Friday, September 14, 2007

Nation Lynches Pats & Week 2 Rolls On

The edict has been handed down, and the Patriots have been punished. So before I get to my picks this week, I have got to touch on Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots and "Cameragate." Needless to say, I'm a little torn when it comes to my favorite team and a cheating scandal, but I'm doing my best to keep an un bias view on the issue. That being said, I really don't see what the big deal is here. Did the Patriots violate a league rule? Yes. Should they be punished? Of course. Was their intent to steal signals during the game, and use that information instantaneously? No, and that's where I make my exception. Sure, you can call me naive, or a home town excuse maker, but just hear me out. Now, of course, if you could steal an opponents signals during the game and use them against them, it would be a distinct advantage, but I got some news for you.....It's already going on! Maybe the Patriots got caught using a camera to do it, but why else would each team have several coaches giving out phony signals, if they didn't think people were trying to steal them? The fact is, signal stealing is as much a part of football as it is a part of baseball. It's "frowned upon," but generally considered a part of the game, or gamesmanship if you will. Now, what the national media, and now several other NFL teams, are accusing the Pats of doing, is taping the signals, and using that information to their advantage during the game. Interesting theory, but here are some reasons that doesn't quite make sense.

-Each offensive player already has access to Polaroids of each play and situation that has already occured in the game. Therefore, if they've been listening, shouldn't they be able to match up the plays with the play calls?

-The QB, in this case Brady, only has access to his earpiece in his helmet until the play clock reaches 15 seconds. So, for the video method to work, the video guy would have to relay his info up into the booth, who would then have to match up that defensive signal with the down and distance of a former play where the same signal was used. All of that in 25 seconds, and that's assuming the defense has their personnel on the field, and their play called, right when the play clock starts.

-Those that have mentioned that it might be possible to burn the video onto a CD and watch it at halftime, obviously haven't been in an NFL locker room. There is no video equipment in there at halftime, and something like a TV would probably get noticed by someone, especially in a visitors locker room. Besides, don't you think these teams, in this case a division rival, already have plenty of tape on each other? I know, you're saying to yourself, "if they have all this tape already, then what are they doing with this extra camera to begin with?" And all I can say to that, is their just looking for another edge. Maybe one I don't quite understand, but an edge nonetheless.

Also, it's really interesting to hear all these other teams, like Green Bay and Detroit, coming forward saying they knew the Patriots were cheating, and had even caught them doing so in the past. Well, my question to you then is, why didn't you take more severe action? The only possible explanation I can think of, is that they were doing it too. I mean, why else wouldn't they report them? I don't remember teams coming out of the woodwork to accuse the Dolphins of cheating when they were caught last season using an "illegal" audiotape of Tom Brady's calls at the line of scrimmage. Why? Because the Dolphins suck, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, people are jealous of the Patriots, and want to tear them down.

Matter of fact, my sources inside the Patriots organization have told me that this practice is so rampant, that the Pats themselves removed three separate camera people from their sidelines last season, but did not report the violation to the league. Why? Because as shady and underhanded as this may be, it's an accepted practice! Let's even take this a step further. You think maybe this was an accident? No, I don't think the Patriots taped the Jets by accident, but maybe the Jets never meant to expose the Pats in this way to the NFL. Like I said, this is an accepted practice, no matter how sleazy, so shouldn't we figure that Mangini and friends were doing it too, or at least something along the same lines? So why would they want the cover blown off? Standard operating procedure, as I've been told by my people inside the organization, is to escort the guy from the other team (the camera spy) off the field, and be done with it. In this case, the Jet official, went over to the NFL official, and now we have all of this. You have to at least ask yourself, was it the Jets intent to catch the Pats in their spy game, or was it perhaps an over zealous or inexperienced security person who created this powder keg?

All that being said, it doesn't excuse the Patriots' actions, it merely diminishes the magnitude of their crime. Bill Belichick says they used the film in order to create almost a "DNA" of the coaches around the league, but that they only used the film after games and during off season training exercises. Again, call me naive, but that makes much more sense than this "magic bullet theory" whipped up by the media, and taken as fact by everyone with cable and the Internet. If it's illegal to tape the signals, then they are guilty as charged, but using them during the game, which would be a much more severe crime, just seems unlikely, and flat out inefficient.

I look at this issue the same way as dogfighting, which is to say, I wasn't surprised at all to find out it was going on. I mean there's a reason that all NFL teams have security around their practice facilities, and it's not to stop that guy from the commercials from hiding in a tackling dummy, and sniping their gear. Cheating is the norm, and while I'm not accusing every other team of doing what the Patriots did, I refuse to believe they are the sole culprits.

Ultimately, Bill Belichick was wrong to thumb his nose at the NFL, and the franchise deserves to pay some sort of price. Now in my opinion the $500,000 fine to Bill, the $250,000 to the team, and the loss of a first round draft pick is a little extreme, but I understand the sherriff/commish is all about sending messages these days. I don't think this reflects how serious he thought the crime was, as much as he wanted to continue his habit of coming down hard on any league rule breakers. So, call the Patriots rule breakers if you want, but to call them "cheaters," or to think that this has tarnished their image in any way, is just ludicrous.

Now that that's out of the way, it's down to the serious biz. Of course, by serious biz, I mean it's time again for me to front like I know what I'm talking about, and throw a couple picks your way. Naturally, amid all this speculation, I'm taking the Pats this week. Nothing gets these boys going like a little motivation, and there can't be anything much more motivating that being accused of cheating your way to a dynasty. That being said, I also may just be choosing them because I really don't wanna know what it's gonna be like if they lose the first game back after all this. Another interesting game to watch is the NFC North tilt between Detroit and Minnesota. The Lions were quick out of the gate in week 1 against Oakland, but they are the Lions, right? It's gonna be classic Motown right here when they totally kill all their momentum by dropping their home opener. The Bengals and Bears simply over match their competition this week, and while Cincy is a real big favorite on the road, the Browns are so awful, there's no way their slowin' down Caron Palmer and Co. My last pick, is the Rams at home against the 49ers. The Rams burned me twice last week, both here and in my survival pool, but I still feel good about them at home and in division. I know they took some lumps, losing Orlando Pace in a pathetic loss at home to Carolina last week, but I still like their chances this year, so I like them this week.

Week 2 Picks
Chicago Bears (-10) vs Kansas Shitty Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5) @ Cleveland Browns
St. Louis Rams (-3) vs San Fransisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) @ Detroit Lions
New England Patriots (-3) vs San Diego Super Chargers

Monday Night
Philadelphia Eagles (-7) vs Washington Redskins

Overall: 1-5-1 (.214)


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