanchu (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 1:33am

john doe: That's fine punishment if doled out by the NFL. The NFL will do so if you are correct in your assessment that it would damage them not too.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 1:34am

John, don't be so pathetically dishonest. You didn't scold me for using insulting langauage for no good reason, you scolded me for using insulting language. Seeing the lesson in common human relations still hasn't sunk in, I will repeat it; if you wish to have a civil dialogue, keep a civil tongue yourself. Got it?

You still evade the reality that by your definition, every single NFL game involves fraud, since in every NFL game someone has sought to profit via deceptively violating the rules of fair competiton, while participating in the marketing of what is supposed to be a fair competiton. You now say that the deceptive rule breaking that takes place before the game is somehow different, without explaining why.

I don't deeply care what the NFL does to Bill Belichik, and I don't think the state has the responsibility to ensure that I get quality football entertainment, even if the state wrongly subsidizes the NFL. If Belichik has blatantly cheated, and Goodell bans him, it's really none of my business. As far as stripping Kraft of ownership, that would be a contractual issue between the NFL and what Kraft agreed to when purchasing the team. I'm not privy to the details of that contract, and I don't see much value in commenting about the language of a contract that I am completely ignorant about.

Finally, your contention that Congress should closely regulate to insure the credibility of any product produced by an industry which receives subsidies or prviveleges is entirely flawed. The test is this; are the subsidies or privileges required for the functioning of a civil society? If the answer is "no" then end the subsidies or privileges, not "no, but we'll give them anyways, and then regulate all practices in that industry". In every cliche lies a kernal of truth, and that also applies to "two wrongs don't make a right".

by fromanchu (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 1:37am

will, It is frightening, and the illogic is really tough to grasp in a way.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 2:04am

#386 - I actually did explain the difference between them. Remember the part about:

"Finally the crux of the argument. There are clear cut penalties for a holding penalty. Anyone visiting a game understands that the referees will make a best attempt to punish the team of any player who holds. They also understand the referee may miss a call. In the case of a franchise as a whole making a conscious effort to break the rules of competition and tilt the scales before the game even starts… well that’s a little different." reread that a few times and you'll come to the conclusion that the difference is holding has a defined punishment in the rule book.

I did say I do not agree with subsidies. However, being a realist I recognize that most Americans care more about the intimate details of Britney Spears life than they do about our country or its constitution. So Congress can generally get away with anything they want as long as they name the bill with some variation of the words "protect", "america", "patriot", "children", etc. So, the most likely way of the charade ending is some Senator getting a bug up his ass about this scandal and making a motion to overturn the privileges. Also, the NFL certainly doesn't HAVE to speak with the Congressman. They can tell him to sit on it and rotate. They are worried that if they do that, they will lose their privileges. So it seems to me the NFL is willingly conceding to the authority of Congress to serve it's best interests. Ideal? No. Better than the realistic alternative? I'd say so.

Finally, I'll leave you with this:

essentially it suggests the Patriots may have violated a Federal law by taping the Rams. It was mentioned on profootballtalk.com which is run by an opinionated lawyer who most likely would have mentioned if it was BS. If they violated Federal law (as stupid as laws concerning imaginary property are) then tax dollars are going to be spent investigating it.

by old (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 2:20am

As much as I love to watch football, if the NFL devolves into a WWF type affair, I will never spend another cent on the NFL, and will encourage others not to as well. I will become one of those old guys who talks about how football was much better in the old days.

I know more than a few NFL fans and their consumption is about the same as mine:
1. Go to a game when possible, spend lots of money.
2. Watch favorite team for the entire game whether it is a blow out for or against.
3. Watch whatever game is on that is closest in score. Flip channels around several games trying find which I want to watch.
4. Watch the only game that is on when it is Monday, or Sunday night.

This may all change though due to spy-gate. Granted, I am just one guy, but I would bet there are a few more like me.

Should a grandstanding Senator get involved? No. Does it surprise me? No. It should not have surprised the NFL either. Maybe ESPN should put on one of those mock trials like they did with Pete Rose.

I do think the league should supply a fair contest and an even playing field. The league has a salary cap, and roster rules, and rules to be followed in game, and rules to be followed pre-game, and post-game. Comparing the spy-gate allegations to holding calls is odd to me. Penalties are called during the game and marked off at the time, or not. Spy-gate was a penalty of a different nature and can not be remedied by a ten yard mark off from the spot of the foul. Should salary cap violations be remedied by making violators only allowed to kick off from their own 15 yard line in some ratio to the violation? Should uniform infractions be marked off as penalties during the game? No, those ideas are ridiculous.

What will be the downfall for Belicheck, if one is to come, is if there is proof that he did not come entirely clean with the NFL when he had the chance.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 2:40am

John, you now seem to be saying that a pre-specified penalty is what prevents a deceptive attempt to hold from being an act of fraud. That doesn't gibe with your definition of fraud being an attempt to profit by deception. Are you saying that if Goodell or Tagliabue had specified what the penalty would be for getting caught taping a practice, then no fraud would exist? I fail to see the logic of that position. Would not have the Patriots still profited by deception?

Given the nature of Congress, and their power hungry ways, only the truly suicidal, no matter if they were receiving privileges or subsidies or not, would tell Congress to bug off. That's the problem with tolerating the notion that it's ok for Congress to stick their noses into anything in an industry, as long as that industry is getting some Congressional favors; it gives Congress the notion that meddling in any industry is acceptable, and only the wealthiest have the power to fend off an agressively meddling Congress. The best thing to do is to excoriate politicians who behave like Specter, which has been my entire point in this thread.

Florio seems to be admitting that his assertion of lawbreaking may be an extraordinary stretch. No, the Rams walk-through was not a trade secret, and in any case, it would be up to the Rams to make that assertion before any potential crime would be investigated. You generally can't prosecute a property crime unless the property owner complains to law enforcement.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:08am

Holding is not fraud because it is not deceitful. The person you are holding knows you are holding them, an objective onlooker knows you are holding them. Most of the time holding is a reflex (oh no, i screwed up). Also, even if it was by some stretch of the imagination fraud, the defined penalty in the rule book for holding is 10 yards. It's known by the attendee before they buy the tickets that the game has rules and penalties for violating them.

Now if Bob Kraft authorized the Patriots staff to cheat to gain an advantage so that he could sell more T-shirts/tickets/whatever, it's a deceitful action to gain a profit. Morally and ethically the victim of the fraud deserves restitution. The only difference from me selling someones blind grandmother glass earing as diamond earings, and an NFL franchise systematically cheating to gain profit is the franchise makes more of a profit and more people are affected.

Since the beginning of this nonsense you have been arguing with someone else half the time. I never said I thought a senator should be wasting tax dollars on something so unimportant in such a critical time. I never said that fans should start a class action lawsuit to recover ticket losses. I said, morally and ethically the people deserver restitution. I also said I do not feel sorry for the NFL because they are receiving public money. I'm sure the Senator could be doing something even more frivolous in an effort to make headlines and win votes. All of congress could have been doing something better when they voted on and passed the resolution entitled:

H. Res. 847: Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith

Which basically says 'we like Christmas and Christianity' and nothing else.

So again, my only arguments are it is morally correct for the victim of fraud to receive restitution and the NFL deserves little sympathy for it's troubles as if it wasn't receiving public money it would not be an issue. If they didn't rely on the ridiculous privileges given to them by Congress they would feel less of a need to appease them. Also, Congress would have a harder time justifying the investigation at all.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:21am

As an addendum. The main difference between your outlook and mine is that you blame politicians for our problems. I blame the American people. The Senator is doing something most of the people will consider a 'good thing'. More people care about the NFL than the war in Iraq, Net Neutrality, war crimes, the constitution, heck even Britney Spears. Politicians are going to do what it takes to win votes. (note period) If that requires them to uphold the constitution, they'll do it, but it doesn't. It requires they put on a few dog and pony shows and use keywords that americans like.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:56am

No, John, holding is quite often done in a manner which seeks to avoid detection, thus allowing the holder to profit via deception, which you have asserted constitutes fraud. Coaches teach it, in fact. Thus a player can be participating in the marketing of a game as a fair contest, while also profiting by deceptively seeking an unfair advantage in violation of the rules. That's fraud, by the definition you supplied earlier. I guess, by your later definition, as long as Goodell or Tagliabue specified in advance the penalty for Kraft taping an opponent's walk through, then no fraud would have occurred. Seems like a bizarre way to define fraud.

You stated that the Senate has a legitimate interest in regulating what occurs in NFL stadiums. I disagree. They have a legitimate interest in regulating an extremely narrow scope of behaviors by the NFL, and hardly any of it occurs within the stadiums.

Finally, no, I blame the electorate just as much, but the way to get the electorate to vote for better politicians, or to change the current politician's behavior, is to excoriate, and to mercilessly ridicule, the politicians now in office.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 4:29am

#393 - Yes because ridiculing Bush stopped him from being reelected. The guy butchered the English language so badly that even illegal aliens were offended, and that's the best thing you can say about him. A politician once elected will almost always be reelected if they run. The more it appears they made a bad choice, the stronger they feel the need to justify it. Let's not kid ourselves, duking it out with people who hold similar beliefs on the internet on a football website is not going to save the world.

Finally, holding is a defined penalty that you are aware of before you purchase the ticket. You are aware there are rules, and penalties for them, and that a best effort will be made to enforce them.

The players are no more liable for the decisions made by the franchises than we are for the decisions made by our politicians. By your logic, all of us deserve to be tried for war crimes because we pay taxes. The players are employees of an NFL franchise. They are not responsible for the decisions made by the front office. They have less of a say than we do, at least we can vote.

Finally, a player who knowingly and purposefully and maliciously holds, while attempting to hide it, could be called a fraud.

Answer me one question, yes or no. Let's say your a fan of Team A and you visit Team Bs stadium to see the two teams play. Your team loses and you go home, disappointed. The next day you find out the owner authorized the staff to poison Team As water to ensure victory. The contest you paid $100 to see was a sham. A waste of time and money (not just the ticket either, travel expenses as well). Are you morally and ethically entitled to restitution for the ticket price at the very least?

If a company slaps a honda ornament on a hyundai and sells it to you, do you not deserve restitution?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:36am

I always knew Bush would somehow get introduced here. Now if we can somehow get him blamed and compare him to Hitler on this board, we can finally close the thread.

Interesting hypotheticals. Although it's all based solely on speculation, it's much more interesting than saying "we know everything already, pass me the remote"

But if you're going after restitution, the money's in the TV contracts and advertising.
If you can sue CBS to get the CSI's canceled, and King of Queens retroactively canceled and pulled from syndication, and maybe get rid of those GD robots from Fox, I'd be willing to sell my Patriots loyalty up the river. (Go Falcons?)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:14pm

Well, John, that was my point which you spent hours and hundreds, if not thousands, of words disputing; that by your definition, every NFL game entails fraud. Now that you have admitted that, because, yes, every NFL game includes purposeful, malicious, holding with attempts at concealment, let me note that a definition of fraud which entails every NFL game is not particularly helpful.

To answer your hypotehtical, no, I wouldn't claim a moral right to restitution; I'd claim a right to demand my government imprison people who are engaging in the poisoning of other human beings. When I purchase a ticket to an athletic contest, I expect the two organizations to ruthlessly pursue victory, and I accept that, people being what they are, that some people in those organizations will break the rules in their attempts. When that rule breaking is discovered, I expect sanctions for the rule breaking. I have no expectations of perfection, that every attempt to break the rules will be discovered and punished.

If someone sells me a Hyundai, and tells me it is a Honda, then they have defrauded me, because I have an expectation that people will truthfully tell me what type of car I've contracted for. I'd take them to court, and win in 10 minutes. Even if someone decided they wanted to use the money and time to pursue restitution for the taping of a football practice, they would get laughed out of court, in all likelihood, because, no, you have not contracted for a perfectly fair competition.

Finally, if you think that public ridicule is not a constraint on a politician, you are incorrect. No, it doesn't always work, but people who are in the business of winning popularity contests try to avoid being ridiculed publicly; it's bad for business. The fact that a substantial percentage
of our electorate can't see how utterly absurd it is for a United States Senator to concern himself with the taping of a football practice, or of a football coach, is unfortunate, but that shouldn't silence anybody else. Arlen Specter
is a self-aggrandizing, overweening, egomaniacal jerk who is abusing the powers of his office.

by Jeff B (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 2:12pm

Tom Brady was sacked weeks 1-5 an average of 0.6 times per game and rushed (scrambled) an average of 1 time per game. Brady sacked weeks 6 through superbowl an average of 1.86 times per game and rushed (scrambled) an average of 2.57 times per game. Either the Pats started throwing a lot more late in the season, they didn't, their o-line got tired/hurt, possible, defenses started to play them better or sell out to pass rush, also possible, they got worse at "predicting" when blitzes were comming, also possible.

by S.F.3 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:31pm

#396(and other posts by the same individual, too numerous to mention)
As I view this thread with amazement at the vitriolic nature of your posts it occurs to me that there is a fundamental likelihood that you literally have nothing to do in life. Individuals like you are apparently why this site created this thread. Every time I view this site I see you populating each and every thread seeking to win unwinnable arguments and spew your vitriol along the way apparently pleased with yourself each and every step of the way. What I've seen on this particular thread is you trying to insist that all of your many critics are saying only that they are in favor of a U.S. lawmaker looking into "video taping a practice"-and after reducing their attempts to communicate to that over-simplified premise then you want to ridicule it while heaping and focusing disdain for each of them. Interesting phenomenon. You are not alone in this on this thread obviously. Personally, I think those who voiced opposition to your views are merely saying,and trying to say, they think it is high time something be done by the government, yes even with all of it's potential for abuse, misuse, insincerity of motivation etc., about the way professional sports has so obviously failed to clean and police their own house. The obvious point about that is that the Lords of sports seem to have no intention whatsoever to do so. To the public it's become all the same, i.e. steroid cheating, Patriot cheating, the new stadium extortion game, referee cheating, the attempt to get out of medical help for work related disability, and on and on ad ifinitum. Your circular argument retorts add nothing whatsoever to anything other than your own sense of superiority. Particulary noxious and toxic are your attacks on people voicing concerns regarding the effect on kid's values that this all, without any doubt, creates. Besides the obvious that you have nothing to do but live in internet threads it seems highly unlikely that you have children. If you do you'd best give up your net addiction and start putting your attention there. And, please, please don't tell us that that is what you're doing already by (in your own mind of course) protecting them from the evil government. You must be independently wealthy to be able to daily be on this thread or you must be on disability/some other entitlement brought to you by the supposedly always mal-intentioned government. Hmmmm...

by Captain America (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:54pm

Aaron - FO Staff - aka Patriots apologists - why would spygate be dead and gone? This is the biggest scandal to hit the NFL in many years - and it happened to the most overrated, arrogant and lucky team in the NFL. Spygate isn't going anywhere - expect more revelations and people coming forward.
Here's to Arlen Specter keeping the heat on the NFL - and the Patriots being stripped of their Super Bowl titles. Now that would be justice.
So how about that Super Bowl? I notice a surprising lack of coverage on this website..... no doubt if the Patriots had won there would be much gushing and a borderline-gay lovefest for Tom Brady.
Keep trying Boston!

by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 4:46pm

You clearly did all your research and can back up all of your assertions, right? No?
I'm going to talk down to you in a way so I'm sure you'll understand...by citing an Adam Sandler movie:

"what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

PS I hate comics, but even I know Captain America is dead. Keep Crying, fair weather fan!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 4:47pm

Actually, s.f.3, I've been lucky enough to have some success, so there are a lot of days when I just need to field some phone calls, and have time to post here, which believe or not, doesn't really require much effort at all. Football and law ain't partical physics, and one doesn't need more than average intelligence to become reasonably competent in discussing them, without expending much time and effort, especially if one does not backtrack to correct all typos, which I obviously do not.

One thing I have noted on the internet is that once a person starts commenting on the amount of time that a party they disagree with has spent putting his position forth, it is reasonably certain that such a person has nothing substantive to write. This would include you. If you and others would simply stop spending so much time trying to argue that a U.S. Senator's power is well utilized by looking into the taping of football practices in violation of NFL rules, which all your pointless rhetoric aside, is what your position is, I'd have no desire to respond to such a noxious notion.

Also, the true indicator of noxious rhetoric on the internet is when a poster quite ridiculously starts making overt statements or assumptions regarding another person's personal life, when such a poster is quite obviously in a postion where he can only be entirely and totally ignorant about such matters. For instance, how many children that person has.

