Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patriot Games

[ESPN link] NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has determined that the New England Patriots violated league rules Sunday when they videotaped defensive signals by the New York Jets' coaches, according to league sources.

Here's my take—if you are calling your defensive plays in from the sidelines with hand signals that your players on the field, the Patriots sideline and everyone in the stadium can see, I do NOT consider deciphering those signals cheating. Period.

If The Hoodie is smart enough to crack that code in real time and burn you with his offense—advantage Patriots, and quit yer bitching.

But, if they are using video to record and analyze those signals over the course of a game, at halftime or whatever, it's a clear violation of the "no recording allowed" rule, and the Pats deserve a harsh penalty. Draft picks sound fair to me. Hell, give 'em to the Jets. A forfeit might be too much—this isn't why the Jets got their ass kicked Sunday—the Pats ARE that much better (and as such didn't need to cheat). Though I will say, a forfeit would be a hell of a deterrent—but what is the penalty if the cheating team loses? Set a harsh policy tied to picks and hefty fines.

Oh, and I don't want to hear any whining about them doing this in the past. If the Packers caught them last year and didn't do anything about it they can promptly STFU about it now. That means one of two things to me—they can't prove shit, and thus didn't actually "catch" anything OR they did, but didn't take it to the League because they, and everybody else, are doing it too.

UPDATE: Deadspin says, "why they would do such a thing is another matter ... it's like Lisa Simpson peaking at Ralph Wiggum's test answers."

Also, thanks to 100 Percent Injury Rate for the pic, and this: "I expected this guy to be like a Nam vet using a camcorder and be under a camo grass tarp. Not lugging a huge camera less than 30 feet from the coaches he was not so secretly taping. The guy might as well have had a sign around his neck that said "Suck it Jets, I'm videotaping you assholes."

For the record, that photo seems to leave little doubt. Pretty much red-handed.


Toast said...

Though I will say, a forfeit would be a hell of a deterrent—but what is the penalty if the cheating team loses? Set a harsh policy tied to picks and hefty fines.

Belichick should be publicly forced to lick the sweaty underside of Mangini's nuts. That would be a deterrent.

Mike said...

That nearly made me hurl.

Mr Furious said...

I read somewhere that Belichick's punishment should be a dress code. Imagine Mr Flashdance dressed like Tom Landry on the sidelines?

angie said...

Are they stupid??! They deserved to be caught. How sad. What has sports come to. Such a bummer. Bye, bye draft picks. Hello, humiliation and ridicule.

Mr Furious said...

There was something I read about the Packers not pursuing the matter because of a "code of silence" on matters like this, plus the fact that they were beaten 39-0 (or whatever)...which leads me to believe this is not as uncommon as being presented here.

There's a reason catchers have different signs when there's a runner on second...why the pitcher holds his glove up to his mouth when in a conversation on the mound... why football coordinators and coaches hold clipboards over their faces when calling plays into the QB or up to the booth... football teams treat practices like top secret military research...lie about injuries...

They're all paranoid, and they're all spying. This seems to be a case of the Pats simply being too brazen about it.

Mr Furious said...

Here is a great article on this story. And it mentions a punishment I haven't seen anywhere else—suspending Belichick. Sounds fair to me.

Also, if it turns out they eavesdropped on the Jets radio frequencies, that's a whole other level of bullshit.

Chris Howard said...

I like Toast's idea. Public nut-sucking would probably nip this in the bud.

A few thoughts - everyone may do it, but I would rather see whoever gets caught suffer some penalty. I don't want to see NFL teams in some sort of technical arms race to see who can spy on who. If teams start tapping each other's radio calls then competition on the field is compromised.

Second, the Patriots clearly don't need to do this stuff to win games. They're not some borderline team. And why do it so brazenly? They seem to be so good at everything else they do these days, couldn't they tape signals a little more discreetly?

I would want the punishment to be a deterrent, but nothing devastating for sure. A couple of draft picks is probably the way to go.

Mr Furious said...

As I said over at Toasts' place, I'm coming around to the idea of a forfeit. Or a suspension of Belichick. This is a perfect opportunity for the League—they can hammer the Pats and make an example of them, but it doesn't undo a season's worth of games/outcomes.

If they forfiet the game now it is a one-game swing, with 15 to go, plenty of time for all parties concerned to move on with the season and play clean football.

I think it would be much more difficult to yank a game away from a team in December when it effects the playoof picture and has ripple effects beyond the team in question.

I like the deterrent of "you get caught, you forfeit the game." for an upper-teir team like the Pats. Of course that's not much incentive against a sucky team, just struggling to win—why wouldn't, say, the Lions take that chance?

Either way, set the policy and punishment now. If that means making an example of the Pats or Belichick, do it, but do it NOW.

Mr Furious said...

Interesting take in the comments at Deadspin:

"...how, exactly, does this confer a competitive advantage to the point of being "cheating"? I fully agree that there's a rule, and whether or not the rule makes sense, they done borked it and should be penalized. But...

(1) How can you "steal" a sign that isn't hidden?

(2) during a game that is televised???

(3) and is filmed from the pressbox by both teams???

(4) in a league where teams are required to provide game films to their opponents prior to playing?

Again, it's a rule violation, period. And punishment should be meted. But I consider myself a sophisticated, knowledgable football fan, and I cannot see how this could possibly provide a real-time advantage to the team under these facts. If it's a live feed to the upstairs coach's box, maybe I can see how a smart team could use the info. But the Pats were videotaping openly-visible signals. The only advantage I can see is that you don't have to dedicate a coach to observing the signals, which would be perfectly legal!!!!

I don't see this as cheating, really -- it's using a technological shortcut to do something they could have done manually. But again, the rules are the rules, and if you get caught breaking them you should pay.