Former Steeler QB Mark Whipple said something that occurred to me immediately upon hearing that the New England Patriots were engaged in some nefarious business.
Here’s an excerpt from the Boston Globe (In NFL, stealers have edge – Mike Reiss):
Whenever he would speak with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Whipple
always held a large play-sheet over his mouth, something head coach
Bill Cowher insisted upon. He said he first learned such tactics while
coaching under George Allen in the United States Football League in
“This goes back a long time, with spies and being careful
about who was around,” Whipple said. “George used to talk about it in
his staff meetings, saying we’re not going to have anybody come in, or
have any information going out.
“I just always remember having an
interest in it, being a political science major at Brown, studying the
CIA and the World War, and how to collect information that could help
you. When I coached in college, I wasn’t as concerned about it, but in
the NFL it’s a whole another level.”
Given the military history of the Bilicic clan (er, that’s Belichick), this should come as no surprise. He was raised in Annapolis, Maryland. The connection is too obvious to ignore. Still, there should have been other traditions that precluded sinking to these depths. In New England, honor has yet to trump intelligence.
Belichick is being handled with kid gloves; clearly this Rabbit Hole issue is larger than the NFL or the MSM wish to contemplate. The press has yet to call Charlie Weis, Kirk Firentz, Nick Saban, Al Groh, Pat Hill, Scott Pioli, Jim Schwartz, and Phil Savage to demand an accounting…to demand they not plead the fifth and allow the court of public opinion to render a final decision. The press conferences at Alabama, Notre Dame, Iowa and Fresno State should be boiling, seething investigations of malfeasance. ESPN should be meticulously scrutinizing old videotape to make sure their latest hire, the Tuna, is not a party to this. Given Belichick’s military roots (of sorts), I’d like to see ESPN and FOX and others get a camera and a microphone in front of Bobby Knight and Coach K. Now is the time for investigation and repudiation in the harshest possible terms.
If Belichick is forced to get all Tricky Dick Nixonian and respond to inquiries about exactly when this practice began – and why anyone should believe that he taped the Green Bay Packers, but not the St. Louis Rams or Carolina Panthers or Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl – he will have a problem.
Belichick is in a logical quagmire that requires the suspension of disbelief. This is the same activity we engage in when watching sitcoms where the nerdy guy gets the girl or when watching action movies where the Black guy invariably dies the most horrific death (What are the odds Sam Jackson is shark bait?). The Patriots coach and his defenders cannot make a compelling logical argument based on the absence of evidence prior to last year’s Packer game. This is a logical fallacy and there can be no proof. There can, however, be doubts about each and every testament made by this coach about his ethics.
Belichick can no longer make appeals for belief based on his perceived pedigree or qualifications as an excellent technician. The very basis of his credibility is under close scrutiny. This coach received his credentials as a genius based on the notion that he was smarter, more intuitive, more diligent, and more creative than his competitors. Some of this may be true, but the extent of that truth is now at issue. Did the Patriots rise to the heights like Ivan Boesky? What is legitimate and what is not?
Belichick has lost all of his “bar cred” except among those with a vested interest in the maintenance of his iconic status: Patriot fans who bore witness to the first dynasty ever sustained on the foot of a placekicker; obsequious media types who genuflected at Le Shrine Du Hoodie; and those folks whose situational ethics require a defense of cheaters like Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus and the New England Patriots.
What will it take to clean up this mess?
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