At first take this would appear to be such a remarkably stupid practice that it would astonish. However, once one considers that such a person has found it worthwhile to comment on the vitriol in that person's rhetoric, without noting that it has been often other people who have initiated the vitriol, it isn't surprising. It would appear that such a person simply has nothing substantive to put forth, so they instead choose to yammer pointlessly.

However, one should not overlook the sort or cynicism, or pathetic dependency in a parent, entailed in insisting that concern for the transmission of values to children would lead one to believe that the power of the state should be utilized to oversee potential rulesbreaking in professional sport.
Believe it or not, parents do control what images are transmitted into their homes, and do control the settings outside the home that their children spend time in. If people are alarmed about what values are being absorbed by their children, by all means they should heavily regulate those transmitted images and settings. What they should not do, assuming they have a modicum of respect for their fellow citizens, is petition their elected officials, or approve of their elected officials, using state power to coerce their fellow citizens, explicitly or implicitly, to behave in a certain matter, over issues which do not explicity threaten to prevent the functioning of society, such as whether rules are being broken in a sports league whose purpose it is to purely provide entertainment, in a society in which avenues to entertainment are so numerous that they could hardly be counted.

I would suggest, if one is disgusted by the rules breaking in professional sports, than one endeavor to read more books, and watch less professional sports, and have one's children do so as well. The libraries are open, and I, for one, support public funding of those institutions, primarily to ensure that children do have avenues to absorb important ideas. I suggest you make use of them. One of my children just finished his first work of Dostoyevsky's, whom I happen to think is one of the more brilliant transmitters of important values and ideas. I have extremely little concern that this child of mine will be absorbing harmful values by observing the behavior of the management or players of NFL teams.

If you are so lucky as to have children, and are concerned about what values they are absorbing, I would suggest encouraging this sort of activity.

by S.F.3 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 7:41pm

#401 I don't believe a word you say about any of it, your success or that you are allegedly a father. And I'm not going to be sucked into these silly assed word fights with one of your ilk. Smug, superioristic, condescending intellectual bullies will not chew up my precious time beyond these words. I think the day of your politics is over too. (thankfully) I know I was happy, and I dare say so too was a large segment of the population, when Congress grilled Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Bud Selig and the others as if they could be the common criminals they probably were. Now though "video taping a practice" is not crime I will be happy if a signal is sent to the NFL that they are being scrutinized for a change. You seem to want the so-called free market forces to be the agent of scrutiny. Oh but let's see, they're the only game in town courtesy of anti-trust exemptions-so there are no free market forces at work. So then, you admonish, we should steer our kids in a different direction and keep them from watching or being interested in sports. You are indeed out of your mind, aren't you chat room boy ?? Anything but letting the dreaded government from acting in a responsible role for a change instead of operating on behalf of the big money interests first and foremost. People like you are why the professional sports leagues, their owners and players, get away so easily with abusing their priviliged position in this society. It's all going to change, nothing lasts forever. Unlike some of the posts I've read here I think something will come of this view into "spygate". And dinosaurs like you will not prevent the spirit of this from effectuating whatever result Specter does, in fact, get. You can try to intimidate people inside an internet thread but, thankfully, your influence on anything in the real world is zero. And I'm sure in real life your big mouth would be totally silent the moment the recipient of your pseudo intellectual insults would confront you. Like all bullies you're all talk.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 8:22pm

Well, s.f.3., you certainly provided me with my biggest laugh of the day. Look, you obviously can imagine anything you wish about by personal life, but really, not every parent lives in fear that he or she will be unable to transmit the values he or she wishes, or prevent the transmission of unwanted values, to their children, due to the National Football League. Please endeavor to unwad your panties.

For anyone else in search of a smile, if a bittersweet one, think about the sort of intellect who excoriates another, supposedly for "bullying" or "intimidating", with light pulses sent thorugh fiberoptic cable, communicatiing nary a single threat, while that intellect advocates the use of state power to force fellow citizens to submit to Senator's will, all over the alleged taping of a football practice in vilolation of a sport's leagues rules. I guess it should not be surprising that such an intellect implies that his or her avenues for entertainment would suffer terribly, if he or she lost the "only game in town", that of really big and fast men running around in padded knickers with an oblong ball, or that such an intellect implies that a child must be steered away from sports, if the child is not sitting on his or her ass, watching other people play them.

Thanks again for the chuckle.....

by MC2 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:15pm

Will, I have to commend you for your diligence in responding to these trolls. You have a lot more patience for suffering fools than I do. As I stated earlier, that's one reason I usually avoid these political threads.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid S.F.3 is correct about one thing. People with reasonable views about the proper role of the state do seem to be a dying breed.

Incidentally, I think S.F.3 might be a pseudonym for Rick A. Or perhaps they just share a disdain for paragraphs.

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:23pm

Ah. I think we have it figured out. Will thinks he is an advocate of the Austrian School of Economics. It is a stage many pseudo-intellectual wannabes go through before they have any real life experience.

It is axiomatic, so reality for them is entirely explained through supposedly self-evident axioms. Anything that exists outside of those assumptions, for that is what they are, does not, and cannot exist. It is an extremely simple structure to build a self-defined fantasy world around. The problem is when reality inevitably conflicts with their tightly defined axiomatic world. It can, and obviously with Will, can be solved by one, asserting that reality is wrong because it conflicts with their axioms, and two, avoiding reality altogether by spending all your time either is a safely antiseptic academic environment or hanging out on the web composing odes to insanity attacking everyone who refuses to share their sets of assumptions and definitions.

Will can't understand anyone else's argument because to do so would call into question the axioms his version of reality depends on.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 11:17pm

morganja, I've lived on four continents, in multiple countries, in settings of absolute squalor, to much more comfortable environments, among an extreme variety of cultures, religions, and degrees of material well being and political stability. I have relatives by marriage or adoption who were born on all four of those continents. Do you have any notion of how fatuous your writing appears when you presume to know details of someone's life, when there is no way you can be anything but absolutely ignorant?

Now go back to explaining how the expected response, to a team scoring too many touchdowns, is violence in violation of the rules, in an attempt to injure and shorten careers, ya' ol' thug, you! It's an "unwritten rule", right?

by Captain America (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 11:34pm

I found an interesting article on espn.com by Gregg Easterbrook about the timing of the spygate revelations. I won't write a big list here, but I agree with his points. By the way Herm I'm a Broncos fan because I was born and raised in Denver - and Captain America is alive and well in the hearts of those who seek justice! (Plus I couldn't think of a better name).

Also I am somewhat hypocritical I know Mike Shanahan tweaked the salary cap a little bit during the Broncos' super bowl run.

However I firmly believe where there's smoke, there's fire...... and I'd like someone to get to the bottom of exactly how much cheating the Patriots did - obviously there's something to it - it's not in the commish's best interest to even bring up cheating - yet he gives the Patriots the biggest fine in NFL history? Then a week later everything's destroyed? huh? I'd like to know exactly what happened when........

by Captain America (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 11:34pm


by The professor (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 3:25am

Umm after some further research it looks like this article was talked about previously in this thread......

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 8:09am

Ell, this thread has been very educational! What I've learned:

1. The irrational part of the title was very appropriate.
2. Will Allen has got a lot of time on his hands... and you probably shouldn't disagree with him.
3. John Doe hates George Bush.
4. I've come to have a little more respect for Pats fans after viewing what they've gone through. Only a little though!!! ;)

See!!! Thats four things I've learned!!! This thread was great!!! *slams door shut*

by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 1:11pm

Captain America, now I feel bad, I had you pinned for one of those fly-by knuckleheads whose only contribution is thinking it's funny to say things like Belicheat and OMG Pats R teh overrated.

I take it back...although the quote I used is humorous and appropriate for this thread (most of my posts included), I wish to direct it away from you. You can read above and see my angle and where I'd likely refute your points.

I hope the 100% truth comes out and the whole thing is closed. Whether nothing happens or additional major fines and suspensions happen, and I'm hoping for the former, I'm just frustrated that the story is still in limbo and all we have to go by is hearsay and speculation, which is fueling so many differences and causing us to devolve into the irrational.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 4:37pm

Does anyone other than me find it both hilarious and the absolute height of arrogance that Goodell now says he's "willing" to grant Matt Walsh "legal protection" if he comes forward with new information about the Pats videotaping?

Who in the world is Roger Goodell to grant anybody legal protection from anything?

Is Arlen Specter going to honor Roger Goodell's immunity deal with Walsh?

Hey, why should Goodell worry about Specter at all? He can just grant himself legal protection from any investigation Specter may wish to launch! Sorry Senator!

What's worse is that mainstream news organizations are reporting Goodell's bluster without even questioning what exactly gives him the authority to offer anyone legal protection.

Matt Walsh, if you're reading FO, I've got some good news for you. I have also decided to grant you legal protection if you come forward with any new information. So please call me if you know anything. I have just as much authority to offer you prosecutorial immunity as Roger Goodell.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 5:06pm

Mikey, calm down. I believe Goodell was referring to indemnifying Walsh from any civil damages that he may be determined to owe the Patriots for violating a nondisclosure agreement. The NFL is perfectly free to do so, and for all the people here who seem to think this a terribly important scandal, this is something they should welcome.

by Jeff B (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 6:03pm

My guess is that, regardless of what happens, the Patriots will not be enforcing their non-disclosure clause in Walsh's contract. Lest, they'll be getting a phone call from Mr. Goodell.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2008 - 8:00pm

I'm assuming Matt Walsh did sign a nondisclosure and will testify, and is subject to civil penalties but not criminal prosecution.

Assuming the NFL and the Judiciary committee will use his testimony as the only link to the alleged 2001 pregame walkthrough tape, what is the burden of proof in order to assess a punishment on the Patriots?

And, in turn, if Matt Walsh's testimony is the only factor damaging to a new punishment of the Patriots, is Walsh himself solely responsible to repay those damages (via Goodell)?

My point is, if the Patriots are forced to pay an additional million dollars to the league, and Walsh, through violating his nondisclosure, is responsible for the million dollars, and the league is picking up Walsh's tab, wouldn't the league have to pay themselves? What's the point?
Long drawn out bureacratic fist shaking?

by max (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 12:10am

If Walsh produces a tape of the Rams walk-through what's the big deal really? They just destroy it, say they had that already, and the Pats were punished already.

Why isn't that a rational view?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 12:31am

While your post is not irrational, there would be new punishment because the Patriots (and the NFL) represented that the destroyed tapes were in-game hand-signals taken from the sideline.

The tape of the pre-game walkthrough would be inconsistent with New England's original statements. The introduction of new evidence inconsistent with those statements would be subject to a new punishment.

And again, there is still no existing evidence of the pregame walkthrough tape.

by old (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 1:55am

...Assuming the NFL and the Judiciary committee will use his testimony as the only link to the alleged 2001 pregame walkthrough tape, what is the burden of proof in order to assess a punishment on the Patriots?
:: Herm? — 2/7/2008 @ 6:00 pm

Herm?, I took it to mean that if Walsh has the tape, and tells Goodell he was directed to make the tape, then it will mean the Patriots were not entirely honest with Goodell. Who knows but the NFL insiders what the burden of proof will be, though, and the Patriots could split the hair that they did turn over everything in their possession. How could the Patriots turn over a tape in possession of Walsh? Perhaps, though, Goodell asked the Patriots to be honest with him about all taping, and the Patriots left the Rams walk-through taping out. If Walsh taped it, and the Patriots knew he taped it, or instructed him to tape the Rams practice, then that may be enough for Goodell to act.

As to the Judiciary committee, I have no idea what will happen there. A quick search of the senate.gov website did not yield much of anything to me about rules on the chain of evidence, or burden of proof.

by mlc0808 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 4:44pm

1.) None of us know yet what the Patriots did or did not do in 2001.

2.) It is just a game. It is not earth-shaking in it's importance.
3.) #1 does not mean that cheating is not wrong and should not be addressed.
3a.) Addressing it by a U.S. Senator is a bit of overkill, to say the least.

4.) Labelling a thread about an argument that depicts their team in a negative light as 'Irrational' does seem to be a biased action by this sites owners, who are openly Patriots fans. But hey, they own the site -- they call the shots.
5.) #3 was written before reading some of the back-and-forth between Will and morgana. Irrational fits.

5.) That something is not a life-and-death issue doesn't make it 'meaningless'. Sportsmanship matters. Integrity matters. Ethics matter.

6.) Offenses committed by an athlete or a football coach that are insignificant would be criminal if committed by those of us in other professions. They play by 'rules' we live by 'laws'. I have no respect for people who lack integrity because in my chosen professions (military officer, airline pilot) integrity can be a life and death issue. You can feel however you want to about the issue. It's a free country.
7.) Integrity matters whether the stakes are low or high. As a football coach myself I teach that to my players every day -- because hopefully someday they will be involved in something more significant than a football game.

THEREFORE -- It is not unreasonable for us to expect coaches and players to follow the rules -- or to express our disdain for them if they don't.

To me that is what the arguments in this thread really boil down to: People are angry (some people to an irrational degree) at the Patriots for being accused of cheating. Other people, as fans of the Patriots, don't want to accept the negative implications of this accusation for the team they love and engage in a variety of tactics to deflect this disdain.

IF they did it they are cheats.

IF they didn't then they aren't.

I won't lose any sleep either way because I already know how I feel about cheaters whether they are my team or not.

by andrew b. lee (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 7:46pm

i don't get how anyone thought that tmq wasn't joking on the 'good vs evil' article. that's not really his fault. i got it right away and laughed at the absurd things he wrote. it means that there are a lot of people out there - and he's parodying their simplemindedness.

he tends to switch off between rational and irrational analysis without alerting us, which is the point.

i mean, he mixes in 'football gods' and 'how do we know it wasn't alien spaceships jumping into hyperdrive???' into everything he says.

by andrew b. lee (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 7:47pm

and yeah, if all that antitrust stuff is true, then i think the govt has a legal right to intervene, though if i were a govt official i personally wouldn't want to get into it.

but the nfl and goodell's handling of this issue does stink.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/11/2008 - 5:49am


Best post of the thread. Very well done sir.

by Buddy Biancalana (not verified) :: Tue, 02/12/2008 - 7:58pm

About 419:

It is a game — and an industry projected to rake in $30 billion by 2012. So it's false to make it sound like a sandlot wiffle ball game.

Lots of people said Congress getting involved in baseball was "overkill" also. And more and more it's becoming apparent that baseball was refusing to address its own problem.

I believe Goodell is trying to ignore this problem, too.

-- He destroyed the tapes. There's no good reason to do that.
-- He allowed the subject of an investigation dictate what evidence would be turned over.
-- The league did not talk to Matt Walsh.

That is Roger Goodell REFUSING to adequately investigate the Patriots. If the NFL refuses to police itself, who should?

Should the government take a laissez faire attitude to possible corruption in a $30 billion industry?

by mlc0808 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/12/2008 - 8:48pm

Point #3 should read:

'#2 does not mean cheating is not wrong and should not be addressed.'

#423) I have no problem with the government getting involved at the appropriate level.

However, I would like to see our Senators make a better attempt at tackling issues like the war in Iraq, immigration, and climate change before they take time out of their schedules to investigate who is taping whom tackling whom.

Of course I want the NFL to be and be seen as a legitimate enterprise. But there are several federal regulatory agencies under whose purview this might fall other than the U.S. Senate -- and other bigger money industries that are ostensibly far more 'corrupt'.

by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Wed, 02/13/2008 - 10:44pm


by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 2:15am

as all can see, Pates been cheating since 2000. Hmm, let's see, Tuck rule game happen in 2001 playoffs. Pates cheated in that game too with video gameras. Raiders screwed out of Super Bowl by losing game to cheating Pates. Raiders would have beat Rams that year.
Pates are biggest pile of crap in history of NFL

by max (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 9:21am

#426. Raiderjoe,

Maybe the Raider would have beat the Rams that year, or maybe the Steelers would have. What that tells me is that you can't give the Lombardi Trophy to any one team. But what is clear to me is that the Pats don't deserve it.

And judging by what is going on with Specter, Goodell, and Walsh right now, the title of this thread need to change from irrational to something else. But that may not be rational for the Patriot fans running this site.

by KevinWho (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 11:01am

I'm speechless, yet I feel I must post.

I can't top what I said in #22.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 12:40pm

As an Eagles' fan I really feel cheated. Ever since the '04 SuperBowl I've heard grumbling from fellow Eagles' fans and even from some players that it was a little suspicious that the Pats had the perfect protection called for seemingly every single blitz (especially in the second half). The same thought crossed my mind, but I always just chalked it up to the paranoid whining lament of people (myself included) so hungry for a championship that they just couldn't come to grips with the fact that they lost.

