Spygate: Isn't It Really About Character?
Roger Goodell has been on a character improvement mission since he ascended to the title of NFL commissioner about 18 months ago. He has made it very clear that players with off-field issues would be held accountable for their actions. This has met with nothing but praise from NFL fans countrywide. Most people feel that players like Pacman Jones should lose their right to play if they have engaged in less than honorable activities. Into this backdrop comes probably the worst on-field incident in NFL history, Spygate.
The New England Patriots were caught illegally taping other teams multiple times. They admitted to this and provided 6 tapes from the 2006-7 seasons to the NFL office in October 2007. The head coach Bill Belichick claimed he misinterpreted the rules. The commissioner said the Patriots gained minimal advantage by doing this. The team was fined $500k, the coach $250k, and they lost a first round pick in the 2008 draft.
It turns out he has engaged in this practice for 8 years. That translates into well over 100 games. It seems the videographers were told to be careful because the team knew it was illegal. Tapes were passed directly on to coach Belichick's right hand man. The coach purposely misled the public by understating the magnitude of taping. He lied to the commissioner by only providing 6 tapes.
He wanted to convince people this was a minor aberration, not a standard practice. It is clear the Patriots gained much more than just a minimal advantage from this practice or they would not have continued this risky activity for 8 years.
I don't think Patriots fans really understand how disgusted NFL fans outside of New England feel for what has occurred. This has forever tainted the Patriots reputation as an organization and as a so called dynasty. Patriots fans may say they don't care, but Boston is not the center of the NFL world. Ignoring what Belichick did will not make it go away. The ideal answer is for the owner to be proactive and suspend the coach, but don't hold your breath. No one says you have to wait for the commissioner to act. Integrity starts at the top of an organization. Players, coaches, and owners must be held to the same standards.
Now it is time for commissioner Goodell to try to bring this shameless episode to an end. If he were to hold the coaches to the same standards as the players there is little doubt what the punishment must be. Coach Belichick and other members of his staff must be indefinitely suspended.
This activity directly affected the integrity of over 100 football games. That is an offense that dwarfs the indiscretions of Pacman Jones. He was never accused any activity that directly affected the outcome of a single game. They say the punishment must fit the crime. If players can be indefinitely suspended for off-field activities, then that is the very least one should expect for on-field infractions.
Pacman Jones is supposes to have character issues. What about a person who cheated for at least 8 years, misled the public and lied to the commissioner? Indefinite suspension seems like it should be the bare minimum.
At the end of the day, isn't this about character, or in the case of Bill Belichick, the lack of it?
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By Mo Johnson
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