December 11, 2016

Pat-hetic

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

The cat seems to have gotten the tongues of Chris Mortensen’s ‘league sources’ as the week has progressed, but that’s only cleared the way for some of the NFL’s biggest stars – including noted clean-livers like Brett Favre and Michael Strahan – to jump in on the hi-tech lynching of Pats coach Bill Belichick.

Also jumping on the pile were Hines Ward of the Steelers and Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, who just happened to find convenient excuses for their own past failings in the growing controversy.

Lastly, the group that believes it has been most aggrieved by Belichick – the self-entitled, self-important media both locally and nationally – has had ample opportunity to devote themselves completely to what has always been their highest priority: revenge.

Let’s review for a moment what we know.

According to this Wednesday report from the New York Daily News, the security staff of the New York Jets apparently stopped a Patriots video assistant and attempted to confiscate his video camera as he tried to enter the New England locker room at halftime of Sunday’s game in the Meadowlands. League officials and Patriots security were on the scene as well, and according to the report, an argument raged for as much as an hour before the NFL took custody of the camera and the tape contained within it.

Clearly, we can assume the incident resulted in a formal complaint to the league by the Jets. It’s hard to imagine we’d still be talking about this – and that league spokesman Greg Aiello would have made any statement at all – if there wasn’t.

Everything – everything – we think we ‘know’ from that point is based on ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (he of the ‘Vick Will Not Be Indicted’ stories this summmer), NFL Network’s Adam Schefter, CNNSI’s Don Banks and their ‘league sources’, who, when they aren’t floating in the bottom of a highball glass in the luxury suites of the RCA Dome, happen to serve on the league’s Competition Committee.

Aiello made a brief statement on Tuesday night following a Mortensen report that Commissioner Roger Goodell had found the Patriots guilty of recording the defensive signals of Jets coaches and could render a severe penalty to New England as early as Friday. The statement denied the Mortensen report and indicated that no decision had been reached. The league has remained silent on the matter ever since.

Unfortunately, few have followed their lead. Naturally, there hasn’t been a lot of distinction between what we ‘know’ and what we ‘think’, or in some cases, what we ‘hope’. Everything’s been in bounds this week, to the extent that NESN sports anchor Hazel Mae repeatedly referred to the NFL’s “decision” and the Patriots “guilt” in her Wednesday evening reports, though according to the league, no such decision had been yet arrived at, and no such guilt had been yet established.

But ol’ Mae was pretty restrained, when compared to most of her colleagues around the nation, and predictably, around New England itself. And as players began their work week yesterday, preparing for games this Sunday, some of the league’s brightest (or maybe dimmest) lights began to comment on the controversy, and in doing so, joined Mae and her brethren in attempts to save Goodell the trouble of actually taking the matter under advisement at all.

The verdict? Guilty. The Patriots organization is guilty of cheating their way to three world championships. Belichick, the center of the controversy (to the extent that he found it necessary to apologize to the entire organization on Wednesday), is guilty of chicanery over the last three decades. The players are guilty of leveraging an unfair advantage to successes they quite likely never would have achieved without it.

The only thing missing was a threatened lawsuit by the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

It has been pure hysteria, fueled once again by a muddleheaded mainstream media that has been jumping through its ass since the early 70’s just for the privilege of being called ‘Woodstein!” by Ben Bradlee. It has been pure farce, fueled once again by a thick tongued, barely literate mainstream media that would rather be first than be right, would rather be edgy than educated, would rather be recognized than responsible.

It has been shameful, fueled once again by craven opportunists who saw only the chance even a score and excuse themselves from the spotlight that Belichick and his Patriots had once left simmering on them, though through their actions on the field, and not in the court of public opinion.

So let’s take roll call, shall we? Because what goes around surely ought to come around. The media shouldn’t be the only ones schooled in taking a number.

First we have Brett Favre, followed quickly by Michael Strahan, citing serious concern about the ethics of the situation. Joseph Ethics, founder of modern ethics (okay I’m making that up), spun wildly in his grave at the comments of this odd coupling of philosophers. However, having seen their collaborative efforts in the past, William Irony, founder of modern irony, rested comfortably.

Next, we have Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers, an impartial observer, who immediately contended (for about the fiftieth freaking time) that the Steelers, and not the Patriots, were the real AFC Champion in 2001. Heard it before, Hines. Ward, all football player between the lines, is apparently a sniveling weasel outside them.

