The New England Patriots were caught cheating. The rules clearly state that teams should note tape other teams in the manner the Pats did. The Pats did exactly that. This was after the NFL sent a letter to all the teams reminding them of the rule because of suspicions that the Pats had done that last season against the Green Bay Packers. The NFL fined the team $250,000, the head coach, Bill Belichick, $500,000 and took a draft pick away from the team (a 1st road pick if the team goes to the playoffs this year). John Clayton, Don Banks, and Peter King all weigh in on why it was not enough. You also have this from Dr. Z:
"Marinelli was the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay when the Bucs beat the Patriots in the 2000 regular season opener and did a good job controlling New England's offense. After the game the Patriots' offensive coach, Charlie Weis, was overheard congratulating the Bucs' defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin.
"We knew all your calls, and you still stopped us," Weis said. "I can't believe it.""
We will never know if Weis was being completely honest or just exaggerating for effect (i.e. whether they were cheating then or not) but the cloud will hang over the Belichick era of the Pats. If I were Norte Dame, I would take pause that is for sure.
The cloud that hangs over the Pats though does call into question their three Super Bowl victories under Belichick. ESPN is running a story on the Eagles who played the Pats in the latter's last Super Bowl victory and them questioning whether signs were being stolen in that game where the Pats had an uncanny ability to call screens whenever the Eagles were going to blitz. This could be just good play calling or it might be an indication of something else.
Lets take a look at those three victories:
2005: Pats 24, Eagles 21
Score going into the 4th quarter? 14 to 14.
2004: Pats 32, Panthers 29
Score going into the 4th quarter? 14 (Pats) to 10 (Panthers) The Pats won a field goal with 4 seconds left in the game.
2002: Pats 20, Rams 17
Score going into the 4th quarter? 17 (Pats), 3 (Rams) The Pats won on a field goal in the remaining seconds of the game.
All three games were slim victories. The first game was the only game that was not close going into the final quarter. Knowing the signals would be the difference in these games, especially when you consider two of those games all the offense needed to do was maneuver into field goal position.
That is not to say the did cheat but it does give one pause and why so many associated within the NFL are taking it so seriously. Such a level of cheating possibly determing who wins the Super Bowl is a big deal. Pro Football is a multibillion dollar business. This calls into question the outcome of who wins the champsionship. The largest sporting event in the US.