[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.