Next up is Jack Del Rio, coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who (just a coincidence I suspect) chose to reflect on his 2005 playoff loss to the Patriots and – given what we now ‘know’- raise his eyebrows over mysteriously malfunctioning communications equipment at Gillette. Jack stopped shot of mentioning the delay in that playoff game while league officials labored to correct the problem, before ordering BOTH TEAMS to put away the gear until it could be fixed. Del Rio, once a fearless NFL linebacker, has apparently morphed into a mouse – a simpering, excuse making mouse.

But the opportunists who thrust themselves under halos while dancing on the perceived grave of a superior rival were nothing compared to the media that leapt on this chance to get even with Belichick for never once kissing their ass, despite their antiquated expectation that they are entitled to nothing less.

The examples are too many to mention. My index finger is on the 15 day disabled list from all the links I clicked on (and then slammed shut) over the last four days. The common thread among all of them was the profuse use of “if its true”, and “they could” and “might be” and every equivocation under the sun, though in each case, the qualifier was quickly followed by harsh, brutal judgment that wasn’t qualified at all. In any respect of the word.

One that sticks out, though, was written by former Herald columnist Howard Bryant, now working for ESPN, the home of angry, sloppy drunk ‘league sources’. In a Wednesday column, Howard led the field, now crowded less than 24 hours later, by creating a sidewalk hustler shell game by claiming that unless Goodell came down on the Patriots, and hard, he would forever be branded a patsy of Patriots owner Robert Kraft. In order to be considered a strong and independent arbiter, Goodell had no choice but to dock the Patriots cash, draft picks, and even suspensions. If he didn’t, in the mind of Bryant, he was as tainted as the Pats are thought to be.

Bryant cries for justice while uncomfortably acknowledging, in a all-too-brief disclaimer, that it is still not known what, if anything, is on the tape that now sits in league headquarters. I guess it doesn’t matter, as Howard (who pithily compares Belichick to another Bryant, Kobe, he of alleged rape fame) has already decided the punishment. The evidence, in Bryant’s world, is secondary to the ‘statement’ he demands be made. A statement of fairness. A statement of justice.

Vigilante justice.

Closer to home, leading the way in their own ‘we know what’s best for you, and it damn sure isn’t Bill Belichick’ campaign, are the Seventeen Percenters on Morrisey Blvd., who saw fit to run a front page story, positioned above the fold, about how Belichick’s actions (as defined not by Goodell, of course, but by the owners of the printing press) have affected the youth of the six-state region the Globe ‘serves’. Lots of tales of abject disgust and disillusionment, as you might expect. This is the kind of thing that drives teens to despair, suicide, or even worse…..becoming Yankees fans. You have to watch that kind of stuff – that’s the next generation of Yawkey Way customers we’re talking about here. Who will speak for the children?

Naturally, the Seventeen Percenters summoned Mom, otherwise known as sports columnist Jackie MacMullan, to write a finger-wagging, tsk-tsk of a column that asked, plaintively, why? How about we start with ‘what’, Jackie? As in ‘what’ you know, today, as you write the column?

Ah, why wait? We know he’s guilty, even if Goodell doesn’t. After all, as Jim Donaldson said, it’s all in the delivery. We might be entitled to forgive a lovable rogue like Ron Meyer, regardless of his folksy transgression. But a surly despot like Belichick? Hang him, and while he’s twisting there, remind everyone – he brought it all on himself. He could have given us the access we wanted, filled out notebooks with every juicy, catty detail we craved, the respect we deserve, but instead, he dismissed us. Us! Us, who fill their stadium seats, us, who sell their merchandise, us, who buttress their charitable endeavors. Us, who MAKE them.

And Bill Belichick is the arrogant one.

Finally, I leave you this afternoon with a tidbit from Jessica Heslam, media reporter for the Boston Herald (which hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory here either, with its cartoonish photoshops and screaming headlines), who described the scene at Belichick’s terse meeting with the press on Wednesday:

One smiling, beat reporter sat with his laptop open with a picture of Richard Nixon in the background facing toward the podium where Belichick was speaking, according to a locker room spy.

Nixon, huh? That’s funny, I was just reading the Thursday article from a local beat reporter, and damn if he didn’t mention Nixon too. Come to think of it, he hasn’t always been friendly to Belichick or the Patriots. He seems like kind of a pain in the ass, frankly, one of these guys who seems to always be reaching for something to be negative about. Maybe I should just go ahead and name him, since he’s really made no effort to, you know, get along. What’s my incentive for waiting until I have some sort of factual basis to go on? I might be inclined to forgive this sort of thing – or at least defend the concept of due process – if he had just played ball a little bit. But eff him – he did it to himself. So here goes.

