If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps we should just post this (check below the next paragraph) and save everybody the trouble of plowing through the remainder of this daily ritual.
That's what touchdown.org (which oddly doesn't feature anything else besides this photo) alleges to be the now notorious Patriots employee (alleged) filming the Jets sideline (alleged) in Sunday's win, which has since resulted in allegations of spying, cheating, and general sleaziness. Whether this photo serves as a "gotcha!" moment or is just a case of a turned-around cameraman remains to be seen. According to multiple reports, however, the cameraman in question was on the Patriots' sideline, which would indeed deem the follow photograph a moot point.
In any case, what we do know is the NFL is investigating the content of a videotape that security confiscated from the sidelines Sunday, with the suspicion that the Patriots were stealing defensive signals from Eric Mangini and crew.
"(Tom Brady) seemed like he knew what we were doing," Jets safety Kerry Rhodes told the New York Daily News after New England torched the Jets, 38-17.
Maybe that's because he did.
There's something to be said for grabbing every advantage that you can in order to win, and yes, that includes stealing signs -- within reason and within distance. But, if true, this just seems like it's crossing the line from competitive balance to unfair advantage. Is it cheating? I suppose that depends on how much emotional or financial baggage you might have invested in the New England Patriots. Who knows, maybe the person was just making a time capsule keepsake that Bill Belichick wanted to award Mangini someday when they mend their fences.
Know this though, if this were the Colts, Steelers, or Chargers who had these allegations made against them, Patriots fans would be livid and up in arms as games with that trio of opponents come down the scheduling line.
The videotape was reportedly seized, sealed in a box, and sent off to league offices, where it is assumed being investigated. If it's found to be a violation of NFL regulations (and really, what isn't these days?) the Pats could be disciplined in the form of draft picks or at the very least a good, stern lecturing from Roger Goodell. If the video folks were smart they would have attached a self-destruct mechanism to that puppy. In a perfect world, we here would do our best to find the tape and present its contents, but we could only show 45 seconds of it anyway.
"I think the Patriots actually live by the saying, 'If you're not cheating, you're not trying,'" Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson told the Globe's Bob Hohler yesterday in preparation for this weekend's showdown at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots figure to employ Google Earth technology to get a read on how Shawne Merriman pulls all those Last of the Mohican moves. "I'm not surprised because you keep hearing different stories of people complaining about stuff they do."
Lest we forget, this isn't the first time the Patriots have been caught with their fingers in the proverbial cookie jar. A similar situation involving a Patriots-credentialed cameraman arose in Green Bay last season, although the Packers did not confiscate the violating videotape, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"We asked him to put the camera away and he did. Then he went behind their bench and worked with their still video crew. He was not a pool cameraman," Packers spokesman Jeff Blumb told the paper. "It was just regarded as strange. There was no proof of anything."
Fool me once…
"It's not their first time," a member of the league's competition committee told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
"From what I can remember, he had quite a fit when we took him out," Packers president Bob Harlan told Mortensen. "We had gotten word before the game that they did this sort of thing, so we were looking for it."
Of course, here in a land where if you don't practice in the art of fawning over every move that Belichick makes you're considered enemy of the state, this is all much ado about nothing. "It happens all the time," they shouted on Pats-Jazeera sports radio yesterday. "It's just the Jets crying," went the fan message boards. "The Jets and the Packers? Really?" asked those who can't really figure out why the team would need to steal from inferior Green Bay and New York in the first place.
As slimy as the whole situation is -- and foam finger or not kids, it all seems pretty sordid -- let's not get out of control and credit Memorex for the success of Belichick or Brady over the years, though as I've already heard some national talking heads propose that. In preparation for Sunday's game, the San Diego Tribune's Nick Canepa writes, "It's doubtful the Pats used spyware during their stunning playoff victory here in January. Unless spyware can do things we don't know about. Unless it can drop passes and punts, create a dumb personal-foul penalty, fumble away a crucial interception and cause the head coach and his coordinators to make bonehead decisions."
True. But like the kid who gets busted in math class for having the answers flutter out of his pocket as he exits the room, the very same ones he either forgot he had or proudly decided to forgo in favor of going the honorable route, it's one more reason for the nation to dislike the ways of Belichick, whether it's true or not. And just like Rodney Harrison, for us to excuse the alleged actions only further spirals us into a pathetic state of sports hypocrisy, a sad state of affairs for a sports town -- once thought of as the smartest in the nation -- that now turns the other cheek instead of its attitude toward our heroes.
If the cameraman wasn't cheating, then just exactly what was he doing? Not to worry. I'm sure we'll get a decent answer of worth later this week from the always forthcoming Patriots.
"If it's true, it's true," Ellis Hobbs said. "Then obviously we're in the wrong. Like I said, I'm standing behind my team, my coaches, my personnel, our staff. I don't believe we do those type of things."
Now that's for the NFL to decide.