After hearing that Belichick has been taping since he got to New England, I no longer feel any shame in thinking Philly was cheated. And I feel much less apologetic for all the awful thoughts and words I've directed at Belichick, Brady, and pretty much every single contributing member of that team.

If the league does not levy much more severe punishment on Belichick or the team they may have just lost a hugely devoted fan.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 2:30pm

Thought I'd check in again to this site after yesterday's "revelations" (come on, did any of you actually think the Patriots had not been doing this and more all along ? and did any of you delude yourselves into thinking Roger Clemens, on the other Congressional front, was anything but a conscience free liar ?) and see what was being said. Hope you all got the biggest revelations of all--i.e. that Goodell is nothing but a stooge for ownership and that, in the Clemens matter, the Repubs went after the trainer while the Dems went after Clemens. (with two notable exceptions--the Repub Souder, is that how you spell his name? who did not follow his party line of trying to protect ownership and "the great" Roger Clemens, to his great credit--and then Lacy Clay, a supposed Democrat who turned in the most disgusting performance of the day--his intro : "which uniform are you going to wear into the Hall of Fame?"--this guy might as well be one of the screaming, so-called
"Conservatives" who want to intone endlessly that the government has no business in matters of business. Now I agree with my Conservative brethren and sisters that it doesn't have any business looking into Professional Sports if it's not going to do anything in the end. I just hope that this time that is not what happens. The Patriot matter should be deeply investigated and then serious consequences, I'm not sure what, should follow. Each and every one of you Raider fans, Steeler fans, Ram fans, Eagles etc have every right in this world to feel as you do and be represented in the Congress or Justice Dept of the United States. So too does every citizen everywhere else in this country. And as for Clemens and Baseball, at least I did notice there were several FBI men, Justice Dept guys and IRS people there yesterday besides the main cast of characters. Hopefully that portends something other than just more TV performances by Congress like it was 3 years ago. Besides the asterisk everybody wants to see on all the records that have been shattered in Baseball, there should be alot more than that done. And a giant asterisk should be put on every Patriot title of the 2000's of course, and then alot more beyond that as well. As far as recent on the field events : let's say Brady did, indeed, know what was coming at him defensively in earlier years--and this SuperBowl he did not. If that was indeed the case isn't it just "amazing" how much he looked like just any average QB when he faced heavy pressure ? What a surprise !!

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 2:37pm

I thought Sen. Specter's interview on the Angelo Cataldi show this morning re: his meeting with Goodell was quite monumental.

He stated among other things that the Patriots:

1) turned over 6 videotapes which were apparently frequently overwritten with new signals from new games being taped
2) copious notes dating back to 2002
3) an admission that taping had been used since the 2000 season

Specific mention was made of taping of the Steelers in 2004 and the obvious ability to use that information in the AFC Championship. Also mentioned was the possibility of taping the Eagles in their preseason meeting and using that during the Super Bowl.

Also mentioned was the system of doing this whereby the film from the first meeting would be studied and signals correlated to play formations, and that then the spotters at subsequent games would use this information to call out possible defensive alignments for the QB to watch out for using the headset system.

Running the whole system, of course, is Belichick's polymath genius of a best-friend, Ernie Adams.

This should be huge news, and goes a long way to explaining the Patriots near perfect record in 2nd and 3rd meetings in a season with teams they previously played and lost to.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 2:54pm

Exactly Andrew...

by RCH (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 3:57pm

Here is a question for the anti-Belichick mob...when it is revealed that other teams are guilty of the same or related activities will you support the same punishment for them as well? And no, I'm not saying that everyone doing it makes it right. I am interested in knowing if the people who are outraged will be equally as outraged at the 4 win teams who are doing the same thing.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 4:04pm

#433 : Of course. (although the 4 win teams likely aren't doing it very well, are they ?) The point is to try and force the cleaning up corruption in all of sports. These people are never going to do it themselves without outside intervention, and that should be needless to say.

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 4:17pm

Re: 429 - Amen, brother, amen.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 6:57pm

#425 et al, I was quiet for the most part until now. I agree with you. They clearly outplayed my team (Colts) durng most of this era mainly on good D, which is not affected by this issue.

But now my years worth of resentment is turning to disgust, and no small share of it goes to Goodell. Maybe he thinks he "saved the NFL" by burying this and his stiff penalty should shut everybody up despite destruction of the evidence. Wrong.

by Buddy Biancalana (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 7:32pm

Re 433:

I've been hearing this "everyone cheats" thing over and over, but I never see any proof and I never see any other penalties (I have seen false accusations leveled by the Patriots against the Colts, i.e. "audiogate")

Did it ever occur to you that perhaps not everybody is breaking the rules?

by PD (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 7:58pm

Spygate should be bigger than ever now, and now it's getting buried. This is infuriating. This should be the top story on every sports Web site right now. You can't even find it on CBS Sportsline. This shouldn't be going away, and shame on everybody (the NFL, media outlets) who are trying to push it into the shadows.

The Pats titles are all tainted now. Sorry.

Re: 437, exactly.

If you disagree, you should have a better reason than "other teams probably do it." No other teams have even been named as suspects at this point. If that happens, then you can build your case on that foundation.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 10:04pm

If they really were relaying signals into Brady's headset then as far as I am concerned the Patriots haven't won a Superbowl yet.

How about Brady's affronted interview where he claimed it was ridiculous to say that he might have been receiving information about the defense's signals. Yet it turns out he has. Bugger this season as far as I am concerned Brady no longer has a body of work to merit Hall of Fame consideration. Same for Belichick. Is Scarneccia still a great line coach? Easy to sort out a blocking scheme when you know what the plays are.

If we ever hear what actually went on I may reconsider but until that point there are far too many asterisks over the Pats and their players acheivements for me to feel any differently.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 10:29pm

Buddy Biancalana #437:

Cheaters and apologists for cheaters always rationalize their actions by the "everyone else is/was doing it" lemming arguement.

This reduces morals to majoritarian opinion or worse; whatever you can get away with becomes moral, and you need only be sorry that you got caught, not that you got caught cheating.

by cd6! (not verified) :: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 10:52pm

In the 2000's the Steelers have had two AFC championship game losses to the Pats during which time the Patriots are known to have been cheating.


by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 12:30pm

Bobman #436:
They clearly outplayed my team (Colts) durng most of this era mainly on good D, which is not affected by this issue.
No, that is affected by the accusations of defensive linemen wearing wires to tape record offensive line blocking calls and accusations of taping opponents walk-throughs (its hard to believe that if they did that against the Rams that was the only time they did it).
Perhaps the Pats really were inside of Peyton's (and Jeff Saturday's) head because they knew in advance the blocking that would be called for different defensive alignments???
Don't be so dissmissive of this whole issue that it is "only" taping of defensive hand signals. This is clearly a case of a man who does not feel the ordinary rules of the game and society apply to him - just look at his personal life and the imbroglio with the trampy secretary of the Giants. I think he took and takes every possible angle to chisel away at fair play to gain an advantage.

by max (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 1:04pm

With the latest developments in the ongoing Specter investigation and related Matt Walsh reports, as a Rams fan I feel we were cheated out of our place in history.

The 2001 Rams, The Greatest Show on Turf, World Champions.

The Rams can never get that back. Who know how bad Belichick's cheating damaged the careers of Martz and Warner? Saying it's old news just doesn't cut it.

by cd6 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 1:40pm


To be fair.

That same year the Pats upset the Steelers in the AFC championship game. Perhaps if they don't cheat, the Steelers pull it out and THEY face the Rams instead.

Do you really think that Martz and Kurt Warner could have overcome the force of nature known as Kordell Stewart? Doubtful.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 2:57pm

444 is my nominee for thread of the year.

Yeah, I know it is still early in 2008...but I dont think it's gonna get much better than that.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 2:58pm

oops...obviously I meant POST of the year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 3:55pm

I'll just note the silliness in equating a Senate investigation of commerce in steroids, a behavior made illegal by Congress, and a Senate investigation of the taping of football coaches in violation of NFL rules, an activity not addressed in the U.S. Code.

Having said that, if Belichik did engage in what has been alleged, a lifetime banishment would not be unwarranted. I will also say that a coach who allowed his signals to be so easily deciphered has been entirely negligent. Why do you suppose offensive playcallers have been using their playsheets to to cover their mouths for a few decades now? It is well known that attempts to steal signals are widespread, and the defensive guys didn't think the same applied to them, therefore allowing an opponent to use signaling data from a preseason game that would be useful in the Super Bowl? That is shockingly stupid.

by cd6 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 4:54pm

Regardless of whether or not one thinks investigating Belichick should be one of Congress' top priorities, we the fans clearly got a lot more info from Specter's chat with Goodell than we did during the initial "investigation" Goodell did on his own.

It's been confirmed that Belichick has been breaking the rules the entire time he's been in New England, and explicitly confirmed they used illegal tapes against the steelers in the 2004 afc championship game, so I never have to put up with "omg pats dynasty" fanboys again.

by max (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 5:14pm


I'm with ya. It should have been Steelers-Rams that year. But let's not forget the Raiders and the Tuck Rule loss to the Pats. The Steeler should have to play the Raider first. Then the winner plays the Rams.

To be fair.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 6:32pm

Where was Congress when the NBA ref scandal went down last year? Did that not compromise the "integrity of the game?" Oh wait, the NBA isn't as popular as the NFL. My bad.

In terms of taping defensive signals - most coaches would admit that they change the signals all the time. Not only that, but they normally have a couple of decoys sending signals in as well. I'm not exactly sure what benefit this really provides.

Once this gets exposed as gamesmanship rather than cheating, hopefully this story will be put to bed for good.

We have better and more important things to worry about - like Roger Clemens.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 6:44pm

Also, from NFL.com:

"Page 105 of the Game Operations manual says: "No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." It later says: "All video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."

2. And, a memo from Ray Anderson, NFL head of football operations, to head coaches and GMs on Sept. 6, 2006 said: "Video taping 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."

So, in the first version of the rule, there was no mention that taping signals was illegal. The part about signal taping was included in 2006, two years after the last Pats SB win.

by seven year lion (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 7:55pm

re 450:

First of all, the federal government (via the FBI) was involved with the Donaghy scandal.

Second, whatever you think of congress's "integrity of the game" standard, personally it think it is uncommonly silly, it is being applied pretty evenly accross the two situations.

NBA: Integrity threatened by gambling ref. League fires ref, tells FBI they will fully cooperate in investigation. The identified problem is eliminated and took steps to locate any as yet undiscovered problems. What else would Congress or any other reasonable observer want the league to do to repair integrity? They can't go back and replay all the games Donaghy called. I suppose you could take issue of their level of "cooperation" but I've never seen any suggestion that they're sandbagging the FBI.

NFL: Integrity threatened by rule-breaking organization/coach. League collects evidence, substantially punishes organization/coach, destroys evidence, says, "We talked to the team/coach and they said nothing bad happened. Everything is fine." I can see where a group overseeing the integrity of the league (again, I don't really think that should be congress in a case like this that is based strictly on rule breaking) may want to take a little bit of a closer look at things. If the NBA had suspended Donaghy for a year or 2 years or whatever, then let him come back and officiate games all while telling everyone "Don't worry it's cool," I think things might be a little different, especially given the criminal nature of the gambling.

You can say congress's intervention here is dumb, and you might be right, but that doesn't really indciate unfair treatment to the parites involved no do anything to change or maginalize any evidence their investigation does uncover.

by RCH (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 8:08pm

Buddy and Andrew, you guys are probably right. After all it turns out that Jose Canseco was the only guy using steroids in baseball.

As I said in my post I'm not trying to rationalize the Patriots behavior. They were caught violating rules and punished. If they lied about other violations they'll be punished further.

We'll see if everyone maintains his outrage as the story unfolds. Are Giants fans ready for Belichick to answer under oath whether he used these taping methods while working under Parcells?

by Jake_Plummers_Beard (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 8:10pm

If the signals and signs being relayed to the QB made them omniscient, why did the Pats stink with Bledsoe at QB before Brady? Seems to me that if the signals were so critical, Bledsoe should have been the Super Bowl MVP QB in 2001.

by Buddy Biancalana (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2008 - 11:01pm

Re: Will Allen #447

Will, it's a multi-billion industry with an anti-trust exemption. And there are very serious questions about the way it is policing itself. JJust because there's not a federal law against cheating in football does not mean the U.S. government does not have an interest in how the NFL conducts its operations.

It is very obvious that you have an agenda, but face it. The league did an inadequate job handling the situation, just like MLB declined to address steroids before the government forced their hand.

Now the NFL is offering inadequate indemnity for Walsh. The truth will still come out, though.

Also, in case you didn't notice Will, we're talking about a lot more than hand signals.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:17am

Golly, gee whiz, I didn't realize that saying that the Senate of the United States has no legitimate role in investigating rule-breaking in sports constituted an "agenda". What is your "agenda", Buddy, to have the state investigate every nook and cranny of modern life? The anti-trust agenda rhetoric is just a smoke screen; the exemption is either warranted on it's merits or it isn't. If it isn't, it should be repealed immediately, and if it is, that doesn't make using the power of the Senate to look into rules-breaking legitimate, any more than it would be for them to take up an investigation of roughing the passer calls. Believe it or not, Buddy, the purpose of the United States Government is not to guarantee you satisfactory football entertainment, and it is not the role of the United States Senate to pass judgement on who is adequately policing themselves, until that time it is alleged that someone is breaking a law. This is an abuse of government power, and that is a helluva lot more offensive than anything Bill Belichik has been accused of doing, because the stakes are so much higher.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:27am


I guess one of the biggest differences between the two leagues is that the NBA fired a hitherto faceless referee, someone with no profile and no impact on the game (until the scandal). They were able to take quick (brainless) action on a man with seemingly no allegiance. There was not one fanbase in the country that could/would argue with the firing of a dirty ref (minus the ten members of the Donaghy family).

From the NFL's point of view - Belichick has been acclaimed as one of the best coaches of all time. He's the on-field leader of a particular team with millions of supporters. Was the NFL supposed to fire him for this? He performed a practice that, according to many accounts from those "in the know," is fairly common across the league - in various forms.

The NBA scandal lasted about 4 minutes, and most people would be hard pressed to recall the details of the circumstances (why has this not been a more prevalent comparison among the media???).

What are the differences between the two? I keep coming back to the fact that the popularity of the NBA pales in comparison to football.

My prediction is that if the Pats go down for this, they will reveal wrongdoings by many, many others. They will show that these practices are part of the game, and not cheating. It's all about gamesmanship.

Why else would coaches cover their mouths when calling in plays? Why would teams assign multiple coaches to send in signals? Why would pitchers/catchers/coaches cover their mouths with their gloves while having a meeting on the mound? Why would catchers circle through rounds and rounds of signals while giving his pitcher the true pitch call?

Stealing signals has been a part of football and baseball for dozens of years. Did you know that the "Shot heard round the world" was partially caused by stealing signals? True story.

This type of gamesmanship is woven within the fabric of these games. And those that don't guard against it DESERVE to be beaten.

One last thought - in the days leading up to the Pats-Rams SB, there was a press report filed of a team reporting that they spotted a man in a building across the street with a telescope watching their practice. The surprising part of this? It was reported by Patriots defensive coach Pepper Johnson, accusing the Rams of spying on the Patriots.

Hilarious that we're not hearing more of THAT story, no?

Look it up.

by Carlos (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 2:24am


by morganja (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 4:17am

So, does anyone think Will Allen is going to apologize for all his personal, offensive attacks on anyone who suggested that there might be more to the cheating scandal than originally revealed?

Can Will Allen man up and admit that he was not only wrong, but a complete ass for his personal attacks on those who are turning out to be right?

Or will he just redefine the facts to suit his fancy?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 5:00am

Does anyone ever think morganja will become literate? After all, if he could read, he'd understand that I never once defended Belichik or the Patriots, nor did I ever minimize the behavior, other than to note that filming practices and stealing signals has happened for decades. If morganja could actually read, he'd understand that I advocated far more severe penalties for the Pats many months ago. If he could read, he'd understand that I never once, ever, made any predictions about what further facts would come out or not come out. He'd also understand that any insulting language I employed mostly mirrored what as directed towards me. Why, oh, why, would Morganja be so dense as to think that I would be hesitant to say someone was right about what further facts have become known, when I never once made any such predictions myself?

Unfortunately, there is something wrong with morganja's brain, which prevents morganja from grasping these things. Finally, once again, the sort of despicable cretin who has stated that when a team scores too many touchdowns, the expected response is to engage in violence outside the rules, in an attempt to injure and shorten careers, has absolutely no rational reason to complain about others' supposed offensiveness.

