Senator Awesome Bottoms
(Myrtle Beach, SC)
There is no doubt that a rule was broken by the Patriots and, indeed, they were punished. I am pleased that the Matt Walsh mumbo-jumbo is now put behind us, since what he had was nothing different than Belichick admitted to. I am a Patriots fan, but I've tried to keep a (somewhat) unbiased look at all of this.
First off, yeah, it probably isn't completely true that he misinterpreted the rule... in fact, the league warned teams of this before the season. And yes, because he knew this, he should be punished, and the entire team was accordingly. People may say that the punishment was light, but to be quite honest losing a first rounder is a pretty big deal. Just because they also made a great trade with the 49ers last year doesn't mean we should also tack on the number 7 pick, as well.
My issue with this whole thing is the ignorance that it goes on quite a bit elsewhere in the league. '"That type of sign-stealing goes on a ton in the league,'' said one NFL source who was both a former coach and player in the league.' This doesn't make it right, but it does in fact mean that the Patriots are this evil nemisis, doing so much worse than other teams in the league. Dick Vermeil said that it probably didn't make a difference in the games, and many other coaches/players have said the same thing. The most bitter people are those in the league who lost to the Patriots. So to suggest that Belichick should be kicked out of the league, or even punished more harshly than he was, is like saying a player who committs pass interference should be out of the game. He broke a rule that a lot of people break, but kick him out anyway.
Again, NOT an excuse. But, it is ignorant to say that the common nature of this practice (or similar type of practice) is irrelevant to the suitable punishment. We can debate on and on about whether they should have been fined more, lost more draft picks, maybe even a one game suspension. But if we get into much more than that, we are acting like this taping rule is a sacred, overarching rule. Which, by the comments of several current and former players and coaches, does not seem to be the case.
As a note, I'd like to link to this article: http://sports.outsidethebeltway.com/2006/12/dolphins-stealing-pats-signals-just-football/. People seem to forget that only about a year and a half ago, the Dolphins were accused of stealing cadences from the Patriots. Now, I am not equating this to the "Spygate" scandal. However, even the NFL has said "that's just football" (in reference to teams trying to steal signs and cadences). There was little hub-bub about that, and I don't really get the big difference.
As a Pats fan, I really don't even like how the NFL handled the case. It left too much open. But look at the facts - Matt Walsh's tapes have nothing extra than we already knew. Romeo Crennel said he never saw any tapes. No other former player or coach on the Patriots has seen anything like that. So we can conjecture that this was a conspiracy within the organization. But there have been disgruntled people within every organization, and the Patriots are no exception.
Why would not one person (besides Matt Walsh who, as I said, really had nothing additional) come forward? That's just how I see it. People need to put their hatred of the Pats aside and see that, yeah, they should be punished. But before we just assume this was the tip of the iceberg, people need to really just look at what has come out already, and realize that it isn't nearly the scandal it is made out to be.
I will change my opinion on ALL of this if more comes out, but like I said, i really don't see that happening based on the facts that have come forth already.