It’s……it’s……it’s pathetic, is what it is.

Comments

  1. Newsletter?

  2. Average Joe says:

    Once again the media has covered themselves in glory.

  3. I turned to the NFL station on Sirius this morning for about 1/2. While the hosts were taking plenty of calls about plenty of subjects, not one call about Cameragate. I assume it is safe to say that the only people who really care about this is the local media? And they are trying to beat it into a public that for the most part is willing to wait and see. For every joe on the street comment in a front page Herald or Globe story, I would like to know how may games/season these commentators watch? How many of the SB’s did they watch? How many players can they name on the roster? My guess is few, few, and Tom Brady/Teddy Bruschi.

  4. You know, one thing I wish I would have done is include this:

    Look, I don’t know if Bill Belichick cheated or not. I do know I wouldn’t put anything past anybody in professional sports, especially when so much has happened already, and so much remains at stake.

    I do know that if the Commissioner finds that the Patriots broke the rules, and in doing so gained an unfair advantage that helped them win games, I’ll be mightily disappointed. I’ll lose a bit of my admiration for the Patriots coach, and the countless games in which my favorite team prevailed will start spinning through my head, as I wonder whether I can believe in anything I saw. I’ll be angriest that people like Tedy Bruschi, Tom Brady and others will have all their accomplishments questioned, even ridiculed, even the ones the legitimately earned.

    Call me whatever you like, but I also know I’d rather not head down that road until the matter has been settled by the only one – not the media, not other players and coaches – who can REALLY say ‘the Patriots cheated’.

    And so far, he hasn’t said a word.

  5. Great addition Scott. Not that I think it was missing anything, but great addition.

  6. This should be required reading for kids in school. I can’t wait for this to be done with at 6:01PM tomorrow.

  7. Nice job, Scott.

  8. The MSM is trying to force the NFL’s hand with every story that purports justice should be….

    Borges claiming he didn’t ever like Belichick because he is a cheater destroyed my irony-meter. But when you put it in perspective and realize that Ronnie has never done anything wrong you can understand where he is coming from. Ron Borges:plagiarist

    There haven’t been enough folks, coaches and players, charging to the “…but we all do it” defense.

  9. Excellent article. I think the brutalization of the Patriot’s, the coaching staff & Robert Kraft has just been the most appauling part of this story. It has really shown a ugly side of so called class acts, like LT and others whom took it upon themselves to make disparraging comments about the Patriots – Comments coming from, the Steelers, the Chargers – how can people not detect an air of bitterness and the motivation of these comments. I can’t wait until Sunday night, so the Patriots can shut LT up once and for all. Thanks for writing and excellent article that can again make me proud to be a Patriots fan – even in these troubled circumstances.

  10. Average Joe says:

    I hope those comments keep coming Karen. I haven’t seen anything from the Bills or Dolphins who still have to play the Pats twice. Plenty of grousing from the Colts, Steelers, Giants and of course Jets. C’mon there are 10 teams on the schedule who still need to make some disparaging remarks and then get their a***s handed to them.

  11. Just seeing around the ‘Net that Channel 5 in Boston is reporting that the NFL will fine Patriots coach Bill Belichick an unprescedented half-million dollar individual fine (which cannot be paid by the team) and strip the Patriots of two “high” draft choices, possibly a 1st and a 3rd, in an announcement tomorrow.

    You can cheat a salary cap and win a Super Bowl, and lose but a third rounder. Somebody is in possession of a camera in the wrong area and its a half million bucks, a third, and a first.

    If Channel 5 is correct (and they may not be – they reported earlier this week that Belichick had been summoned to NY when he was at Gillette Stadium) then draw your own conclusions.

  12. Loved the great commentary Scott. Here in Nashville, the vengeful legions (Titans’ fans, bringing up once again the heated football theory) are calling for forfeiture of Jets game, one year suspension, giving up both 1st rd draft picks, giving up two home games, reduction of salary cap, any or all of the preceding. Amazingly enough the only radio personality here that hasn’t called for the Belichick’s head is a transplanted New Yorker, Thom Abraham

    Hopefully, when the ruling is released it will be nothing more than a violation for having the camcorder on the sidelines and filming nothing more than content for patriots.com.

    Go Pats!

  13. Well, Mike Lynch of WCVB in Boston is already reporting the Patriots will lose 2 first day draft picks and Belichick to be fined $500,000..he was reporting this almost as a FACT. I have no idea who his sources are….take it for what it’s worth I guess.