Will Morganja be man enough to admit that he is bottom- feeding scum without a shred of integrity or decency, who, if he had any capacity for shame, would slink off back under the rock from whence he came?

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 9:15am

When the taping accusations first appeared, I wrote :

“As I said yesterday, I still don’t think the crime is particularly heinous given that stealing signals is legal and feel that the massive overreaction to this is because it’s the Pats and a result of widespread jealousy. To repeat my earlier post, I’m not a Pats fan.

There are 15 more games to go. Surely it would make sense to see if there is a significant decline in the Pats performance before claiming their success over the last few years is tainted and a complete fraud.

Institutionalised cheating is endemic in most major team sports, football (soccer), rugby, cricket, baseball, the NFL etc. There are plenty of examples shown each week on televison as well as documented in many sports autobiographies. To claim otherwise is disingenuous.

As for destroying “the integrity of the league”…give me a break. A sense of perspective would be a good idea.”

I still feel the same way.

I don’t think this is any business of a national government and I would be furious if the UK government involved itself in a breach of the rules of any private body that did not break the law. It’s not as if they haven’t got far more important things to concern themselves with.

During the NFL Network’s “America’s Game” programme on the 1976 Raiders, one of the players stated they always wore gloves that matched the shirts of their opponents so that it would be much harder to spot when they were holding. Gamesmanship or cheating? I’d call it cheating yet no-one suggests an asterisk or that John Madden should be removed from the Hall of Fame.

What I am surprised about is that there hasn’t been more outrage from all the other owners and coaches given that they would appear to be the biggest victims. Any thoughts on why that is?

by JMM (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 10:49am

#461 - See the last part of #447. For a coach or organization to admit having signals stolen played a role in a loss is admitting they were outsmarted. It is similar in some ways to why victims of small confidence schemes don't report the loss. It’s easier to say "we didn't execute." then "I got out smarted."

As to the argument that “everyone does it”… If you have rule, enforce them, it you don’t enforce them drop them.

And for those who are outraged by Spector’s role, I can only say he has asked questions that I would (and have) also asked. The fact he is in a position to get an answer is not a problem in my eyes. There is a difference between an elected official asking questions of private businesses and armed officials giving instructions to individuals.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:10pm

JMM, I think you may be a bit naive about what it means to get a "request" from a United States Senator. That's why a United States Senator, if he has any self-limiting instinct or sense of proportion, and hasn't become an overweening egomaniacal gasbag, exercises his public rhetoric, and interaction with the public generally, with some restraint. Football coaches who exceed their proper boundaries are easy to ignore. Not so much Senators.

Again, I advocated far more severe penalties for the Pats months ago, just because it appeared to me that Belichik was willfully a very slow learner, in terms of grasping the meaning of league memos, and in my experience willfully slow learners like Belichik can benefit from having their minds more concentrated with some severe negative conditioning. That is a seperate issue, however, from a U.S. Senator behaving in the manner Specter has.

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:30pm

JMM, My point was not that the Pats didn’t cheat or break the rules. They clearly did and were penalised by a heavy fine and the loss of a first round draft pick. Neither was I condoning rule breaking.

It is just my opinion that the level of vitriol this particular form of cheating or competitive advantage (delete as appropriate) has aroused is disproportional to the offence committed and is being driven more by an Anti-Pats agenda than by rational thinking.

Is what they did wrong? Yes. Is what the Raiders did wrong? Yes. If you break the rules you deserve to be punished but let’s not pretend that it’s only the Pats who have ever broken the rules

by seven year lion (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:31pm


I'm aware that attempts at signal stealing are widespread. And while I tend to think that what the Patriots are accused of doing isn't quite as common as the other things you describe, that really isn't an issue I think is important, so I'm not going to address the cheating/gamesmanship dichotomy.

My problem, and the reason this has blown up, is the league reaction to it. The complete lack of transparency is really troubling to me. The league destroyed all the evidence. When the Walsh story came out, the league's response was, "We talked to the Patriots and they said they didn't do anything." Now Goodell is changing his story and saying "Oh yeah, actually this has been happening since 2000, but seriously, don't worry about it."

As a football fan, I was satisfied with the initial punishment itself, but highly unsatisfied with the behavior of the league. Why destroy the evidence? There is no legitimate reason I can come up with to explain that. It makes everything else look bad.

The league's reaction is why I'm mad, and it's the difference between this and Donaghy. Same with the Giants' Polo Grounds telescope guy, really. That guy only admitted doing it a few years ago, 50 years after the fact. There's really not much MLB or the Giants can do besides sending Ralph Branca an apology note.

by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:50pm

Nothing makes me chuckle more than the select members of the Pats fanbase who threaten us with the "integrity of the league" as a potential penality if this trainwreck of an investigation is actually executed with some diligence and good faith effort.

As if this story is some Oliver Stone/Tom Clancy mass conspiracy instead of just one organization.

Nothing more than an evolved and overly dramatic version of "...but Mom...everyone is doing it."


by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:53pm

Why aren't more people talking about the story linked in my name? These types of tactics work both ways.

It is merely gamesmanship. One can only wonder what kind of play this story would get if it happened to a more likeable guy than BB.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 12:56pm


To not admit that it works both ways is what's truly pathetic.

See the link in my name and the link in my prior post.

by Fergasun (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 1:15pm

In light of the new evidence, I think the NFL needs to come down harder on the Pats and Belichick. I don't know what appropriate penalties would be but something like stripping the rest of their draft picks and banishment for Belichick and perhaps the rest of the coaching staff. They need to set an example that this type of behavior is against league rules and will not happen again.

This is not mere gamesmanship of using the audio from TV broadcast, or trying to spy on the opposing team's practice (well sans videocamera).

I wonder what the competition committee will say. I think this might tarnish Tags reputation, as well as severely tarnish Goodell. It's embarrassing it took someone like Spector to uncover the truth as well.

by JMM (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 2:13pm

I have been accused of many things, but naive has not been on the list for more than a couple of decades. Thanks. Its good to feel young again. The power of the Senate (or House for that matter) is precisely what I meant when I said he was in a position to get his questions answered. His questions to this stage have been just that. I would have a different response if sworn testimony was sought. If it gets to that stage, then I'll be more sympathetic. Do you think Belichick (and Kraft- See recent Dr. Z column) or Goodell is Sapector's target?


I think I understand, and I can assure you in 1976 I was condemning the Raiders and their coach far more than I have these Pats. You see, I am a Steeler fan who remembers the last 4 coaches.

by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 2:42pm

"Why aren’t more people talking about the story linked in my name?"

Because a guy in HIS OWN HOUSE with a telescope doesn't remotely compare to a full-time ex-employee of the Pats organization who was caught cheating and later established that this cheating has been done since 2000...when Matt Walsh was in the exact same job title as Matt Estrella.

That might have something to do with it.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 2:53pm


Why aren’t more people talking about the story linked in my name?

Because firstly there is nothing in the article that suggests that it was anyone employed by the opposition, it could just have been the person who owned the house or a random person taking advantage of the opportunity to have a peek at an NFL practice. Even if it were an opposition employee there is no evidence to incriminate anybody.

Do you seriously think that one report of someone saying they think they saw a telescope is equivalent to loads of illegal videotapes and then lieing about what was on them?

by steelberger (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 3:19pm

Re 451:

You're splitting hairs. The rule says that no taping whatsoever is allowed on the sidelines. It doesnt need to specifically describe what you cant tape, because you CANT TAPE ANYTHING.

The memo, if the rumors are true, specifically pointed out taping signals because teams had complained about the Pats doing it. That didnt make it a "new rule" as you seem to be implying.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 4:35pm

I checked in to this thread again the other day, after the news came down about the Pats doing this since 2000, to see the reaction. Amazing that the same things are still going on in these posts--i.e. debating Congressional intervention, Mr. Will still claiming others insult him first, people in an uproar over what would or wouldn't have happened in this or that playoff game, people complaining that the human motivation to cheat has always been part of sports.

Yes, I certainly acknowledge to my Conservative brethren that it is a valid debate as to whether or not the power of the State should be involved in the affairs of private business, with all the attendant factors such as the questions of interstate commerce, anti-trust exemptions, general public welfare etc. And, yes it is quite valid for everyone to think about the definite possibility that the Pats dominance, Brady's often off the charts performances, the seeming prescience of the entire offense--could all have been the result of the Pats achievement of an apparent higher tech, higher level of cheating.

But there's this huge elephant in the room that no one on this thread has addressed, including myself, except to say that we don't know what should be done about it--either by the League itself (who clearly wasn't going to do anything beyond what it had done, that being only a PR effort to try and make it look to the naive public like something heavy was really being handed down--give me a break--250K is a little turd in an ocean of money for these people, and stripping the draft choice meant next to nothing) or by Congress. (who likely won't do caca in the end, I have to acknowledge)
The real question is that--what should be done ? It is certainly not the engaging in these circular arguments on a website thread and insulting anyone who doesn't see it the way we do--nor is it the engaging in more of the same on sports talk radio. NOW OF COURSE THEY ALL TRY TO CHEAT--that's the point--how best to try and reign this stuff in. It's not a bad thing, by any means folks, that Mr. Bonds, Ms Jones, and now, potentially, Mr. Clemens are to be, and have been, prosecuted for their perjury if not their illegal substance use. How about simply putting these people from the NFL into deposition or grand jury mode ?
How can any of you, regardless of what you think of what the role of Congress is or should be, believe that Goodell and the others should not be asked in some manner, some format, to go on the record ? You tell us Mr. Will, perhaps you actually are a lawyer, or any of the rest of you--what should be done ? Minimizing the importance to society of all this is really unrealistic. Anyone who has been alive since the 60's or earlier has seen the march of the NFL to this huge place in our national life--whether or not that is crazy or healthy, it, in fact, is a fact. So what now ?

by Buddy Biancalana (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 6:19pm

Will Allen. I suppose you're right.

The government should ignore cheating in football and steroids in baseball and let the sports go to crap because league officials refuse to address the issues themselves.

And when the government grants an anti-trust exemption, it is an offensive abuse of power if Congress is interested in how the grantee conducts its business, or even less importantly, the quality of the product the grantee delivers to the public.

As long as there's no violation of federal code, the grantee can do whatever the hell it pleases, including delivering an inferior product or service.

And the government should NEVER investigate the merits on which that anti-trust exemption is based.

Question for you Will and be honest: Are you a Pats fan?

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 6:37pm

Buddy--Our cyber acquaintance Mr. Will claims to be no Pats fan. But he is representative of this quasi-Libertarian viewpoint that all things Government are to be avoided and feared--that any step of Congress into territories not to do with clear cut violations of law should be one of the highest things to be feared and avoided. He does not acknowledge that the anti-trust exemption alone insists that it is the imperative of Congress to look into Pro Sports when there are major questions of impropriety. (and there are many other valid reasons in my view, besides the anti-trust exemption granted by society--obviously millions of other people, such as yourself, feel the same)That sort of outlook predominating the political landscape of America since the Reagan days has proven very convenient for Pro Sports and lots of the other huge money interests in the US. Personally I'm very happy to have seen a Republican Senator bring this action, it's a positive step towards compromise in this society. Had it been a Democrat the Right would be howling away. I don't expect many, if any, of his fellow Republicans in Congress to join him if he chooses to try to take this matter further as he is, in fact, talking about. (perhaps this objective Republican Souder from Indiana who the other day did not seek to protect Roger Clemens and the Baseball owners--maybe he might join this effort of Specter's) But it's a positive step in my view.

by Paul Casassa (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 10:18pm

I am so SICK of hearing about the Spygate "scandal" of the Patriots videotaping opposing team's signals. Teams are allowed to tape opposing team's signals, provided they do so from within an enclosed area up and away from the field. The Patriots broke the "rule" by doing so from a sideline, or an endzone. This is such an absurd and trivial technicality.

It has about as much relevance as being labled a "cheater" at work for breaking the speed limit on the way in.

Camera equipment, both video and audio, has the ability to zoom in and see and hear the most minute of detail from across the stadium.

While I agree that Belichick now has galvanized his image as being the most arrogant coach, all this talk about gaining any kind of unfair advantage is utter nonsense. Let the league handle the matter, enough already.

by cd6! (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 11:23pm

467 Why aren’t more people talking about the story linked in my name?

What's that, a guy with a telescope? If you think that's bad, check this: You may not have heard, but one team has been systematically illegally taping other teams' coaches since 2000. The NFL even apparently recovered tapes and notes as evidence. If you're that worked up about some guy with a telescope, I assume you'll be really angry that this NFL team, right?

477 The Patriots broke the “rule”

Bad news buddy. Putting quotes around the word "rule" doesn't mean you're allowed to just do whatever you want.

by Buddy Biancalana (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2008 - 11:59pm

Re 477: It obviously is a lot easier to shoot the video from the sideline. Where are there enclosed areas at a stadium? The press box?

Also, the possible taping of a SB walk-through is a lot more serious.

by Football Jedi (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 1:30am

"Teams are allowed to tape opposing team’s signals, provided they do so from within an enclosed area up and away from the field."

The fail is strong with this one.

by Buddy Biancalana (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 8:54am

Rick A.:

You're the first one to bring up the relevance of party affiliation in this. Great observation. I won't pretend to know a lot about Specter, but I know he's always been one of the less partisan Republicans. Imagine if it was a Bears dynasty (the Pats are a dynasty IMHO) under the microscope and Ted Kennedy was making a fuss.

I wasn't aware that Will Allen was a laissez-faire-to-the-extreme guy. It's a whole other debate whether the government should investigate possible misconduct of multi-billion dollar industries with anti-trust exemptions.

I personally believe it should, especially when it's a National Pastime that millions of people care about.

Investigate and see how it goes.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 9:28am

#478, cd6

Nicely done.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 1:49pm

JMM, I heard the other day that Specter made a request to Chairman Leahy to start using Senate resources for lawyers and investigators, and the request was granted, so that's the direction this is headed. Yes, the power of the state and the taxpayer's dollar are going to be used to investigate whether a football coach broke the rules of the NFL.

What really is notable about this thread is the mindset of many, which is one that truly believes that they have suffered harm if a football game wasn't fairly contested, and that it is the responsibility of the United States government do make sure that their lives are protected from the looming horror of a football game's outcome being affected by a coach who broke a league's rules. Thus, you get the silliness wherein a Senate investigation into the illegal commerce in a category of drugs which are prohibited by law, is equated with a Senate investigation into whether a coach in a sport league broke the sports league's rules. Or you get the sophistry inherent in the assertion that because Congress grants an antitrust exemption (again if the exemption does not have sound legal basis, it should be repealed immediately, reghardless of whether Bill Belichik broke some rules or not), it becomes legitimate for Congress to regulate every aspect of that business.

These people really think that it is the business of the United States government to make sure that their trivial entertainment pleasures have standards upheld. They are about on the level of those who would call for a Senate investigation of a Hannah Montana concert being billed as a live performance, and then featuring lip synching. Golly gee, billions are spent on the "live musical performance" industry!!!! How can such crimes be allowed, where the integrity of live music is so harmed!!!!

Thus, the constant refrain is heard, "but the NFL can't police itself!", as if whether the NFL policing itself on issues not relating to legal infractions becomes a matter of grave importance, simply because some people spend a lot of money on these entertainment events. It never seems to occur to them that the NFL, or professional football, could disapperar at noon today, and other than some short term dislocations, our society wouldn't be harmed at all.

If someone could put forth an argument regarding what difference it makes to society if people watch an NFL game instead of some other reality T.V. event, or the Jerry Springer Show, for that matter, it may be worth listening to that argument. The fact is, however, that it really isn't important to society at all, despite all the sound and fury signifying nothing.

Finally, you know that the argument is weak (which doesn't apply to you JMM), once a lot of effort is made to affix labels to opposing viewpoints, such as "conservative" or "laissez faire to the extreme" , instead of simply making an argument on it's merits.

Also, to PaulA; look, if you want to have a dialogue, then it would be better if you didn't engage in outright lies about what other people's positions are, such as when you dishonestly asserted that I stated that "all things government related are to be avoided and feared". Why do you think obvious lies are an effective tool of dialogue?

by Quentin (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 2:02pm

It is well known that attempts to steal signals are widespread, and the defensive guys didn’t think the same applied to them, therefore allowing an opponent to use signaling data from a preseason game that would be useful in the Super Bowl? That is shockingly stupid.

In fairness to defensive coordinators, they don't have the benefit of electronic communication with their players. Their signals must be visible to a player on the field 20-30 yards away, making them all but impossible to cover up.

On Spygate dating back to 2000:
Is this supposed to be a surprise? Taping signals is a part of how Belichick prepared for games. He probably didn't even think it up, but rather learned it early on in his coaching career from someone else (possibly Parcells).

