Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spygate lost its Sizzle

Well the other shoe dropped and it looks like the New England Patriots are in the clear. There was no gunman on the grassy knoll; Deepthroat did not have the goods on Nixon; the revolution will not be televised.

And that's how the NFL wants it.

Do I think that there was more to the story than officially reported?

You betcha. I suspect that Matt Walsh had some pretty convincing evidence that Belichick's scheming went well beyond what the NFL made public but if the NFL can impose million dollar fines it can also pay people to "lose" DVDs and "forget" pertinent facts. Roger Goodell doesn't want to have the stink of Spygate clinging to his league heading into another season, especially when the Patriots are the sexy pick the rule the AFC again.

The thing is, what Belichick got caught doing isn't exactly that big a deal. There are differing opinions among people who have actual NFL experience but the sort of cheating Belichick practiced is commonplace. Perhaps Bill put more stock in it, but any coach who claims that he never tried to steal a few signals is a liar. We can focus on the Patriots and say that they won Super Bowls by tiny margins that could have been influenced by knowledge of certain plays and signals from the sidelines but anybody who watches football knows that play calling is often predictable. There are nuances within the game that telegraph plays. These are professional football players who study game film in their free time, on any given Sunday 60% of the plays are known by the other team. Football games are not won and lost because of secrecy or surprise. Football is about execution. The best teams will tell you exactly what play they're going to run and beat you anyway. Any high school player can tell you that.

What kills me is Arlen Specter. He knows there's something fishy about how all of this worked out but he's too much of photo op whore to consider that it just doesn't matter. He's ranting and raving and threatening to form a Congressional Committee to dig deeper into this matter. Why? It's a game. Congress should have more important things to do. It's a moot point anyway. The NFL makes its own rules and can enforce the rules as it sees fit. If an owner, player or even a fan feels that the rules have been interpreted unfairly the only option is to file a lawsuit against the league. Belichick didn't break any laws, and Goodell is not obligated to justify his managerial decisions to Specter.

I'm not a big fan of the Patriots but I don't hate them either. Being a Cleveland fan I could have told you Belichick was a snake but he's not my problem anymore. I wasn't concerned one way or the other about the Super Bowl. Living in Central Ohio I guess it's nice that I don't have to deal with another thing Mike Vrable can brag about, but I was able to watch the Super Bowl and just enjoy the game because I didn't have a favorite. Ultimately I guess I like the way it turned out because the Patriots have to live with crapping all over their perfect season and the crabby Dolphins who make such a big deal about '72 will be dead before long. It's all good.

People who are upset with how this worked out should just stop watching the NFL. It's not like you can complain and Roger Goodell will act. As long as the revenue is there he'll continue to run things the way he sees fit. Of course if enough fans are willing to turn their TVs off this fall and do something productive on Sunday the revenue will dry up and Goodell will have to do something about it. But that won't happen. It's just one of those little things people carp about until they have more important matters to attend to. By November nobody will remember Spygate.

Except for Arlen Specter...he's got to have the face time.

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