Don’t hold your breath if you believe Bill Belichick will address the latest 10,000-word report on Spygate after the New England Patriots’ Thursday night opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The coach already gave his thoughts on the matter back in January, when the Deflategate scandal was just a pup.
“I mean, look, that’s a whole other discussion,” Belichick said. “The guy’s giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong, then we’ve been disciplined for that.
“The guy’s in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody (on the) sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again, and anything else that’s close, we’re not going to do either.”
We should all feel lucky Belichick addressed the eight-year-old story at all. It was extremely out of character for him to lash out and issue a statement about old news like Spygate.
As Belichick said, the Patriots already were disciplined for it. Belichick was fined $500,000, and the Patriots were fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick. But that won’t stop ESPN from dragging up the Spygate scandal from 2007 now that Deflategate is out of the news.
Before you read the “Outside The Lines” report, consider this: Taping the opposing team’s sideline still isn’t banned; only taping the opposing team from the sideline is illegal. Also remember this: Taping the opposing team from the sideline wasn’t banned until 2006, yet the report cites examples as far back as 2000.
ESPN released the report, promising connections to Deflategate. They reported “Deflategate is seen by some owners as a ‘makeup call’ over Spygate.” Goodell essentially covered up Spygate by destroying tapes and investigating for just nine days. Goodell had Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s backing, and ESPN implies the commissioner didn’t want to lose it. This makes sense. Goodell handled Spygate strangely.
Belichick and the Patriots long have been considered cheaters. Start talking to employees of other NFL teams, and some of the rumors about the Patriots’ cheating ways sound laughable. We’re nearly at the point when Belichick will be accused of employing spies in opposing organizations.
Some of the familiar rumors percolate in ESPN’s latest report: that the Patriots stole play sheets from opposing teams and playbooks from hotel rooms, and messed with communication devices. Of course, if this were true, wouldn’t it be more than hearsay? We all know the lengths that went into “catching” the Patriots deflating footballs before the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. We’re led to believe similar measures wouldn’t be taken if the Patriots were thieves?
Perhaps the funniest allegation is that the Patriots knew Marshall Faulk would return kicks in Super Bowl XXXVI, so they took measures by kicking into the corner?
“Faulk had returned only one kickoff in his career before the Super Bowl,” the report reads. “Sure enough, in the second quarter, he lined up deep. The Patriots were ready: Vinatieri kicked it into a corner, leading Faulk out of bounds after gaining 1 yard.”
Those tricky Patriots. Of course they knew Faulk would run out of bounds after gaining only 1 yard.
We’re two days away from the Patriots’ season opener, and we’ve gone from talking about Deflategate to Spygate. How great were the past five days when we were allowed to talk about actual football, not outdated cheating scandals?
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images