  14. New England coach Bill Belichick was fined the NFL maximum of $500,000 Thursday and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for videotaping an opponent’s offensive and defensive signals.

    Commissioner Roger Goodell also ordered the team to give up next year’s first-round draft choice if it reaches the playoffs and second- and third-round picks if it doesn’t.

    “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” Goodell said in a letter to the Patriots.

  15. jamesgarnerisgod says:

    I heard the Lynch thing, too. I have a lot of respect for Lynch, but anyone can be duped.

    Still, if this is true, it seems a bit extreme, to say the least. Half a million AND two losses of draft picks. For what, exactly? Videotaping the opposing coach? YES that’s a violation, but it’s not like breaking into a locker room, stealing and photocopying a playbook. The coach is clearly visible from the opposing bench and, while a camcorder would provide an advantage, vis-a-vis zoom lens and, obviously, recording, there’s no way that even begins to explain the Patriots dominannce.

    Now at least one Eagle is questioning how Brady was able to defeat their blitzes with screen passes in Super Bowl XXXIX. Here’s the reason … the NFC’s “best” isn’t even the third or fourth best in the AFC. That is, Brady and the Patriots beat the Eagles because THEY’RE BETTER THAN THE EAGLES. End of story. (Sorry for shouting.)

    Re: The other crybabies from the state of Pennsylvania, the Patriots rolled over the Steelers in 2001 because of special teams dominance — are there allegations that the Pats were videotaping the Steelers’ kick-return unit now?

    Hack del Rio? Here’s why your sound equipment didn’t work in the playoffs — it almost never works. Although, I suppose it could be that Belichick went to Phillips Andover and, you know, who goes to tony Northeastern prep schools but Freemasons, the sinister puppet masters of the world. It’s not at all impossible to believe that Belichick reached out to one of his brothers in the Illuminati — maybe some official in NASA — who could have arranged for a communications satellite to jam the signal transmitted from Del Rio’s headset to Leftwich or Garrard, or whoever’s ass we kicked, I can’t remember.

    Yeah … Google Bildberg Group, Trilateral Commission, or just log onto Coast2CoastAM … I’m sure the secrets to the Patriots skulduggery can be found in no time at all. Damn that Andover!

  16. So… if the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year, are they still cheaters?

  17. I know it sucks but I love the ruling, now let’s go and tell every one of these whiners to get their effing shinebox. It is so on….Norv is going to pee in his pants come Sunday.

  18. Well, the hammer came down. Looks like a bad decision by the head coach after all.

    Time to move on and make this all irrelevant come February.

  19. Jimmysandjoes says:

    I don’t know if it’s a fair ruling or not. But BB just f’d up here. Ray Anderson sent the letter on September 6th that closed the loophole in regards to not using it in the same game. Mangina got the sting going but the overt act of defying the rules was the bad move. Live and learn. But a huge price to pay for it.

  20. I live in SF, and know how it feels to take a beating from the righteous moralists who called for the blood of the hated Barry Bonds. If it happens somewhere else, you’ll shout to high heaven that justice must be done. But when it happens at home, it’s amazing how easy you find it to rationalize, forgive, or just plain want to ignore.

    How many of you reading this post were part of that cavalcade of abuse on Bonds? Have your feelings changed now that you’ve been dipped in the unholy waters of “cheating”?

    Sucks being in a position where you can be lumped together with Bonds fans, don’t it? I think everyone should feel that sting of humiliation. Just to keep you honest the next time you’re ready to crucify some other team or player as part of a national frenzy of self-righteousness.

  21. wow – i can’t believe those jerks said the NFL found the pats guilty…oh, wait a second – they did say that. Mortensen was right. Belichick did cheat.

  22. That’s the other Brad, not this Brad.

  23. I didn’t think so.

    Have your fun, other Brad. Nice of you to include our little board in your round of trolling tonight.

  24. Patriots coach Bill Belichick released the following statement tonight:

    “I accept full responsibility for the actions that led to tonight’s ruling. Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused. I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career.

    “As the Commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week’s game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.

    “Part of my job as head coach is to ensure that our football operations are conducted in compliance of the league rules and all accepted interpretations of them. My interpretation of a rule in the Constitution and Bylaws was incorrect.

    “With tonight’s resolution, I will not be offering any further comments on this matter. We are moving on with our preparations for Sunday’s game.”

  25. So who is the beat reporter who had the Nixon picture in the background?

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