Sunday, January 13, 2008

Los Patriots

Its been a whille since I mentioned those old cheating Patriots. And, no, I won't let this die.

The Patriots have become the media darling and a fan favorite. Why, exactly, I don't know. Their coach is an arse. Their players are generally standoffish and aloof. Tom Brady may be a good player, but he still doesn't do anything outside of football. Except supermodels. And their fans have become impossible to deal with. Being 17-0 will make you giddy, I suppose.

I can't recall that happening in Miami back in '72. Yes, it was exciting, but the fans didn't go as crazy. Maybe it had something to do with the media hype around this team. Maybe its the us-against-the world attitude. Maybe its because ESPN is headquartered near the Patriots training camp, and they have a tendency to effuse the team in every way.

Last week, I heard Earl Campbell (who played for the Oilers in the 70s and early 80s) commenting that he thought everything the Patriots did was tainted, going back to when Bellicheat joined the team. He thought every superbowl win was tainted. He thought they should forfeit all their wins this season. That they should have been removed from the playoffs, as a result of their action. That Bellicheat should be suspended from the league.

And Mike Golic of ESPN (a homer who doesn't want to stir controversy, lest his job and his access to the Patriots be lost) thought Campbell was nuts, and what the NFL did was enough. Because the "punishment fit the crime."


Okay, so Billy boy has a penchant for playing to the rules, and bending them whenever possible. In some ways, that style of play reminds me of the Raiders of the 70s. Al Davis was notorious for encouraging his team to play just beyond the rules. And play a little dirty. He and the coaches (Madden, Flores) assembled a team that did things that raised a lot of eyebrows.

All the rules were pushed. And then there were specific things they did like Dave Casper swatting the ball forward so a team mater could recover it for a TD, and using stickum to help them catch the ball. And many of those things led to rule changes as a result. That was the only way to even the playing field again.

The Raiders dominated the NFL for a period of time. But, they were never respected around the league. Rather, they were reviled. Why? Because of the mean streak. Bellicheat signs smart players and tells them to play his way. The Raiders went after castoffs and guys with mean streaks and told them the same thing. And couple that with their off-the-field actions, and they were downright bad people (or so it seemed).

The Patriots don't come across the same way. But, they're doing the same things.

And that's what irks me. There is not a level playing field. Sure, every team could choose to play the same was as the Pats - right to the rules - but that changes the essence of the game.

The rules are there to get everyone to play the same, and keep the integrity of the sport intact. Instead, they flaunt their choice and roll over opponents. Maybe the spygate thing earlier this season was meaningless in the grand scheme of what it meant to that game, or this season. But, it underscores the Patriots desire to bend the rules, because they had already been told they could not do that. Billy boy simply said he interpreted the message differently.

And the fact remains that they had boxes of stuff related to videotaping opponents. Boxes. What were they doing with all of that? Creating a library to rival NFL Films?

And I wonder what *else* they have that gives them a scouting - or other - advantage?

The Raiders once were accused of not sharing game films with their upcoming opponents. This was before the age of videotapes, so teams had to exchange game films. They didn't. The teams all now have extensive libraries of scouting info. But what else do the Patriots have?

Someone once said "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." I guess our friend Billy decided to live by this mantra and tell his team that they can have it all if they play *his* way. And that works, I suppose.

Its kind of in your face, isn't it, that Billy commits this fraud, gets fined $750k, and has a first draft choice taken away, but still wins the coach of the year. That is not right. In fact, its absurd.

It just goes to show how much the Patriots have become that media darling...

A side note: I'm obviously a Dolphins fan. I respect the 1972 Dolphins, and like the record. But, I was never one to say "but we went 17-0 30 odd years ago, and therefore we're still something special." That team had character and characters. The current incarnation of the Dolphins bears no resemblance to that team. The Patriots can have that record; it doesn't matter.

This is more about what the Patriots are doing to the NFL on the whole.

And I still have *not* watched a single Patriots game this year. I've seen some hilights, but haven't bothered spending time watching them.

Bitter? Yep, because I don't like seeing my favorite sport go through periods like this. Back in the 70s and 80s you could create a dynasty of sorts because there was no salary cap and one team could be great. With the salary cap, how is that possible today? One would assume by cheating.
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