The punishment
As long as it's only the taping that gets proven, I think that a first rounder is sufficient. If evidence of lineman sneaking mic's onto the field underneath their shirts comes to light, then I believe a suspension and possible ban warrants real consideration. The fact that they own a top-10 pick from a deal they made with the Niners is irrelevant, in my opinion. That pick is part of a trade. If you nullify it, you nullify the deal(which can't be done at this point). I see it as akin to forcing them to cut a player in a way that taking away their own first rounder isn't. I don't care if Bill Belichick was found to be personally injecting his players with steroids while Scott Pioli dumped HGH in the Gatorade, that pick should be untouchable.

by Quentin (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 2:07pm

Whoops, I didn't read carefully enough. I did not notice you were referring to a pre-season game. Apologies.

by Quentin (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 2:30pm

Oh, and as for Congress, what good can possibly come of this? For those of you advocating a congressional hearing, what kind of outcome are you hoping for? Let's say the sum of all you fears are realized. Then what?

by JMM (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 2:48pm


I put Specter's comments down to typical saber rattling. To say it is over the top to threaten hearings, might be arguable if not for the fact the Specter’s initial inquiry sat in the NFL’s office for more than 60 days with no response. Most private institutions would respond in some way to a senator’s inquiry sooner than that.

IMHO, the key phrase from your last post is “the NFL can’t police itself.” In my eyes, that is the crux of the matter. If that is true, what is to be done? The NFL is a highly successful and very visible. To hand out punishments before the evidence has been reviewed is bizarre. Then, for the NFL to destroy the evidence with no public vetting smacks of cover-up. Who can hold the NFL accountable? The press? Don’t think so. They are partners with the NFL won’t rock the boat on important issues. The “market?” The facts have to come out first.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 3:20pm

JMM, why is it important that an enterprise, which does nothing more than try to make money by getting people to watch football games, police itself, with regards to the rules it decides to have? Why on earth does something have "to be done" with regard to enforcing the rules of a football league? What if nothing is done? So what? Either people will want to watch, or they won't to watch. From the point of view of societal importance, what possible difference does it make?

I'll ask you a quyestion that was avoided by others above; by the "can't police itself" or "something must be done" standard, why shouldn't the Senate now hold hearings about the lack of traveling calls by referees in the NBA, especially on superstars?

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 3:27pm

Can somebody explain to me why Congress didn't get involved with the Donaghy scandal? Sure, Donaghy got fired and HE was guilty of federal charges. But where there's smoke, there's fire. Where was Congress in this? Why weren't more referees investigated? If you want to dig and dig, of course you're going to find things. If Congress wants to investigate the practices of the other 31 NFL teams, I'm sure they'll find a hell of a lot of questionable tactics across the board.

I would like to know the fundamental differences between the Donaghy scandal and the Pats scandal. If anything, the ref scandal is much worse. But if you ask ten people about the details of the Donaghy situation, I'm sure nine of them would be scratching their heads. And this took place less than one year ago.

It reeks of a double standard. I guess we'd only find out more about the ref scandal if the NBA ratings were better and Donaghy reffed more Sixers games.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 4:15pm


My understanding of why Congress always butts into baseball's problems, but rarely those of any other sports, is that the MLB came to an anti-trust agreement with Congress that is unique among major sports. MLB answers directly to Congress because the U.S. government basically has a controlling influence. No other league was stupid enough to do this. Hence why Congress doesn't get involved in basketball scandals and shouldn't get involved in an NFL scandal, especially when there are other destroyed tapes that are far more crucial an issue to this nation that they should be spending their time on.

by cd6! (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 4:48pm


When there's a Hanna Montanna concert, Congress has already been involved, considering the hundreds of laws a regulations the concert providers must adhere to, regulating crowd size, number of fire exits, the serving of alcohol, what kind of pyrotechnics they can use on stage, etc. You're protesting Specter's investigation as if Congress is totally hands off everything else in the world and suddenly they're poking their nose into the NFL out of nowhere.

What's more, since we live in America, if his constituents don't like how Specter is prioritizing his time, they have the option of voting him out of office.


Nicky P, it might be time to give it up. After your failed attempt to change the subject to say "somebody spied on the Pats," nobody's going to buy into the "what about the NBA?" diversion. The FBI is already involved in that one. It's their job, and I suspect they're good at it.

And again, the Donagy scandal was one guy, one ref, who supposedly just ripped off every team equally. The Pats scandal is one team cheating to gain an advantage over the others. And it must have been a signifigant advantage, because they were able to win 3 superbowls with a sixth round draft pick college backup QB.

by JMM (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 5:10pm


Nothing HAS to be done. There is an entire continum ranging from (your straw man argument) holding hearings on the lack of traveling calls in the NBA, to at the other end (extreme) a congress that does nothing short of declaring war if the States were attacked.

I don't find either extreme acceptable. Then the discussion becomes what the limits should be. I don't intend to get into that here except to say I have as much concern about large commercial organizations acting for their own best intrest and ignoring the "norms" of good society as I do government organizations doing the same. A review of recent history shows the commercial organizations to be at least as big of a problem.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 5:27pm


You can have all the tape in the world and you can spend hundreds of hours pouring over game film, defensive signals, teams' tendencies in 3rd and long, etc.

At some point, the players line up and have to executive. Players make plays. Without the players making plays, none of the winning is possible. You can have the best strategy on any particular play, but if you fail to execute, it won't mean jack.

Until I'm convinced that most teams don't employ similar tactics, no, I won't give it up.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 6:23pm

JMM, since when did it become the function of the United States Government to make sure that citizens, or whatever organizations they form, don't ignore the norms of a good society? Do you honestly wish the United States Congress do become the norms police? The quantity of norms being violated in our society is so large that they can scarcely be counted. If you standard for government action is "the norms of a good society are being violated", or even "the norms of a good society are being violated by a profit making entity engaged in interstate commerce" that is a prescription for a government which virtually knows no boundaries. Tell me, exactly, what is the difference between some basketball fans feeling unhappy because Michael Jordan doesn't have the rules enforced in a close game, and some football fans
feeling unhappy because the Pats don't have rules enforced in a close football game.

cd6, perhaps you can explain precisely why there is a compelling government interest in making sure that citizens who watch football think that the rules of a football league are being enforced, in the manner that there is a compelling government interest in making sure that citizens who attend a Hannah Montana concert don't burn to a crisp if a fire breaks out. I'm trying to understand the mindset which equates the threat to society encompassed in some citizens not feeling good about how a football game was decided, for lack of attention to enforcement of the football league's rules, with the threat to society encompassed in some citzens being incinerated, for lack of attention to fire safety rules, but for some reason it doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps you can illuminate.

by cd6! (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 7:53pm


Agree, that players have to execute. But its far far easier to execute if you know exactly who's blitzing, exactly where Hole-In-Zone is going to be, etc.

And I don't know what you to tell you about every other team. There's a wealth of evidence that one team has been breaking the rules, but that doesn't seem to phase you. There's no evidence other teams have been doing the same thing. Your required burden of proof of "prove to me you don't cheat" is rather difficult to overcome, isn't it? How does Tony Dungy, for example, prove he doesn't video tape?

True, there's obvious differences between rules for safety reasons like a fire, and the Pats cheating, but that doesn't negate my point that all entertainment events, like both concerts, and football games, are already heavily regulated. If you take out "fire safety" rules, there's still things like sales tax, ticket scalping rules, rules on food service, parking regulations, advestising, etc. Everything is regulated. Like I said, this isn't Congress just nosing in somewhere it hasn't been before.

Moreover, "cd6, perhaps you can explain precisely why there is a compelling government interest in making sure that citizens who watch football think that the rules of a football league are being enforced" is just an argument to minimize the whole thing as a "fairness" issue and ignores that fact that the Patriots organization profits heavily from superbowl wins. And they don't just make themselves wealthy in a vacuum, they profit at the expense of the teams they beat, like the Eagles, the Panthers, the Colts, the Steelers, etc. Then there's the issues of players' contracts, coaches who get fired or hired, merchandising, etc. Many many people are directly or indirectly impacted. Congress, which acts as "the people" is simply acting to protect "the people's interests." And, again, to reiterate it, if you don't like it, then you have the option to vote your Congressman out of office.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 9:02pm

Yes, it does negate the point, cd6. There is a compelling government interest in seeing that the public isn't incinerated. There is no compelling government interest in seeing that ther public is satisfied with how the NFL rules are enforced. Now, you seem to now concede that there is no such compelling government interest with regard to the public (at least that canard can be discarded!), but another one exists, because some partners in a commercial arrangement have been damaged by the Pats' behavior.

Well, first of all, there is considerable evidence that winning a Super Bowl is not the most profitable path in owning an NFL team, so any financial damages the other teams may have suffered is far from established. More to the point, it is very unusual to have Congress involve itself in commercial disputes, especially when none of the partners are complaining. To date, one entity, a former player for the Rams, has claimed to be damaged, and he did so in the proper forum, civil court. Why is a U.S. Senator involving himself in a commercial dispute between business associates that could be litigaged in civil court?

Finally, you seem to be engaged in a tautology, wherein you claim that a U.S. Senator's actions are within reasonable bounds because, well, he has been elected U.S. Senator! This strikes me as a bizarre line of reasoning, at best. Naturally, I think Specter losing his next election, if he were to run, would be an excellent idea, but if your thinking were to prevail, any Senator who decided to not run again would be perfectly reasonable to engage in any act which employed the powers of his office, since only by losing an election could such an exercise of power be deemed wrong. For the life of me, I fail to understand your thinking here.

by JMM (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 10:18pm
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 10:36pm

JMM, you can assert an apple is an elephant, but that doesn't make it so. If you wish to assert that a Senate investigate into NBA traveling calls is substantially different than a Senate investigation into the NFL's rules against taping opposing coaches or practices, do so in a manner that demomstartes the difference. Simply asserting "straw man" does not make it so.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 11:27pm

wow, leave for a couple of days and there's 75 new posts.
The only thing I have to add is that nothing new was learned. All Specter did was take the information the we already knew but mentioned some specifics and made them public. The penalty was already in place 6 months ago. If the Rooneys or Loria were crying injustice, I'd be worried.
I've made my stance clear in earlier posts (not that anyone wants to go through 500 posts), this is not steroids in baseball, this is a guy standing on second base stealing signs from a catcher.

By the way, in case you missed the season, AFTER everything was taken, the "6th round backup QB" broke an NFL record for TD passes and won 16 regular season games in a row. He's not a choirboy, but let's keep some perspective.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2008 - 11:39pm

"this is not steroids in baseball, this is a guy standing on second base stealing signs from a catcher."

No. This would be like a paid employee of the team videotaping the catcher's signals to the pitcher.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:02am

Am I motivated by hate for the Patriots? You're damn right I am, and I make no apologies for it.

The Patriots cheated repeatedly. Because of that, I HATE THEM, and want them to suffer for it.

by JMM (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:13am


Let's recap. You propose a question based on a fictitious set of facts, can't get anyone to address it, and then call me out for pointing out it is a straw man. OK. If you want to assert the two cases to be the same, feel free to do so. I'll stay with the case that is.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:31am

Kyle S
I didn't realize that in baseball paid employees of a team videotaping the catcher’s signals to the pitcher was a common enough relatable occcurrence for comparative value...I guess you missed the point.
And I will submit that in this thread, you can post all the hate you want, but it's really not getting us anywhere. It's so September 2007.

What you Patriot-hating (or cheater hating) guys should do is start a website to pool money for Matt Walsh's legal defense. I'd put in 5 bucks if it gets us closer to the truth.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:37am

No Herm, you missed my point:

A baseball equivalent to Spygate would be if a paid employee videotaped, from the dugout, a catcher's signals to the pitcher.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:55am


It's called the center field camera. No paid employee from any teams needed.

Because of this, catchers guard against the camera or the man on 2nd by flashing multiple signs to the pitcher. Just like in football, teams guard against signal stealing by having a couple decoy coaches sending signals in addition to the real set of signals being sent in by another coach.

Give me a break with this already.

Have any of you actually played sports?

by tin hat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:56am

Anyone else think that the NFL forced the Pats to throw SBXLII? Some thoughts:

1. If the Rams videotaping story is true, it would be seen by the NFL as a way to even up the score with the Pats without causing a huge controversy.

2. Such a tit-for-tat plan would probably have to be approved by a few owners directly affected by the Pats' cheating - such as the Rooneys. Approval would be granted because (a) it is deserved, (b) it reduces the momentum of the spygate investigation if the Pats lose the SB, an investigation that could have horrible consequences for the NFL, (c) there are probably other instances of past rule bending/cheating that various owners don't want looked into.

3. It protects the 72 Phins from being joined by a team with very questionable morality, suffering from a huge reactionary hatred. This helps preserve the NFL fanbase and interest. There are so many fans upset already, imagine how sick people would be if the Pats had won the SB?

I'm not saying this is all particularly likely, but I think it's more probable than the Giants beating the Pats in the SB.

And as for how the Pats would actually go about throwing the game... very few people would be involved. There's no way the players would know. I'm guessing Belichick would be held responsible by the NFL for managing to throw the game, maybe coordinators as well.

And I think it's do-able... make sure the players' preparation is horrible, spending practice time on tactics you know will play into the Giants' hands, and then if need be making bad calls in high-leverage situations.

Just a hypothesis.

by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 3:45am

I suggest any debate participants read Belichick's (long absent, now present) statement that addresses the "Spygate" scandal. Highlights:

1) He and Pioli call Walsh a liar.
2) He says he's never videotaped anybody's practice - not even the Pats' practice.
3) He says he read the rule to mean that videotaping was legal as long as the tape was not used during the game when the tape was made. Believe him or not, the rule as written is sufficiently unclear that this dodge is at least plausible.
4) With 3) in mind, it still seems strange that, having been warned in 2006 about taping, he still went ahead and did it in 2007. That seems at least stupid to me. And he certainly cannot be accused of being sneaky when he's taping against a team coached by his former defensive coordinator who know about the practice.

It certainly seems plausible at this point to say that Walsh is a disgruntled employee who was fired by the Pats and who is trying to cash in years later. Perhaps he is angling for a million-dollar book deal? But to get that deal, he wants to have complete indemnity against legal action from the NFL.

It seems likely to me that we won't ultimately know whether BB is lying or Walsh is, but BB's explanation has the advantage of being simple, while the timing of the entire Walsh mess seems to have been done to maximize his own exposure.

The the people postulating that perhaps the NFL forced the Pats to lose Super Bowl XLII - isn't that a bit too convoluted? Did the league office cause Stephen Neal to re-injure his knee on the Pats' opening series? Did it cause Assante Samuel to drop a possible interception on the Giants' final drive?

I really hope that 2008 will be free of the feeding frenzy that has marred the 2007 season.

by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 3:51am

re: 495
You seem to be making more out of the Spygate incident than is warranted. All of the information you discuss can be legally obtained by any NFL team simply by taking notes. Let's be clear: scouting other teams is perfectly legally. Using videotape of prior games to prepare for future games is perfectly legal. The discrepancy is only between "using videotape you make yourself" as opposed to "using videotape from the network feeds".

This tiny sliver of difference is what you and other irrational Pats-haters have been basing a half-year of outrage. Let's be perfectly clear about that, OK?

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 4:39am

NickyP I don't care if there's already a center field camera. My original point still stands. You failed to refute it. Game, set, match.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 5:06am

Yes Herm, I left for a couple of weeks and hundreds of new posts were up--however, plenty new was learned and that's why I had interest in seeing what you all had to say about it. I'm talking about the obvious that it was learned that the Pats have been doing this since the year 2000.

Now, I also see that there's plenty of people that still cannot accept that the Giants won and made Brady look like an average QB. Wow.

I further see that Will is still saying that people are arguing that the NFL "can't police itself"--no Will, the statement is that they WON'T police themselves. And, obviously, there are plenty of people in this country that have different standards, different outlooks from you.
And you still don't tell us, even though you say you have advocated heavy penalties for the Pats, how that is supposed to be achieved.

Nicky P., yes I played sports and I can tell you that myself and many other athletes I know are quite in favor of trying to curb this stuff and end this era of cheating gone off the charts. The point is that people in the game of life and athletes in their sports will always be tempted to cheat--but there must be a new system of reigning it in to deal with the many new and advanced ways to cheat. If pro sports granted anti-trust exemption will not do anything about their houses then there must be something forced upon them by the society that grants them that special privilege.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 6:40am

No, JMM, I called you out for falsely claiming it was a strawman. If you wish to explain how the two sets of facts are fundamentally different in kind, so as to make one type of Sebate investigation different from another in nautre, feel free. In both cases, we have a sports league in which it is alleged that rules violations are not being addressed.

