I'll be honest, I'm not so sure what to think about this one. Should I take the high road and just hang the Pats out to dry or should I take the low road and dig myself one hell of a hole. I'd much prefer to take the former but I'm being pulled towards the latter. The main reason for my gravitation towards defending the Pats is because I'm so biased. I can tell you for sure that if the situation were reversed and the Jets were filming the Pats signs (the questionable utility of such action I'll delve into later) on the Pats sidelines and the Pats got killed in that game, I'd be screaming bloody fucking murder. Fuck draft picks, I'd want the game forfeited and Mangini fucking fired. I wouldn't care what the fuck they were doing with the video or if the camera was even on. I would label the action as "cheating," I would want the cheaters punished and I would hold my team unaccountable for anything that happened during the game and would just chalk it all up to having fallen pray to a cheat. Yup, I would be completely irrational and rightly so because I'd be so pissed I wouldn't need A to lead into B. But since I find myself on the other side of the fence, I'll allow myself to deal with the situation a little more rationally (see what i did there?).
More than anything, the one question I'm confronted with when looking at this whole Pats cheating scandal is: What exactly were they looking at and what exactly were they doing with what they were looking at? Has that been cleared up? If so, someone let me know. I've received various explanations from "they were sending the 'signs' directly up to the Pats coordinators booth" to "they were taping it so they could look at it at halftime and for review for their next meeting with the Jets." Obviously, the more serious of the two is the former. Regardless of the utility of the evidence collected, if the Pats were secretly sending up illegal video of anything whether it be defensive signals or the women's bathroom, that is pretty damning and pretty weak. But if that's true, it raises a couple questions.
First, if the rule states "no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game..." how did the Pats get this guy past security, onto the field and then feed a cable up to the Patriots booth without anyone figuring it out? I understand that there's a lot going on on gameday and you can't have your eye on everything, but wouldn't the only guy without an "NFL Films" credential and who asked for the "plug that hooks up to the Pats coordinators booth" kinda raise an eyebrow even before he just stood there and shot your coaches for 3 quarters before someone said something to him? Not that that really has an effect on how anyone's supposed to feel about the situation. I guess I'm just curious how that occurred? Digression...
Second, if the worst case scenario is that the Pats are sending the defensive signals directly to the Pats booth who can get them before the Pats call a play and relay that information to Brady prior to him getting to the line, why is that any worse than a coach figuring out the calls from the opposite sideline and alerting his QB of those calls from there? I mean, if the real problem is the Pats coming into the information in a deceitful manner, aren't both sign stealing measures equally deceitful? I know there is a rule against videotaping and there is no rule against staring (and I'm still trying to figure out what value there is to videotaping the signs from the Jets sideline and forwarding those signs to the coaches. If all you're getting are the signs, wouldn't it be just as valuable for Tom Brady to stare directly at the D Coordinator as he flashed them in or to have a guy stand on the Pats sidelines with a pair of binoculars and watch? Plus, the entire reason you use signs as opposed to just shouting out your actual schemes is to get your calls to your playes without the other team knowing what you're calling, correct? Unless the Jets utilize actual sign-language for their calls, why would knowing what signs they are flashing be helpful? (unless the Pats are also cryptographers)) but unless the camera on the sideline is equipped with a Whisper 2000 (another device I would find just as helpful as a camera), I'm not sure I quite follow the utility of the knowledge.
John Clayton tried to answer my question:
What advantage could a coach get by stealing defensive signals?Not to beat a dead horse, but my question remains unanswered. If the "knowledge" of the defensive calls is the issue, why is it illegal to come upon that knowledge via videotape, through a hunch or via psychic powers (the explanation, not the answer, to that is that videotape allows for fast and easy sign stealing while the other stuff is much harder and slower, and it may just be a little more reliable than the psychic powers or hunch)? Apparently it wouldn't be against the rules for Tom Brady to figure the signs out himself and then tell people in a post-game interview that he figured out the signs and made changes on his own. Even thought the entire point of the rule is to prevent people from figuring out the signs. Again, it's against the rules so this whole pursuit is really just academic, but my contention remains that if you don't want people stealing signs, make the act of stealing them illegal, not just one means of doing it (I am really bullshitting here).
Any good coach with knowledge of the defensive play calls from the sideline can adjust his blocking schemes and come up with the appropriate counter measures. You've seen quarterbacks and coaches study photos of defensive alignments after each possession. If there is a way to pick up defensive signals, a quarterback can make the right audibles and get out of a bad play. Knowledge is everything.
Third, it's fun to pile on the best team and franchise in the history of organized sports because they are already hated, but come on people, do you really think this is the first time this has happened? You do? Think again:
A former Patriots video coordinator e-mailed to say what happened during the Jets game was incredibly common and not a big deal. To wit:Oh REEEEEEEEEALLLLLLLLY. Maybe that's why the Jets didn't make such a big stink about it in the first place. Of course this emailer did work for the Pats previously so that kinda implicates them even further, but what I like to take from this is what a lot of people kinda assumed, namely that this is relatively common. So the biggest deal for me is that the Pats got caught (stupid fuckers). How is such a well run organization the first team to get caught doing this shit? That's the part that really doesn't make sense to me. What also gets me is that the "Hey, it's not big deal because everyone else is doing it" defense is exactly what Barry Bonds backers use. So you can lump me right in with those assholes.
“I read your article with amusement about the Patriots camerman being nabbed at NY. Having worked in the NFL as a video coordinator with both the Pats and the Carolina Panthers, I can tell you this happens all the time. I was often asked by coaches to film opponents, usually during pregame warmups. I find it hard to believe that the Pats would be so brazen with it. We often had cameras hooked up to monitors that the coaches would watch in the booth. I never actually recorded anything, so as not to leave evidence! And I can guarantee you the Jets and everybody else are doing it too.”
Lastly, I think it's pretty clear I'm grasping at straws here. It's really hard to justify your team breaking a league rule in order to gain an advantage whether it be putting jet fuel in your Stock Car's fuel tank, flashing signs to batters from centerfield or sending fucking Nathan Hale across enemy lines to steal defensive signals when it seems so easy to do in a number of other ways. I definitely feel like the Pats were in the wrong here but I'm having a ton of trouble trying to quantify just what it all means. Are the Pats championships tainted? Probably not. Is the Patriots' teflon organizational image tarnished? Absolutely. Though to be fair, this kinda fits in with the unemotional and cut-throat manner with which Belichick runs the joint. If you asked players and fans what team would be most likely to pull this shit, the Pats would probably be ranked at or near the top of that poll. I guess though I personally have a problem with it and think it sucks that my team was the first to get caught, I'm not real fired up about it. They broke a rule and got caught. It's not like they put valium in the Jets' Gatorade or something. So you'd be hard-pressed to explain why the Pats were faster than the Jets and Brady more accurate. And there's also another side of the ball. Let's not forget that the Pats absolutely dominated the Jets on defense too. But I get the feeling I'm not convincing the Pats haters who read this. Probably never will.
So there you have it. The Pats are cheaters and the only reason they were a dynasty was through cheating. Makes sense. Wake me up when they finish the season 1-15. Check that. Wake me up when they win the championship again this February, bitches.