By now I'm sure you all know that the Patriots are cheating bastards. They have violated league rules by videotaping defensive signals given by the New York Jets in last Sunday's "victory." This is surely not the first time they have done this, but it appears this time there is evidence to support the facts and now the commissioner will have to deal with it.
This is upsetting to me on a number of levels. First of all, the Patriots really are one of the best teams in the NFL. On an individual level, they outmatch just about every other team at almost any position. Everyone in that organization is really talented at what they do. They are the last team that needs to resort to spying in order to win.
If I'm a Pats fan, I'm even more disgusted by this. If I'm a player, I'm extra pissed off. Consider this response from Patriot cornerback Ellis Hobbs when the allegations first came out:
We put too many hours in as individuals and a team to have to go out and cheat. If it's true, obviously, we're in the wrong. But I'm standing behind my team, my coaches. I don't think we do that stuff.
Can you imagine how pissed you would be after making a statement like that in support of your team?
So hopefully Roger Goodell will come down with the harshest punishment possible. He has to. The damage has already been extensive and nothing is worse than damaging the integrity of the game. If we, as fans, can't be certain that everyone is playing on a level field, we're not going to buy into this game. And I love the game. I hate crap like this, even if it does confirm that the Patriots are the cheating cheaters who we always knew them to be.
The other frustrating thing is that even after the punishment is done, there's no way to repair the damage. I'm still upset that more wasn't done about Shawne Merriman. I mean, the guy gets busted for using steroids after winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and going to the Pro Bowl the previous year. So he gets a little 4-game suspension and is a starter in the Pro Bowl that same year? That is absurd to me. How can you support that? Jose Canseco, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds- these guys had their reputation and their legacy basically ruined by steroids and ruined the integrity of their game. But a hot Pro Bowl linebacker does the same thing and is as popular as ever. He's still endorsed by all the biggest corporate sponsors and is even lucky enough to be in the best NFL commercial so far this year. It's just not right.
The ridiculous thing in both cases is that neither team needed the extra cheating. San Diego still went on to have the best record in the NFL, even with those four games Merriman was out. And the Patriots should never have to cheat to beat the Jets.
The thing that scares me the most is this. Those two teams are the cream of the NFL crop. And which team has the best regular season record in the NFL since 1999? Yep. The Indianapolis Colts. It seems a bit naive to me to think they've done that without bending any rules. Personally, I don't think they have. I seriously believe that integrity and character is more important to this franchise than wins and losses. But I also know that sometimes the people you least expect, are the ones dirtying up the laundry.