Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Take on "PatriotGate"

As a fan of a team that ran into a Patriot-juggernaut in Feb, the allegations/evidence that Bill Belichick cheats to gain an unfair competitive advantage is perturbing.

Let me make this clear: I do not think there will ever be any conclusive evidence that they did in the Super Bowl(s) {I just don't see anyone 'fessing up} and as for the Eagles-Patriots game in Jacksonville. That game, to me, hinged on the Eagles mistakes early with prevented them from scoring critical points. If the Birds had put the 14 points early when they had a chance. That furious fall-just-short late rally would not have been necessary. And those plays happened early.

That said, my respect for the Patriots coaching staff has plummeted. I'd always had that mystic view - Belichick is an awesome game-day coach - the Patriots make the best second-half adjustments of any team in the NFL. This video-taping incident indelibly taints that view.

So what should happen?
Well for one the view held by some on ESPN, notably Sean "the idiot" Salisbury, that this can be addressed with a $50,000 fine and then forgotten about is preposterous. That's like fining you and me $50. The man's a millionaire, the organization is worth over BILLION dollars, but 50 grand, whoa, that'll learn 'em. Asshole.

Mark Schlereth offered a very stiff penalty on NFL Live last night: Forfeiture of the Jets game, loss of draft pick, suspension of head coach. I think forfeiting the game is a bit much, though I have to admit, such a penalty would almost guarantee such an incident would no occur again in Goodell's era.

I think there needs to be a combination of punishment, both personal and organizational. Belichick runs the show, there is no way the taping was done with him unaware. And if Goodell is going to levy harsh punishment on players for their personal conduct detrimental to the image of the game, then he need to lower the boom on the REST of the NFL employees who do the same. I mean the Cowboys coach was suspended for 5 games for personal use of HGH. I think giving Belichick a month off to stew is appropriate. My punishment: 4-game suspension.

Organizationally, I wouldn't be as harsh. I don't necessarily think the players are as complicit and as Brett Favre put it: is it an advantage? Yes. But the players still have to go out there and block, run, catch, hit and tackle. I think losing a draft pick (not a 1, but not a 6 or 7 either) is appropriate. Losing a 2 or a 3 would really sting come next April.

Overall, Howard Bryant of ESPN is right: If Goodell does not act decisively, he will only confirm a basic truth about the commissioner-player relationship in all professional sports -- that he works for management. Of course, it has always been this way, the fiction is that the commissioner is anything but the collective employee of 32 owners. If he lets Belichick off easily, Goodell will be less Law and Order Commissioner and more Company Man."

No comments: