Despite a $500,000 fine for the coach, a $250,000 dock for the organization, and the likely loss of a number one draft choice, there are plenty in the media who think that Patriots coach Bill Belichick got off easy for his part in spying on the New York Jets last weekend at the Meadowlands.
But perhaps nobody goes to the border of hyperbole more than the Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz, who writes: “What Belichick did — what he no doubt had been doing for years — was exponentially worse than Pacman Jones’ arrests or Rodney Harrison getting caught in a human growth hormone dragnet. This was a lot worse, because this kind of industrial espionage cuts to the heart of the NFL’s desire for competitive purity.”
Which seems to be the equivalent of saying Pete Rose is a worse human than O.J. Simpson.
“It wasn’t enough for Goodell to fine Belichick $500,000 — he won’t have to auction off his fashionable hoodies on eBay to come up with the cash — and to hit the Patriots for $250,000 and a conditional draft pick,” writes the New York Daily News’s Gary Myers, who pushed for a suspension. “It has absolutely no impact on this season, which makes this a penalty without much bite.”
It’s not just New York sour grapes either, apparently, as national writers such as Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and Don Banks, as well as ESPN’s John Clayton all believe the Patriots got off easy.
Newsday’s Bob Glauber is a lonely soul on a island in a sea of self-righteousness in writing that the NFL got it right: “Belichick can handle the cash part rather comfortably, because he makes about $5 million a year. But it’s the draft compensation that really hurts. A banishment of a game or two, or even three or four, might have seemed stiffer in the short term. But taking away a first-round pick (New England is a lock to make the playoffs) is a killer. The lifeblood of teams is the draft, and taking away such a high pick inflicts far more pain.”
This story has obviously reverberated throughout the rest of the NFL. Media members in cities across the nation are nearly unanimous in decreeing the penalty is not stiff enough. Some examples:
(Again, this is $750,000 total and a probable first-round pick.)
If the message is that the NFL is on equal ground with some no-name high school that forces its kids to forfeit a game for throwing a kegger, then sure. It fits.