Radio Communication is the Real Spygate Issue
Good job with the article. You are performing a public service for all REAL football fans.
The allegation most assiduously avoided by the Patriots and the NFL was the one regarding the Patriots use of an alternative radio frequency (compared to the one specified by the NFL) to communicate between the coaches and the quarterback. As “following the money” opened up the Watergate investigation, “following the radio frequency” might be the same in Spygate.
The NFL pre-assigns a private frequency to each team so that the other team cannot hear the communications, but more importantly because they want to monitor such team communications for any other evidence of cheating or unauthorized use of the radio system (eg, only one player, the QB, is permitted to have a receiver in their helmet).
The fact (unsubstantiated, but heavily rumored and traced to individuals close to the Patriot organization) that the Patriots were communicating on another frequency (unavailable to the NFL) was key to the concealment of their scheme for stealing the other teams defensive signals AND communicating them to their QB.
The conspiracy of silence around this allegation, after it was reported several times (including Chris Mortensen of ESPN) even PRIOR TO Spygate, seems to confirm that the NFL was covering up what was really happening. They were in a perfect position to substantiate and follow up on this violation of NFL rules in many games, yet it seems as if the Patriots use of their own frequency was dismissed as a technical snafu or team preference. Also note that the NFL's radio frequency was disabled 20 seconds prior to the the start of each play to prevent last second communications.
This radio communication angle really needs to be explored much more deeply and exposed. It makes the videotaping violations all the more egregious, since the electronics gave the coaches much greater leverage to benefit from their cheating.
When I see many of the silly comments, usually from Pats fans, that say "Everyone was taping or stealing signals", I have to smile at their naivete. Maybe everyone was stealing signals, but everyone wasn't tampering with radio frequencies and it was exactly that violation that placed the Patriots cheating in a unique and much more dishonest context.
Also, who really knows what else was being done with the frequencies if the Patriots had successfully dodged NFL surveillance on the assigned frequency? Of course this is speculative, but could they have been eavesdropping on their opponents electronic communications? I suspect that this is unlikely since the communications would have easily been encrypted, but if they were not properly encrypted, the NFL would have another poorly managed process as a reason for their defensiveness and a possible cover-up.
Until this is fully aired, the public will have no real confidence in what has happened and Senator Specter will be dragged into the cover-up himself.
I know of two national writers who plan to follow up specifically on this aspect of the investigation if it’s not properly addressed. There are eerie parallels between this matter and the baseball steroids scandal where league officials conspire silently with the real offenders in protecting the IMAGE of the game. Somewhere in the process, the INTEGRITY of the game is forgotten and left unprotected.
If someone living in Pennsylvania sees this posting, please forward it to Arlen Specter's congressional office. His site does not accept email submissions from out of state citizens.
You might assume that congressional staffs properly prepare their representatives for public hearings, and already have figured this stuff out. However, if you watched any of the Clemens hearing, you'd see that Senators and reps are busy people and come into such hearings notoriously ill prepared. They frequently overlook the correct and incisive follow up questions.
For more, see Spygate: More Radio Communications Issues and Kraft in Hiding.