Saturday, November 03, 2007

"The game is afoot."

That's a quote that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used when his character, one Sherlock Holmes, engaged in a mystery.

In this instance, I'm using to describe the mystery that is Bellicheat's Patriots. Here's a summary of what we knew up to a few weeks ago:
  • His teams are perennially good. To some degree, it can be explained away. But, the NFL is very cyclical, and one team does not stay at the top of the heap for more than a couple of years before they come crashing back down. That was true in the early days, and is even more true now in the era of free agency and salary caps.
  • The NFL is aware that Billy boy has a tendency to bend the rules as far as he can. They made specific rule changes to try and counteract that, and they sent notices about non-rule-related items to him in an effort to stop those as well (the videotaping comes under this)
  • He was caught videotaping, and then was trying to tell everyone he didn't know better.
  • He was asked to turn over all "materials" to the NFL, which were summarily destroyed
  • He was fined and the Patriots were fined.
  • And to most its "over"

    But, since then, more has happened:
  • Bellicheat has shown a reckless disregard for good sportsmanship. He has intentionally rubbed it in the noses of other coaches and other teams (some have argued that the NFL is fair and balanced and that if a team *is* that much better, there's nothing wrong with running up the score; they are WRONG and because good sportsmanship relies on you slowing down when you have a big lead)
  • There have been several lawsuits filed about the videotaping "scandal"...while the NFL will not comment on the materials they destroyed, the concept of discovery in a legal action will reveal all. The suits are unlikely to win, but they present an opportunity to ask questions that need to be answered.
  • The Patriots players have echoed the attitude of their coach and whined that they get no respect in spite of their record.

    ...and here's what I take away from all of it. The NFL has been riding high for a long, long time as "king sport." They haven't had any sort of a scandal in many years, while all of the other major sports have. I believe they are on the precipice of a very big scandal that will bring the sport crashing down to earth.

    But, the NFL doesn't want that to happen. Not with the overseas expansion plans. Not with NFL Sunday ticket contract coming up for renewal next year. Not with their fight with Comcast to charge more for their product (NFL Network). You can't have a scandal.

    I believe the NFL is going to try and continue to sweep this under the rug. I believe that they have already made an agreement with Bellicheat to step down at season's end, and walk away from the team and the sport. And in return, the NFL gets to avoid the scandal, and no one looks bad. And I believe the Billy boy's attitude of poor sportsmanship is the last hurrah if you will. He's being a bad sport to thumb his nose at the league.

    But....the lawsuits will prove pesky. The NFL will fight them at every turn, and try to get them dismissed. It may take a few years, but I suspect they will ultimately show some of the truth.

    And I have to believe that the truth is ugly. Why else would the NFL just destroy "evidence" of any kind?

    Who knows? Congress may get involved again, and threaten the anti-trust status if it turns a certain way.

    So, just what is the truth? I can only speculate. My completely unsubstantiated thought is that the Patriots have been cheating rampantly for the last several years. And it does taint their superbowls and their legacy.

    I guess we'll see.
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