First off, I’d like to congratulate the Patriots on pulling off one of the greatest news dumps of all time. Announcing the Cam Newton signing mere minutes before the punishment for your third cheating scandal in thirteen years comes down? Absolutely brilliant. Whoever is running the Pats’ PR staff deserves a serious raise.
But why is it that every few years, the Patriots are under investigation for another cheating scandal? It’s like clockwork. First we hear of the alleged incident. Then we get reports that it was a minor infraction, and the punishment should be light. And the next thing you know the Patriots have lost more draft picks.
In case you forgot what happened (I wouldn’t blame you if you did) the Bengals found members of Kraft Sports Group taping the Bengals sideline for over eight minutes, with the Kraft employees claiming they were gathering B-roll for a “Do Your Job” special on a Pat’s advanced scout. The video of the incident was released by Jay Glazer, and it wasn’t pretty.
The Kraft Sports employee sounded like a twelve year old getting caught stealing a candy bar. He even had the audacity to say “I can delete it!” I mean, doesn’t that just scream innocence?
The Patriots were clearly punished solely based on their reputation. If the NFL had found a link between the taping incident and football operations, they would have certainly laid the hammer down and likely suspended Belichick. The NFL docked them a third round pick and a $1.1 million fine because the Patriots are seemingly in the principals office every other year.
What do I think really happened? Belichick didn’t order these random camera guys to film the Bengals sidelines, but they know to do so if they get the opportunity. I’d imagine Patriots scouts do stuff like this all the time. This time, they just got caught. Frankly, I think most teams bend the rules on little things like this constantly. It doesn’t give much of an advantage, but it’s definitely against the rules.
In comparison to other infractions such as the Falcons pumping in crowd noise, or Browns GM Ray Farmer texting staff on the sidelines, the Patriots were got walloped. But when you consider their history, the Pats probably got off lightly. If you want to blame someone, blame Belichick for creating their reputation.
The NFL could have easily laid down the law against the Pats as repeat offenders and sent a message that these actions won’t be tolerated. Even if there was no connection to football operations, why should the NFL give the Pats any benefit of the doubt? They have given them absolutely no reason to trust them. Luckily for Belichick, they decided not to.
Now I know everyone thinks the league hates the Patriots and that they just “hate us because they ain’t us”, but in reality, the league has probably under punished them in both Spygate cases.
Spygate 1.0 uncovered a lot of bodies that Patriots fans wish stayed in the ground. In fact, it was Roger Goodell who destroyed the tapes Belichick had recorded over the years illegally. Don’t believe me? Check this out. So next time you think “Goodell is out to get us! He just hates us ‘cause we win!”, keep that in mind.
Deflategate was mostly a witch hunt, and the Pats got royally screwed in the punishment, however the reality of the situation is that they probably did it. Brady destroying his phone? Equipment guys calling each other “the deflator”? Come on New England. Don’t be naive.
Belichick and Brady should have got out in front of it, admitted that they made a stupid mistake, and taken the slap on the wrist. Instead they went the “deny, deny, accuse” route, and it cost them a first round pick.
So lets face the music. The Patriots cheated. Again. It was stupid, and it probably didn’t impact wins or losses. But they did it. Was everybody else doing it? Likely. But they just got careless and got caught.
For the third time.
I’ll probably be writing another one of these in 2023 because these guys just can’t help themselves.
One last side note: In the past thirteen years, the Patriots have lost two first round picks, a third round pick, and a fourth round pick because of meaningless cheating.
Let that sink in. That’s basically a years’ worth of draft picks.
But somehow, someway, they just keep winning.