Rick A., you apparently can't grasp the process by which the Pats have already been penalized, and thus how they could have been more heavily penalized, and as I asked some time ago, and have since asked JMM, do you really want the United Sates Government to become the enforcer of morality or norms in our society? Why on earth would you desire this? What in the world is so imporatnt about NFL football that you think creates a compelling government interest to become involved in the rules enforcement within that league? My goodness, I've seen people in this thread use the existence of fire safety codes, designed to prevent the incineration of the public, as an example of why the government may have such a compelling interest in guaranteeing that the public had confidence that the rules of a football league were enforced! Remarkable. So what if the NFL won't police itself with regard to it's own rules? Why is that a matter of governmental concern? Please explain empirically how the NFL's failure to enforce it's rules threatens the public.

by Napoleon XIV (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 9:46am

Belichick speaks on Spygate.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 10:01am

Have any of you actually played sports?

:: Nicky P — 2/17/2008 @ 10:55 pm

Congratulations you just won the Most Fatuous Comment Award. Over five hundred comments and you have managed to out-prat them all.

by Frick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 10:53am

Am I an irrational Patriots hater, probably. Having the team you root for lose repeatedly to them will probably do that. That being said I am confused where I stand on the issue now.

Why is Bellicheck apologizing now? He didn't apologize for the Jets incident, did he? I could understand that he was focused on the season at the time, but his statement was that it was a misunderstanding of the rules. I don't really think that it was misunderstood, it was a legal response to a clear mandate from the league not to do it.

Piolli statement that Walsh was being fired for taping conversations between them is interesting. I could be innocent, but that seems to somewhat contradict prior statements I have heard that he was fired for lieing. Now it could be a combination of both. It could also be an employee trying to CYA. If you were told to do something that was illegal or unethical by your boss, wouldn't you want some proof that you were instructed to do it when they tried to throw you under the bus.

Does anyone know if all Patriots employees are required to sign confidentiality agreements or if Walsh's is related to his firing?

by cd6! (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 11:08am


The discrepancy is only between “using videotape you make yourself” as opposed to “using videotape from the network feeds”.

This tiny sliver of difference is what you and other irrational Pats-haters have been basing a half-year of outrage. Let’s be perfectly clear about that, OK?

Hahaha are you serious? You left out the minor detail that CBS doesn't keep cameras trained on the opposing teams' coaches' signals. That's like me saying "Let's be perfectly clear: the only difference between me and Peyton Manning is that he's slightly taller." Tiny sliver of difference my ass. But go ahead and call ME "irrational."

by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 11:41am

"The discrepancy is only between “using videotape you make yourself” as opposed to “using videotape from the network feeds”."

Why is it that only the Pats "Haters" get labeled here?

Why not the lemmings like RickD? Is he an Irrational Pats Lover?

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:15pm


Kyle, settle down there Agassi. Your original point makes no sense. Why would a baseball team hire someone to tape signals when they're already available to anyone watching the game?

Jimmy, I didn't realize it was foolish to suggest that sign stealing has been going on since the beginning of sports. And teams responded by taking appropriate actions to guard against it.

If everyone can just admit that the language used in the original rule could be interpreted in different ways, we might actually be able to make some progress on this issue and put it behind us so we can focus on what we all love - the game of football. BB claims he misinterpreted the rule. He paid a hefty price, as did the Patriots.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:23pm

Actually, Jimmy, RickA employed that fatuous form of argument against me a few hundred posts ago.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:30pm

Nicky P #457:

This is some great situational ethics material you are producing.

Stealing signals has been a part of football and baseball for dozens of years. Did you know that the “Shot heard round the world” was partially caused by stealing signals? True story.

Anybody with eyes is allowed to look at what their opponents are doing and try to figure it out. That's not cheating.

Videotaping these signal for later decipherment is, as the NFL specifically forbid videotaping from the stadium by the teams besides the coaches film cameras on the goal posts.

This type of gamesmanship is woven within the fabric of these games. And those that don’t guard against it DESERVE to be beaten.

So if the Pats cheated and won, good for them? And others should follow their example if they were smart???

No, sorry, breaking the rules is not woven into the fabric of the game. That's why most of us outside the little world of Pats fans are appalled by their behavior and their apologists.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:34pm

Paul #461:

During the NFL Network’s “America’s Game” programme on the 1976 Raiders, one of the players stated they always wore gloves that matched the shirts of their opponents so that it would be much harder to spot when they were holding. Gamesmanship or cheating? I’d call it cheating yet no-one suggests an asterisk or that John Madden should be removed from the Hall of Fame.

The 1970's-1980's Raiders were notorious for being dirty players and cheaters. That's what makes plays like the Immaculate Reception all the sweeter.

If you think they are admired by the rest of the league for this type of behavior, and the lawless atmosphere Al Davis encouraged, think again.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:37pm

Nicky P #467:

One can only wonder what kind of play this story would get if it happened to a more likeable guy than BB.

You really don't get it. BB is an unlikeable guy because he does stuff like this. Guys who are more above board with this stuff don't get trashed like this because they are more above board and likeable.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:53pm

Re: #521

Bullshit, Andrew. Belichick was called unlikeable by people like you and the national media long before Spygate ever game out, so saying he's considered "unlikeable" because he "does things like this" is total ex post facto bullshit.

The main reason he's considered "unlikeable" is because (a) he refuses to do the mediots' jobs for them, doesn't spoonfeed them info, and doesn't validate whatever pre-concocted storyline of the week the mediots have; (b) he doesn't suffer fools gladly -- which is a highly positive trait. Unfortunately for him, the mediots have a high fool percentage; (c) fans find it very easy to parrot whatever the mediots say about Belichick, especially the jealous fans.

In other words, in some alternate universe Belichick acted exactly the way he always has -- with the single exception of sucking up to the media -- you'd barely hear a mention of "unlikeable" from the knights of the keyboards.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:56pm


Where was the outrage when Shanahan circumvented the salary cap during Denver's SB seasons? I guess he must be more likeable than BB.

Can you at least admit there was some room for interpretation in the original rule?

Whether it was a misinterpretation or not, BB and the Pats paid dearly. So if BB wasn't "above board," he was severely penalized as a result. Nothing short of BB receiving a lifetime ban will be good enough for BB haters.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:05pm

Paul Casassa

I am so SICK of hearing about the Spygate “scandal” of the Patriots videotaping opposing team’s signals. Teams are allowed to tape opposing team’s signals, provided they do so from within an enclosed area up and away from the field. The Patriots broke the “rule” by doing so from a sideline, or an endzone. This is such an absurd and trivial technicality.

From #451:

“Page 105 of the Game Operations manual says: “No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.”


“Video taping 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.”

Doesn't sound like a technicality to me, but then I am not a BB apologist Patsfanboy.

The permission to videotape from an enclosed location that is not accessible is to allow the production of coaches tape and to allow the other team to be aware of what ia being taped and from what directions.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:12pm

Will Allen #483:

These people really think that it is the business of the United States government to make sure that their trivial entertainment pleasures have standards upheld.

Its the business of the US Government because these events were (1) broadcast over the public airwaves under contracts purporting them to be live competitions without a prearranged outcome,a nd business fraud concerning the public airwaves is a federal crime, (2) the US Government has permitted wagering upon the outcome of these games under the premise that they are bona fide competitions, and the fixing or tainting of sporting events upon which money is wagered is also a federal crime.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:12pm


The rule states: "Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant, of any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited, including without limitation videotape machines, telephone tapping, or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game."

This is a bit more wordy than what we've previously seen, no?

The parts in question would be the "from the start to the finish of any game" and "that might aid a team during the playing of a game."

I realize this is semantics, but BB was heavily punished for his "misinterpretation."

He probably just misremembered. I think I need a vacation.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:22pm

Andrew, by that standard, every game that has had a dispute over officiating, in which it is alleged that a rule was not enforced, becomes subject to Senate investigation. No, perfectly fair competitions are not guaranteed. There is no violation of the U.S. code here. Not even Specter is being that nonsensical.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:24pm

ton hat #506:

I like how you think.

And I think it’s do-able… make sure the players’ preparation is horrible, spending practice time on tactics you know will play into the Giants’ hands, and then if need be making bad calls in high-leverage situations.

Yeah, like going for it on 4th and 13 from field goal range while leading early in the game?

Sometimes, these type of scenarios seem almost too believable.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:27pm

RickD #507:

He says he’s never videotaped anybody’s practice - not even the Pats’ practice.

"I did not have sex with that woman (point to some other woman while saying this) ... Miss Lewinsky."

Of course BB never taped a practice ... himself. That's what he employs Matt Walsh and Ernie Adams' minions to do.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:30pm

Nicky P #505:

Have any of you actually played sports?

Sure. What are you slyly implying - that playing sports successfully must involve bending the rules?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:32pm

Belichik's assertion of misinterpretation is simply not credible, unless he wants to state he is illiterate. The words "a game" cannot be reasonably interpreted as "the game in which the taping occurs."

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:34pm

Frick #514:

Piolli statement that Walsh was being fired for taping conversations between them is interesting. I could be innocent, but that seems to somewhat contradict prior statements I have heard that he was fired for lieing. Now it could be a combination of both. It could also be an employee trying to CYA. If you were told to do something that was illegal or unethical by your boss, wouldn’t you want some proof that you were instructed to do it when they tried to throw you under the bus.

Could be?

Any employee with any brains knows to CYA when they realize they are being asked to do something unethical or illegal.

Walsh being fired for taping conversations with team mangagement is a huge red flag about the Pats behavior to me. Why on God's green earth would he do it besides wanting a record that the actions he undertook where at the orders of another?

No wonder he is cowering in Hawaii (can you get any further from Massachusetts in the US - I guess American Samoa is a possibility) awaiting indemnity protection to talk.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:38pm

Re 507: "He says he read the rule to mean that videotaping was legal as long as the tape was not used during the game when the tape was made. Believe him or not, the rule as written is sufficiently unclear that this dodge is at least plausible."

Are you frickin kidding me? The argument that he misinterpreted the rule is absolute idiocy.

Read post 451.

“Page 105 of the Game Operations manual says: “No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.”


Which part of "No video recording devices of any kind are permitted on the field during the game" is open to interpretation?


by Nicky P (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:48pm


The rule begins with "Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant." I'm guessing that is where he's justifying "the game in which the taping occurs."

The bottom line is even if he didn't misinterpret - he was already heavily punished.

Andrew, what I'm implying is that trying to steal signals happens at even the lowest levels of sports. People have always and will always look for an edge. If you get caught, you get punished, and that has already happened here.

by MCS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:49pm

Chiming in on this topic for the first time.

Somewhere above it says, “No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.”

What's so hard to understand?

I'm gonna go back to lurking now. Have a nice day.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:52pm

Nicky P #522:

Where was the outrage when Shanahan circumvented the salary cap during Denver’s SB seasons? I guess he must be more likeable than BB.

This old canard?


"The investigation resulted in the discovery of undisclosed agreements between the club and Broncos players during the same period [1996-1998] pursuant to which various players agreed to defer certain compensation in exchange for a commitment to pay interest on the deferred amounts," Henderson said in the statement. "These agreements were plainly designed to help the club cope with seasonal cash flow problems exacerbated by the Broncos' need to fund front-end expenditures associated with development of the new stadium in Denver."



"Our disagreement concerned certain technicalities with respect to the rules of funding deferred compensation," the statement said. "We think it is important to note that while the commissioner disagreed with our position, he determined that we did not violate or circumvent the salary cap ... and our actions did not give us a competitive advantage."

Shanahan, commenting on the action, said Wednesday he was "a little disappointed and a little confused. We had no competitive advantage. We had no salary-cap evasion."

Under league rules, each NFL team is required to place a certain portion of its deferred players' and coaches' salaries into a league reserve fund. This is done to ensure that teams do not go into long-term debt and that players who sign contracts that include deferred money are guaranteed it will be available in the future.

According to The Denver Post, the dispute dates to March 2000, when the Broncos were hoping to defer multimillion-dollar payments to running back Terrell Davis and former quarterback John Elway. The players agreed to the deferment, but Tagliabue ruled that 75 percent of the deferred money in the contracts had to be funded immediately.

Does anyone besides Al Davis believe that deferring salaries and paying interest on the deferred salaries had any affect on how the Broncos played in 1996-1998? If the Broncos were in a cash crisis at the time that necessitated as a business not paying players cash due, how does that benefit them to gain an advantage over other teams? If anything, their cash crisis caused them to be a worse team because they could not afford to spend the money they might have in free agency.

In any case, for breaking the rules with their finances, the Broncos got punished with fines and lost draft picks. There is little outrage though because the violations didn't threaten the integrity of play.

Oh, and Shanahan was not the person implicated in the violation, it was financial people in the front office - you know the "Fudget" people in accounting.

Leave it to a Pats Cheating Apologist to try to make the situations equivalent.

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:54pm

Andrew #520
I’m fully aware of the reputation that the Raiders enjoy and it’s obviously completely deserved. My point is that the reaction to the Pats behaviour is, to say the least, somewhat hysterical.

They broke the rules and were punished and I think the defence of “misinterpretation” of the rules by the Pats is at best unbelievable. When the fans use the defence, it’s just a case of denial, semantics or blind. Having said that, I just can’t get worked up over this. The fact that misinterpretation can be used as mitigation suggests that there isn’t a huge difference between what’s allowed and what isn’t. Again, this is not to condone the offence, just an attempt at perspective.

I just don’t believe that BB and the Pats are the Anti-Christ and everybody else in the league is a defenceless innocent.

My own opinion on why the rest of the league is not making more noise is that no franchise wants a root and branch investigation as I’m sure they all have a few skeletons in the closet……and no, I don’t have any proof for this, that’s why it’s my opinion.

Quentin made a great point in #486, what does everyone want to happen in the event of a senate investigation?

As to fans being entitled to a fair contest…Matt Millen anyone?

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:56pm

Will Allen #526:

There is no violation of the U.S. code here. Not even Specter is being that nonsensical.

Its not what BB did that is a violation of the code, but what the NFL may have done if it has not done the utmost to uphold its rules and ensure fair competition. If it fails to do this, it is committing business fraud.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:00pm


Quentin made a great point in #486, what does everyone want to happen in the event of a senate investigation?

I think people want the truth to be aired out and made public knowledge, instead of the 6 month old cover-up now going on.

And if the Pats are shown to have cheated in a way material to winning the Super Bowl in re the Walsh allegations, I think most people would think it just for them to lose the title and not have a title awarded that year, like was done by the league in 1925.

by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:05pm

#538 If that happens, then the Raiders have to lose the title from 1977 as they have admitted cheating on camera. You must then investigate every other Superbowl winner to see if they cheated/broke the rules at any time during their championship season. To do otherwise smacks of a witch hunt against New England.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:15pm

Baloney, Andrew. Again, by that standard, every NBA game played in the last 30 years or more is subject to Senate investigation. MLB, also, given how strike zone interpretation has violated the letter of the rules, in order to favor teams with power hitters over teams with good pitchers. The standard you are employing is absurd on it's face, unless you wish to state that literally thousands upon thousands of professional sports games over many decades have involved violation of the Federal Code.

Nicky, that simply is not a reasonable interpreation of that language, by anyone who purports to be literate. It is unbelievable on it's face, and it was that sort of insulting defense which caused me to advocate that an entire year's worth of draft picks be stripped from the Pats.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:17pm

Mr. Will, I already did tell explain to you several hundred posts ago a couple of my opinions re why it is in the interest of society that Congress should look into the matter of the joke of a punishment levied by Goodell on the Pats and the manner in which he went about it. You didn't like what I had to say, you levied the vitriol of your convoluted logic my way like you were doing in those days with varying degrees of laughability. You go on to say in your posts over and over again that others insult you first. The simple fact regarding this whole matter is that a Congressman is actually doing this, it may be followed by more, more may join him in his effort, and there is no major public outcry against it-only voices here and there on this talk radio or that internet thread. Personally, I applaud it and millions of others do as well. Now hopefully people like you will train your "get the government off our back" guns on Bush and company seeking to continue their ability to monitor our phones, e-mails etc. rather than you worrying about protecting the poor, victimized NFL commissioner and all those poor, victimized owners he represents.

by MCS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:23pm

The following is for amusement purposes only and any similarity to persons or events in real life is purely coincidental.

Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she's a witches.
Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] ... I got better.
Crowd: [shouts] Burn her anyway!

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:27pm


But she was a witch.

Later she says: "It's a fair cop."

