Andy Kirkaldy: Pats’ cheating? Just business as usual in the NFL
Oh, those darn Patriots, dirty cheaters.
Haven’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate, when they were caught filming the Jets’ defensive signals (Really? The Jets? Seemed like unnecessary overkill.)
Used evil trickeration to defeat those nice Ravens a couple Saturdays ago, lining up a halfback as a lineman. The nerve of a team trying to fool the opponent’s defense.
And now, allegedly used underinflated balls to make it easier for St. Tom Brady to throw against Indianapolis in Sunday’s rainy AFC championship. Clearly that explains why the Colts couldn’t tackle LeGarrette Blount, catch kickoffs or get open vs. the Pats’ secondary.
OK, seriously, before we talk about whether any of this stuff is worth talking about, let me say I do not buy into “The Patriot Way” as being somehow inherently superior to the way any other team operates (other than the classless Ravens, but that’s a whole other story).
Team owner Bob Kraft once threatened to move the team to Hartford, started squiring around a bimbo who could be his granddaughter not long after his wife died, and approved the signings of a number of players of questionable character.
Tom Brady is a good football player. He is not a saint; he does have a child out of wedlock. The only Saints in the league play in New Orleans, and they haven’t been saints, because the team was busted for offering bounties for injuring opponents.
So the great Patriot Way is for the rubes. The Patriots do not enjoy any special moral high ground. They are just better at football, year in and year out, than other NFL teams. And they are the team I have rooted for since a friend shared one of his two end zone season’s tickets with me six times in the 1976 season.
Nor does the NFL enjoy any credits toward beatification:
• According to one study, 78 percent of NFL players either go bankrupt or experience financial crises within five years of retirement, largely in part to the average three-year career of its players and the rookie wage scale. The league could do more for them.
• 4,000 retired players are suing the league for improper care related to concussions and head injuries during their playing days.
• Refereeing is ridiculous and arbitrary, in part because the NFL is too cheap to pay for full-time referees, instead using part-time employees.
• Referees are not full-time employees in a league that made $9.5 billion in 2013 and paid its commissioner $44.2 million in 2012. Meanwhile, even cheerleaders have to sue for minimum wage.
• Despite the profits, the league plays in stadiums backed with tax money, one of the great rip-offs of modern times. Study after study proves public money invested in stadiums does not create economic growth.
• And the league is considered to be a nonprofit collective by the federal government and does not pay taxes. According to USA Today in 2014, “This has been the case since the 1960s when a deal was cut with Congress during the NFL-AFL merger.”
So, yeah, I’m shocked to see teams try to gain competitive edges in this environment.
But what’s the real story about the Patriots’ history of cheating?
This from a 2009 Examiner.com article, quoting former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson about taping other teams’ defensive signals: “I did it with video and so did a lot of other teams in the league … A lot of coaches did it, this was commonplace.”
BostonHerald.com also quoted Johnson about taping: “This is exactly how I was told to do it 18 years ago by a Kansas City Chiefs scout. I tried it, but I didn’t think it helped us. Bill Belichick was wrong because he videotaped signals after a memo was sent out to all teams saying not to do it. But what irritates me is hearing some reactions from players and coaches.
“These players don’t know what their coaches are doing, and some of the coaches have selective amnesia because I know for a fact there were various teams doing this. That’s why the memo was sent to everybody. That doesn’t make Belichick right, but a lot of teams are doing this.”
Or we could listen to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, who wrote after the Pats were taping signals against the Jets, the Broncos were suspected at one time of secretly videotaping Chargers practices:
“The San Diego Chargers increased their security several years ago at a hill overlooking the practice field at the team facility during weeks when they played the Denver Broncos. Why? It turns out Broncos coach Mike Shanahan had been hiring spies to videotape the Chargers practices. The NFL had been aware of it for several years (at least one NFL official had seen one of the tapes), but didn’t step in because it was considered a team issue.”
Pot, say hello to kettle.
Now, I don’t know if the Patriots deliberately deflated footballs to help their quarterback on Sunday. Given that officials handle the balls before each series, it’s hard to give the allegation much credence.
But it’s possible. The Pats have hardly been blameless in the past.
If so, sure just sounds like life in the NFL.
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