I guess I was naive for hoping that the Patriots’ Videogate scandal would end with commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment of Bill Belichick handed down earlier today. It looks like the buzz over this issue has only just begun.
Let me state straight away – I have made it clear on this blog many times before that I think Bill Belichick is a football genius. So I am admittedly approaching this topic being slightly sympathetic toward Belichick.
You know who the real loser is in this whole interaction? Roger Goodell. Because of his stupid “I’m the big sheriff in this here league” mantra from day one of his tenure, he’s put himself in a spot in which it will be impossible for him to dole out consistent punishments for all of the offenses members of the NFL commit from week to week. We already have a statement from Wade Wilson complaining of his own punishment now in light of Belichick’s. This is an absolute no-win for Goodell, because people are definitely going to compare this instance of cheating to all of the drug-related cheating charges going on, and yet suspending a quarterback coach and a head coach are completely unrelated; and it’s really not fair of Wilson to start pointing out percentages of salary that their fines represent.
The other thing that we can definitely plan on being inundated with are teams bringing up past playoff games in which they now speculate Belichick must have cheated. The Philadelphia Eagles are only the first in line. This is rather sad, not to mention annoying.
This scandal actually reminds me of my final high school football game. It was the the California Interscholastic Federation – Southern Section Div. VIII semifinal game. With most of the fourth quarter left, my team was rallying from a two touchdown deficit, momentum definitely on our side. Suddenly the refs stopped the game, having a conference with the head coaches. Apparently the opposing team’s coach was claiming that his headset was no longer working, and that the rules stated that both teams would then have to forgo the use of radio technology. Our coach explained to the refs that the rule only states that the home team must provide the visiting team with an operational radio; and seeing that we were the visiting team, the game should go on whether their headset worked or not. Miraculously, when this was explained to the opposing coach, his headset began working again.
As you can see, it’s my position that the opposing coach was trying to cheat. Did it matter? No. We fumbled away a punt and lost the game 27 – 13, and had the opposition succeeded in their dishonest plan, the score would have remained the same. My point is that occasionally in sports, we run across individuals who will do every little thing to gain an edge, honest or dishonest. But when the rules are set up and properly enforced, these individuals’ dishonest actions rarely lead to an impact in either direction on the game. The only mark that’s left is on their characters and reputations.
All in all, I think Belichick deserves the punishment he got. I’ll even admit that Goodell would have been justified in suspending him a game or two. I’m just tired of hearing the speculation over what could have been or should have been. When we look back on the Patriots’ dynasty (which isn’t over yet, by the way), this cheating scandal will be a rather small blip on the time line. If a dynasty could be built by videotaping opponents defensive coordinators, well, football would be a lot easier game than I’ve thought it to be, all along.