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:51pm

Yes, RickA., you nonsensically put forth the position, without a shred of empirical proof, not one single word of evidence, that children would not be soicialized adequately if the NFL didn't enforce it's rules adequately. Well, you could also claim that Roger Goodlell is the antichrist and Specter the archangel Gabriel, but that doesn't make it true.

Now if you have some evidence supporting your claim, please supply it, instead of yapping pointlessly about George W. Bush's inadequacies, which have exactly nothing to do with this thread, or barking bout "conservatives" as if that has anything to do with this thread.

by cd6 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 2:54pm


I'd be content with the full knowledge of what went on. Regretfully it's clear that Goodell wasn't going to provide that, so I appreciate Specter stepping in. Having Belichick's and the Patriot's reputations as cheaters cemented for all time is the punishment that matters.

Beyond that, I could also see:
-Belichick banned for life from football
-Belichick, Brady, rest of thea team kept out of HOF
-One million dollar fine to Bob Kraft
-Patriots stripped of all superbowl titles
-Bill Simmons fired
-That stupid nonsense lighthouse symbol on Gilette Field's turf has to be painted over
-Rodney HGHarrison kicked in groin
-Belichick forced to dress like normal human being in whatever non-football job he next works

This is not an exhaustive list, obviously.

by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 3:40pm

Oh goody...I was wondering when PatsFan was going to go all "it's the media's fault" for why BB is a historical and wide-spread asshole.

I guess the media made him agree to the Jets job and quit a day later.

I guess the media made him bang married chicks.

I guess the media made him run up the score for his "f-you world tour".

Ya...he's an ass because he gives crappy interviews...that's the reason.

Your rationale. Beyond painful.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 3:46pm

cD6, re: 546: those are things you would LIKE to see, but I refute a point:

There is no lighthouse structure at Gillette Stadium nor is there a depiction on the field. What you have mistaken for is what we call the Zeke Moatt Memorial Emblem. Don't mess with it.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 4:10pm

Again Will, I can only answer your nonsense because it's a holiday. Unlike you, who is obviously able to sit at your computer each day for hours on end, I do have a life outside cyberspace. The fact is you are not the arbiter of what it is Congress should or should not do. Thankfully. You can only use your sometimes unreadable utterances as persuasion attempts and intimidation through insult to try and influence others. Right now you're not getting anywhere. Thankfully. The loudest mouth does not rule all the time in our society. Thankfully. Though slime the politicians may often be, the process is what counts. Right now the process is putting these people under the microscope for a change and asking relevant questions whether those such as yourself think so or not. Thankfully.
No one needs to provide "empirical evidence" that corruption in anti-trust exempted interstate commerce should not be questioned by the body that granted that exemption in the first place. No one needs to provide "empirical evidence" that the results of corruption has negative effect on society. Everyone knows that to begin with. Thankfully the pendulum may have swung the other way from those who wanted to protect, with the ever convenient mantra of "keep the government off our back", the big money interests who were granted this special status from a view into their house by those who granted it to begin with (Congress on behalf of us, of course) But we're just repeating ourselves here buddy. Have a nice life Will.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 4:51pm

RickA, dealing with the likes of you doesn't require much time or effort. Apparently you think it is possible to intimidate someone in a forum such as this, without nary a threat being communicated, and that labeling ludicrous, unsupported, notions as such constitutes an "insult", in the manner, for instance, when you call someone a "jackass".

Well, Rick, be assured that I feel no intimidation when you engage in such insults, because to be intimidated, one must feel threatened, and I feel no threat by being called a name by anyone, much less by the likes of an intelllect such as yours.

Look, I understand that you have nothing to support your extravagant claims regarding the deleterious effect on children that NFL rule breaking has, but that is typical of the type of scoundrel who invokes the moral education of children to justify every ridiculous notion he conjures up. You are very well qualified to be a United States Senator yourself.

by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 5:33pm

Thank you. You're not. Thankfully.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 5:54pm

Yes, thankfully, RickA, I'm not qualified to be part of that body. Now, THAT, would be an insult!

by Vern (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 8:08pm

I have to ask, even if the worst is established, and the Pats gained some competitive advantage. Whatever advantage you think filming gives you, is the claim that it's MORE than the advantage of using Steroids or other PEDs?

Yet, no one is saying the SF Giants MLB wins should be wiped off the records, or those of San Diego due to Meriman or even the Patriots games when Harrison played. Is there really a question whether steroids is far more of a practical advantage in terms of the outcome of the game?

Why is the outrage and suggested punishment for one type of competitive advantage treated so differently?

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 8:09pm

I'll never be a United States Senator *sniff*.

by BigHairyAndy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 8:21pm

I'm an infrequent poster who's very tired after literally five hours of reading through this discussion, so please don't eat me... but... can we please get one thing straight?

The Patriots were -not- disciplined for taping signals, stealing signals, using tapes, memorising signals, gaining an advantage from signals, or anything else to do with signals, theft, or the taping of other teams' coaches.

They, and Mr. Belichick, were disciplined for videotaping from a location in which they were forbidden to videotape.

In the NFL:
Stealing signals is fine.
Taping signals is fine.
Taping the other team's sideline is fine.
Using those tapes to prepare for games is fine.

Taping from the sidelines, however is not fine - whatever it is you're taping, it's banned. THAT is what they did wrong, not any of the other things people have claimed. Those are the real straw men in this discussion.

As an aside, it is very easy for any sane reader to see upon reading of the flow of this discussion why it has been given the title "Irrational" by the staff here. I say that without even referring to the fact that until this thread was created the Patriots spying saga was merrily taking over every single thread on the site - even those that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Patriots. I'm one of those people who is very grateful that Aaron and his staff sacrificed this thread to save the others. That last sentence was somewhat metaphorical, incidentally, and I would appreciate it not being savaged out of context like those of Will Allen in particular.

PS. I've never posted on a thread without a preview function before, so I've no idea if my tags are correctly formatted. Sorry all if they are not.

by Napoleon XIV (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 9:00pm

Re: #547

Well, Norman, apparently you've misplaced your reading comprehension (not surprisingly, I might add).

I didn't say Belichick is some saint (I sure as hell wouldn't want to work for him). I said that if he were a media kiss-ass like a number of other NFL coaches are, he could do all the other allegedly assholey things he already does, and you wouldn't hear word one about him being "unlikeable".

by RCH (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 9:45pm

Here is the funny thing about the braying of the senior Senator from Comcast - I'm sure that there are those in the NFL who would be happy to see the exemption go away (ie the owners of the big market teams). If NFL teams were free to make their own TV deals (the way that NCAA conferences do) the "ordinary fans" would ultimately be clear losers. The link in my name is to an excellent article on the topic.

As an aside, its pretty hilarious to consider the relative standing of the NFL, arguably one of the best run organizations in the history of the world, and the US Congress.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/18/2008 - 10:46pm


Don't worry your tags are fine, sorry to eat you but;

Taping signals is fine.
Taping the other team’s sideline is fine.
Using those tapes to prepare for games is fine.

Neither of the above statements are true. Both practices are/were illegal. That is why the Pats and Belichick got fined lots of money and a first round pick. Both are unprecedented punishments in the NFL.

by old (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 3:19am

Anyone else find it amusing that a Senator is getting involved in allegations that some Americans illegally spied on other Americans? Also, that the ones doing the spying call themselves the Patriots? Is that like rain on your wedding day, or what? Art imitating life, or vice-versa?

Ah, some days I love this cold and cynical world, and I love being cynical in it.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 3:38am

Wow. I had left this thread for dead long ago. Now, I check it a week later and find the same ridiculous arguments being endlessly restated in a thousand different variations, with internal contradictions galore.

With the exception of Will Allen and a couple of others, none of the posters on this thread seem to have even a rudimentary grasp of the concept of political theory, i.e. a unified set of beliefs about the proper functions of government.

If someone came along and offered, for example, a Marxist critique, that would be different. I wouldn't agree with it, but at least it would be a coherent theory, and therefore, it would deserve to be taken seriously.

The arguments here, on the other hand, aren't even sophisticated enough to rise to the level of an ad hoc pragmatism. Rather, they're just a random string of cliches and buzzwords that sound like what you hear during "man on the street" interview segments, or worse yet, in a soundbite taken from a politician on the stump.

I would have expected a lot more from the crowd here at FO. I guess the correlation between football knowledge and intelligence/education is not that great after all.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 10:31am

MC2, you've decided to cross everyone except Will Allen? He's the only one willing to throw down on politics at a moments notice, I think you're short changing yourself.

I have no interest in the abuse of government powers aspect of this case or the "Patriots as Nationalist" metaphors. And I don't think anyone is surprised that a politician is using his stature with ulterior or excessive or unnecessary motives.

I prefer leaving this case as it is for what it is.

However, if Belichick ends up with further punishment at the hands of the Senate Judiciary Com., I'll start an argument with you. Looking forward to it!

I would like to admit, though, that while I side with the sentiment that this issue isn't worthy of the attention it receives, perhaps we learn, besides the obvious "don't break the rules" lesson, how to act or react when a most serious issue comes up (to me, the serious issues in the NFL are gambling, PE Drugs, and security on and off the field). But I really hate digging through layers to justify behavior.
They filmed a couple of guys. There is an argument gap on both sides. Government and media sensationalism kicks in. There are no surprises here.

by BigHairyAndy (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 12:02pm


Relief to find that the tags are fine, at least. Having mastered HTML tags and proofread this post, I now really need to learn to use full stops more often instead of spamming commas. :-)

As far as my point, EVERYTHING I've read, including both the abriged and unabridged versions of the rule in this thread, has indicated that they were fined, not for taping the signals as seems to be under discussion, but for WHERE they were taping (the sideline) and that they continued taping there even after being explicitly told not to. If that's not the case, I'm curious to know why others who have publicly admitted taping signals are not being taken to task for it. I'm also genuinely curious to see where it's said that the taping itself was inherently the problem and not the location and blatant arrogance with which Coach Belichick commissioned it. I haven't read anything that actually says that, other than partisan posters (both sides are equally partisan, incidentally) on (irrational :-) ) threads like this one. Having said all that, I'm not naive enough to expect to be given all the answers either - or to expect that I'd like them if I got them.

As a longtime (well over a decade, in fact more than half my life) overseas fan of the NFL, I'm troubled by this becoming a moral/ethical "right to a fair game" debate when it need not be one - I just don't see how stealing signals one way compromises the integrity of games, but doing it another way doesn't (I particularly appreciated the Mike Shanahan quote earlier in this thread). Wrong in and of itself from an ethical "fair play" standpoint, arguably, but only in the same way taking a pass interference penalty instead of a touchdown when you're fairly beaten is - it's breaking a rule. The players still need to play the game. As for the "game without a prearranged outcome" definition espoused many posts ago, even with stolen signals, gamesmanship, deliberate holding out of the referees' view, and so on, it's beyond a stretch to suggest that the outcomes of the games are being prearranged. This isn't the often-cited WWE here.

One more polite observation before I'm done, this from a fan of the English language... You can't have a rational discussion where everybody's misquoting everybody else; it just doesn't work that way. Either stop misquoting people (Will Allen, for instance, though his invective is definitely plentiful, never even remotely implied that cheating is okay, or that he endorsed it. Never. Read back and check. Not once.) or don't complain when a thread's (correctly) labelled irrational.

Oh, and Jason (213 and others, but 213 specifically), you scare me. Seriously. A lot.

by Paul Casassa (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 12:51pm

From #451:

“Page 105 of the Game Operations manual says: “No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.”


“Video taping 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.”

Doesn’t sound like a technicality to me, but then I am not a BB apologist Patsfanboy.

The permission to videotape from an enclosed location that is not accessible is to allow the production of coaches tape and to allow the other team to be aware of what ia being taped and from what directions.

:: Andrew — 2/18/2008 @ 11:05 am

Sorry Andrew, your inference is incorrect.

It is altogether logical to interpret those rules to mean:

Provided the videotaping does not occur from the sidelines, coaches booth or locker room during the game, or from any other location accessible to club staff members during the game, video taping is not precluded.

From #480
The fail is strong with this one.

:: Football Jedi — 2/16/2008 @ 11:30 pm

Football Dope, seems more appropriate.

by Football Jedi (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 1:35pm

Good point Paul...because we all know teams routinely lose 1st round draft picks and are fined 750K for technicalities.

You know...technicalities that they were warned against by 3 different teams and by the league office twice (once in a league-wide memo, once in a Pats-specific memo.)

Enough. The Pats have taken their medicine without acting like whiny loophole-finding knuckleheads...why can't you?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 5:47pm

I've linked the latest update.
This article is written by Tomase, the same guy who published the first "Rams walkthrough" story with no sources or confirmations.
Just to ruin his credibility further, he walks on the other side, submitting a quote, inferring that Matt Walsh wants to lie and still have indemnity (look for the quote) but not backing it up with anything.

Point is that this Walsh story and the Rams walkthrough (still 2 separate issues) are a complete unconfirmed media fabrication at this time (If you read the Herald, you know it's one BatBoy picture away from complete tabloid).

by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 11:49pm


I'm not "crossing" anybody. I'm just simply pointing out the fact that the level of sophisticated, knowledgeable discourse on these boards, which is normally quite high when it comes to football, absolutely plummets into a deep abyss whenever politics is mentioned.

As for Will Allen, if he was making arguments typical of a high school dropout, I'd call him on it as well. As it is, though, he's actually making arguments that aren't filled with logical fallacies, which seems to be a pretty rare thing on this particular thread.

by RickD (not verified) :: Wed, 02/20/2008 - 4:03am

Just to reiterate:

1) Page 105 of the Game Operations manual is clearly written in a way that has a loophole that the Pats exploited for years.

2) The memo written in 2006 does not have this loophole. The Pats should have stopped videotaping at that point.

3) From all appearances, this guy Walsh is looking for a payday and has nothing to back up his story.

by Paul Casassa (not verified) :: Wed, 02/20/2008 - 11:25am

# 564

Good point Paul…because we all know teams routinely lose 1st round draft picks and are fined 750K for technicalities.

You know…technicalities that they were warned against by 3 different teams and by the league office twice (once in a league-wide memo, once in a Pats-specific memo.)

Enough. The Pats have taken their medicine without acting like whiny loophole-finding knuckleheads…why can’t you?

:: Football Dope — 2/19/2008 @ 11:35 am

The point, F.D., is that they got caught "videotaping" from a precluded location. Not that they got "caught" videotaping. My original post "whined" about the press characterization as being caught videotaping. It's a significant distinction. And while I think the penalty was overly harsh under the circumstances, so be it. I have moved on. Yet the story continues to be misconstrued and lives on.

by morganja (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:53am

Actually, Will Allen does not have a coherent political philosophy demonstrated on this site. He is pro-free market one second and totally anti-free market the next. He simply does not understand what a free market is and what it requires. Since he has apparently never bothered to study economics his 'coherent political philosophy' comes down to corporations good...government bad.

That is not a 'coherent political philosophy'. That is merely a person who has chosen to have unshakable faith in unprovable axioms and chooses to rage at reality and people when they do not share his arbitrarily chosen axioms.

This is exactly how Robespierre, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, the Shining Path, the Khmer Rouge and all those other movements which placed their faith in axiomatic Ideals, which to them represent the only one true natural order, reacted to those that opposed them.

I wonder, when I read Will Allen's posts, if he had been born in certain different times and places, if he wouldn't naturally gravitate to any axiomatic Ideal which provided him with simple answers, and that with his zeal against those who dare to disagree, gleefully order those guilty of 'wrong thinking' to the guillotine, for their own benefit, and the benefit of mankind.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 4:16am

morganja, you've already demonstrated you can't read, so I won't bother to inform you where you have failed to read entire paragraphs of mine which show the assertions in this last post of yours are entirely false. I will note the irony of you associating me with various mass murderers, when you are the person who plainly states that illegitimate violence is the expected response to getting one's feelings hurt.

morganja, you are a gold- plated whack-job of the highest order. Congratulations.

by GlennW (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 3:50pm

> Just to ruin his credibility further, he [John Tomase] walks on the other side, submitting a quote, inferring that Matt Walsh wants to lie and still have indemnity (look for the quote) but not backing it up with anything.

I read Tomase's article and saw no such inference-- only the (paraphrased) statement from Walsh's attorney Michael Levy that he seeks protection against being "accused" of being untruthful. In fact Levy explicitly states that his client will be truthful (and will only be protected under their proposal if he is):

“Under our proposal, Mr. Walsh is only protected if he is in good faith truthful,” Levy said. “And he will be.”

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 5:36pm

569: lol! Godwin's law!!!! you just automatically lost whatever argument you are in.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 7:16pm

Either my eyes deceive me, or the article was actually changed. The statement they used had no source, but now has more detail surrounding it.
The statement I was referring to is now attributed to Eric Holder, part of the NFL's outside lawfirm. Then it is followed up by a statement from Greg Aiello:
"'But his demand to be released from all responsibility even if his comments are not truthful is unprecedented and unreasonable,' the statement continued. 'The NFL and the Patriots have assured Mr. Walsh’s lawyer that there will be no adverse consequences for his client if Mr. Walsh truthfully shares what he knows. Why does he need any more protection than that?'"

Which is in contradiction to the statement from Levy. Awesome. Nice to know lawyers aren't playing nicely either.

- I don't think I misread the article, I think it was changed, but if I did misread, I was wrong. The reporting is more complete than I originally thought.

So we have the allegations of:
-Mega Corporate conspiracies with destruction of evidence
-Attention seeking politicians fist-shaking
-Media sensationalists running incomplete stories
-Attention seeking witness waiting for a book deal
-Outraged public
-Lawyers waging a newspaper quote war, paid by the hour and probably billing per quote

Bad Grisham novel, or American microcosm?

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 9:26pm

573: if its a website, go to www.archive.org, and post the link to the webpage into the wayback machine, and hit "take me back" and it will let you view earlier versions of the same webpage. Doesnt work for all webpages but works for a hell of a lot of them.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:22am

572 -

Come on, now. Godwin's Law doesn't mean that any and all references to Hitler and/or the Nazis invalidate an argument. It just asks us to be judicious in its use - not to overuse or misuse it.

I don't see where #569 overused/misused the Nazi reference.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 2:13am

Yeah, Kyle, ridiculing the notion that there is a compelling government interest in seeing that the rules of a football league are enforced does bring to mind German Fascism.

by old (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 5:20am

A little something for the everybody does it crowd:

New Claim of Taping Emerges Against Patriots
Published: February 22, 2008

Executives dismissed any lingering notions that the Patriots’ taping opponents was a common practice around the league.

“I don’t want the outside perception to be, ‘Boy, there are all these teams and they’re all doing all these things,’ ” said Rich McKay, the Falcons’ president and a member of the competition committee. “Because it’s not true.”

by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 10:36am

umm, for what it's worth Mr. McKay, of course you're not taping. We know you're not taping. You're not even taking the time to teach your team to run the ball. You're not teaching your team to pass the ball. You're not teaching your team to stop the run. You're not teaching your team to stop the pass. Why the hell would we believe you would take the time to scout legally or illegally when your team can't perform basic fundamental tasks?!!

(OK, I jest, but it helped me put things into perspective. I think I'd rather be a Patriots fan and just put up with the allegations.)

by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 10:44am

by the way, old / 577, the link has issues

by GlennW (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:09pm

> Executives dismissed any lingering notions that the Patriots’ taping opponents was a common practice around the league.

Roger Goodell made the same statement a long time ago, and I believe him (which is not to say that no one else has ever engaged in the onfield videotaping practice, just that it's not widespread). Still, thoughout New England the theme of "everyone does it" is pervasive.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:22pm

575: even relatively valid associations with Hitler and Nazis (which this is clearly a hyperbolic evaluation, which is the purpose of Godwin's law), can be viewed as an invalid argument because the true reason Nazis are considered to be bad is because of genocide and government propaganda related issues.

His statement is that Will Allen placed his faith in Axiom ideals, and so did the Nazis, even though the nazis placed their faith in completely different axiom ideals. This is like saying "Will Allen is similar to the Nazis because he wears red". Its true, but its a clear intention to invoke anti will allen sentiment by making a weak correlation with an evil government regime, and then simply allowing others to assume that the whoe genocide and propaganda follows.

in conclusion, clear violation of godwin's law, and although godwin's law simply states the probability of a nazi reference being used, and says nothing about the winning or losing scenario of the argument, the generally accepted rule is that whoever used the reference automatically loses the argument, and the thread is closed.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 1:56pm

I hesitate to remark further, given it's reached the point where my thinking is said (by a lunatic) to be analogous to Pol Pot's or Hitler's, but I will restate that the only axioms I've put forth are that there needs to a compelling government interest for a Senator to take action, and the enforcement of some of the rules of a football league doesn't meet the bar, and that it would be a very bad idea to put the state in charge of enforcing morality or norms.

Yes, rather similar to Bolshevism, that.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 5:04pm

There's no I in team and you can't spell "Axioms" without the word "Axis", nazi-boy!
OK I'm done.

by JMM (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 7:34pm

Re582 Will,

"...there needs to a compelling government interest for a Senator to take action,..."
To finalize my partipation and restate my thoughts....

Why? All actions are not equal in their cost, implications and consequences. A letter asking questions is much different that compelling sworn testimony. Should a letter asking a question be held to the test of a "compelling interest?" I don't take that as a given.

"...that it would be a very bad idea to put the state in charge of enforcing morality or norms...."

Allowing a senator to participate in the process, as a senator is not putting the senate "in charge" of enforcement. They should, IMHO, have a voice in the enforcing of morality or norms, just as we all should. I expect all society to play a role in setting "norms". I see no reason to exclude elected officials of any kind.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 8:30pm

Regarding Specter's involvement:

Are any of you really surprised that a senator would get involved?

We live in a country where your average American prefers reading and learning about Britney, Heath Ledger, Brady and Peyton. A large majority of people pay 99% more attention to E! or ESPN than any issues related to Iraq, the economy, the subprime lending mess, etc.

Isn't it fitting that our senators would act the same way?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 9:01pm

JMM, there is no such thing as a mere "request" from a United States Senator, any more than there is a mere request ever asked of a Major by a General, because the Senator, like the General, can seriously foul up the life or enterprise of the party that is having a "request" made of it. That's an unavoidable reality of military culture that is not desirable to transfer to private citizens and elected official, not if one wishes to pursue a nonauthoritarian society.

In such a society, people who wield the power of the state understand that such power undelies every "request" made of people who do not hold such power, and thus restrict their exercise of such power, even very informal exercises, to when there is a compelling need for it.

If a Senator wants to give speeches as to what constitutes virtue, great. If he wants to pass laws when failure to do so would pose a threat to society, fine. If he wants to make "requests" of private citizens, on matters that don't pose such a threat, then he is acting in a illegitimately authoritarian manner. Senators are not invested with the power they have so they can implicitly use that power to force private entities to submit to the Senator's will, without compelling need. Anybody can pretty much ignore the NFL, as long as politicians refrain from subsidizing it. Nobody can ignore a U.S. Senator.

The fact that the NFL was seen by many as being particularly uppity by taking several weeks to respond to Spector's letter speaks volumes. In a society which had the proper view of politicians, no person would expect such a letter, which did not pertain to any violation of the Fedetal Code, to receive any more attention than any other football fan's.

by old (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 12:12am

Again, (thanks for the tip off Herm?)

A little something for the everybody does it crowd:
New Claim of Taping Emerges Against Patriots
Published: February 22, 2008
Executives dismissed any lingering notions that the Patriots’ taping opponents was a common practice around the league.
“I don’t want the outside perception to be, ‘Boy, there are all these teams and they’re all doing all these things,’ ” said Rich McKay, the Falcons’ president and a member of the competition committee. “Because it’s not true.”

by MC2 (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 8:15am


I didn't say that Will Allen's comments "on this site" constituted a coherent philosophy. I said that his comments "in this thread" appeared to be based on a coherent political philosophy.

I have neither the time nor the desire to comb through the archives to see if any of the thousands of posts that he's made in other threads contradict the ones that he's made in this thread.

by RickD (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 1:18pm

re: 587
That's a poorly written article. It does not honestly address the fact that the rules in 2000 were poorly written. Citing Jeff Fisher to say that the rules are clear now doesn't really say anything about the state of affairs before the 2006 memo.

You would think reporters for the NY Times could actually bother to read the history of how the rules developed.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 2:14pm

Looks like Dungy's little toady Fisher needs to come down off his "nobody else does it" high horse.

by RCH (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 3:57pm

RE: 590 - What an outrage!! Since Jimmy Johnson has at least as much credibility as Matt Walsh I guess we'll be investigating all of these claims too, right Arlen? Or do we only check into the successful teams that no one likes? Check with Comcast and get back to us.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 10:11am

590. No wings for that article. Who wants to beat up on KC? Herm Edwards will never win a championship as a head coach in his lifetime. And those old Schottenheimer teams never won a SB...or are the vengeful Raiders and Broncos fans going to post about how their team missed the playoffs by one game, in a season with at least one loss to the evil Chiefs?!!! Where's the outrage!?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 3:28pm

Good post (from USENET):

The Pats broke the rule and should have been penalized. I
have no problem with that (though I think the penalty was harsh, I can
live with it) in principle. The only thing that really bothers me
here is the moralizing from other teams, other players, fans, and
media, when it's abundantly clear that all kinds of stretching,
bending, and yes, breaking, of the rules to gain an advantage is
commonplace in the league.

Nobody looks down on Paul Brown, even though he tried to implement a
radio headset into Otto Graham's helmet.

Nobody looks down on the great Dolphin run in the 70's, even though
the mastermind of that run, Don Shula, was hired in a way that broke
the rules, and the franchise was penalized.

Nobody looks down on the great 49er organization, even though they
circumvented the salary cap by illegally structuring the contracts of
Steve Young and Brent Jones (among others), and were penalized by the

Nobody looks down on the great Cowboy teams of the 1990's, even though
in the interview cited by the original poster in this thead, Jimmy
Johnson openly admitted to taping opponents' signals to gain an

Nobody looks down on the great Bronco teams in the late 90's, even
though they funneled money to John Elway and Terrell Davis illegally,
circumventing the salary cap - and were punished twice for it ($ and
draft picks).

Nobody seems to mind that the Jets, in the very same game the Pats
got caught taping, were also taping, just from a different location
(but even that location was against the rules.

Nobody seems to mind that one of the potential top draft picks came
out at the combine and admitted to holding and trying to hide it so he
could get away with it (he's an offensive lineman).

Nobody seems to mind that Herman Edwards - as upstanding a guy as the
league seems to have - cheated as a player by applying stick-um to the
insides of his cleates (so nobody would know), and he would dip his
fingers in there so he could make more interceptions.

All the things above are categorized as "hey, that's football", and
sloughs it off.

But everybody seems to think that Belichick is the devil incarnate and
that the remarkable achievements of the Patriots franchise is somehow
suspect because he employed tactics that are commonly used (according
to people like Jimmy Johnson) across the league. Why? What's worse
about what the Patriots did than these other incidents?

by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 4:01pm

> What’s worse about what the Patriots did than these other incidents?

I think the best argument here against the Patriots is that they engaged in a systematic illegal videotaping program over a period of many years, and even continued with the practice after multiple warnings. The mentioned salary cap violations may compare in their severity, but other practices such as the use of stick-um and the illicit hiring of coaches do not, in my opinion (remember of course that the league ruled against Belichick and the Patriots in his hiring when under contract with the Jets, and thus had to surrender draft pick compensation for that maneuver too).

I think the argument of "everybody else is cheating too" rings hollow in this case, but no, the matter doesn't rise to the level of requirement of Congressional involvement...

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 4:46pm

Could someone explain something to me? Honestly, I'm not being snarky, I just want to know why this issue has fallen through the cracks.

Why is no one talking about the Jets "illegal" taping? The Jets were caught taping this year, as well. That is undisputed. They were taping the game, and probably Patriots coaching staff as well, from the endzone, and indicated that this is a common practice for them. Mangini publically admitted it. They were taping from the end zone, not the sidelines, so Mangini claimed that it wasn't illegal because its only illegal to tape from the sideline, but now that we've seen the exact wording of the memo that's been being discussed in this thread, taping from the end zone seems just as illegal as taping from the sidelines.

So either we don't have wording from the memo and the rules right and it is legal to tape from the endzone, in which case the Patriots are being punished for a technicality of where the guy with the camera happened to be standing.

OR, we have the memo right and Mangini was wrong to be taping, too, no matter where his guy was.

So if this is the case, and any team is supposed to get a stiff penalty for illegally taping something, where's the Jets' penalty?

And if taping evokes moral outrage, where's the moral outrage against the Jets? I realize part of the answer is that the Jets haven't won three superbowls and set unprecedented winning streaks in the past decade, but do we only criticize cheaters when they are successful?

(The whole situation brings to mind the scene in The Sting when the big mob boss get's schooled in a poker game against Paul Newman, and exclaims afterwards: "He was cheating!" "So why didn't you call him on it?" asks an aid. "How could I call him on cheating better than I was???!!!" :-)

by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 5:36pm

MJK, that Jets' videotaping story proved to be much ado about nothing (the taping actually occurred in last season's playoff game, not this season). The league (i.e. Greg Aiello) explicitly cleared the Jets, stating that the taping location (far up in the endzone by the lighthouse) fell within the guidelines, and that the Jets had received permission to tape from that location (in fact both teams were permitted to tape there).

I've linked to the Boston Globe story on this matter, but the following was Aiello's statement:

"It is not uncommon for visiting team video crews to request permission to shoot coaching video from both upper end zone positions," spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Home clubs must provide visiting clubs with equal vantage points for the taping of games. Teams typically shoot coaching video from one upper 50-yard line location and one upper end zone location, but there are no restrictions on shooting from both upper end zone positions as long as the opportunity is provided to both teams. No permission is needed from the league office."

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 6:36pm


Thanks for the clarification. But how does that jive with the stated rule and the league memo that started this whole affair?

1. Page 105 of the Game Operations manual says: "No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." It later says: "All video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."

2. And, a memo from Ray Anderson, NFL head of football operations, to head coaches and GMs on Sept. 6, 2006 said: "Video taping 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."

The endzone positions that Aiello, while not explicitly prohibited, certainly seem to qualify as "locations accessible to club staff members" and locations that were not "enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead". It seems that teams did have permission to tape from these locations, so apparently there are exceptions to the "NO Videotaping rule", unless I'm misunderstanding something (if so please let me know). This explains why no punishment is leveled against the Jets, but it completely deflates any moral outrage against the Patriots based on the fact that they were videotaping, and it makes the rule and the memo are somewhat less clear and less final than many on this website and in other places have implied. (I.e. the memo and rule seem to state no videotaping is allowed of any kind, but apparently there is a commonly accepted exception of being allowed to tape from end zone positions as long as you get permission first.) Furthermore, if we are confused about when exactly video taping is or isn't allowed, because of this apparent contradiction between acceptable common practice and explicit statements in the rules and from the league, Belichick's defense of a "misinterpretation" becomes a little more plausible.

It also becomes clear that Belichick and the Pats weren't punished for stealing signals, or even for videotaping, as many have suggested, but rather for video taping from a position slightly different from accepted videotaping positions and failing to ask permission first. (And probably for Belichick telling Goddell what to go do with himself when this issue first broached...but we'll never know what happened behind closed doors).

by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 7:12pm

MJK, I don't really see any rules contradiction from a more practical point of view. It's been widely reported from the start of this affair that game taping is NOT illegal (I think we all knew about coaches' film), and that such taping is allowed to take place from fixed upper stadium locations from where the entire playing field can be captured on video. The only minor confusion with the rule in this specific instance falls around the strict requirement that the taping location be "enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead" (when there are no such enclosures in the Gillette upper endzones). The league apparently effectively waives this strict requirement when both teams are aware of the situation and both are taping from said locations, and that sounds pretty reasonable to me.

In any case Eric Mangini stated that no taping of coaching signals took place from these endzone locations, and likely none is terribly practical anyway from such a distant location parallel to the sidelines. I'm unconvinced by the technicalities of your argument though. I think we all understand the difference between standard game taping versus dedicated taping of coaching signals from the sidelines. And no doubt when he levied his punishment, Roger Goodell took into account the spirit of the rule every bit as much as the absolute letter of the law. (Hey, there's no roof over that camera! Therefore the opposing team can film the open sky-- rules violations! You get my drift.)

by JMM (not verified) :: Tue, 02/26/2008 - 9:34am

I can't put my hands around it, but the first dozen or so words of you post seem at odds with the remainder of your post.

See the linked article in my name for another view.

by Nicky P (not verified) :: Tue, 02/26/2008 - 5:37pm

From my post in another thread:

Re: The Boston Herald:

The problem I have is not the story, but the TIMING. When Spygate Part 1 occurred back in September, they were speaking of the possible existence of the taped Rams walkthrough on 890AM, ESPN Boston (The Mike Felger Show).

Tomase, the writer of the 2/2/08 “revelation,” is a frequent guest on the same show, and the two writers, Felger and Tomase, work together at the Herald.

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

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?