Why Do Those Who Don't Have To Feel The Need To Cheat?
...that, I guess, is the lingering question in light of the Bill Belichick affair in New England.
The Patriots are the closest thing the NFL has to a "dynasty" the past ten years, stocked with talent, led by a certain Hall of Fame quarterback and blessed with a system that allows for the replacement of various parts seemingly without missing a beat.
New England won three of four Super Bowls between 2002 and 2005, and are playoff fixtures. The Patriots became the poster children for all that was right and good about NFL football--a longtime franchise with stable ownership, a loyal regional fan base, players of good character, a coach who was his own man, right down to the scruffy sideline garb he donned before each New England victory.
Then cam Sunday.
The Patriots throttled the New York Jets, and it was shortly after the final gun that word got out about a sideline incident involving a New England assistant, his video camera, and the Jets' defensive signals it supposedly held.
We all know what happened in the days that followed. The question now: why did it happen?
Why would a coach as capable as Belichick, with a team as talented as his Patriots, feel the need to bust the rules? Not just ignore the rule book, but almost BEG to be caught by doing what they did in plain sight. Some are writing that Bellichick was almost asking to be caught.
The Nixonian comparisons are also being made--how could a President cruising to a second term and assured of a landslide in 1972 allow minions to kick the legs out from under his administration and set the nation on the course for one of it's worst Constitutional dilemmas ever? Having never been an overwhelming favorite to win either the White House or the Super Bowl, I can't fathom what goes on between the ears of a Belichick or a Nixon.
Tricky Dick's foibles had his backers saying, "Sure, he might've done it, but others did, too--he just happened to be the one who got caught." No one is saying that about the Patriots. If anything, fans are wondering just how dirty Belichick is, and how long this has been going on. Ask the teams New England dominated each season under his watch. Ask the squads the Patriots dispatched in the playoffs. Ask the Rams, Panthers and Eagles who now are all left to question just how legit their Super Bowl losses to the Pats were.
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy took the high road when asked about the incident involving the Patriots at Lambeau last season--a game New England won handily. The Journal/Sentinel wrote this week that, "Coach Mike McCarthy made it clear after practice Wednesday that he didn't blame the loss on anything but the Packers' lousy play and wasn't worrying about the outcome of the investigation."
Others around the league aren't being nearly as gracious--players are chirping, guys who played in New England or who'd heard whispers about the Belichick approach to games. It's no coincidence that this whole thing broke in a game against the Jets--a team who's coach is a former Bellichick assistant who left under less-than-pleasant circumstances.
I'm among those who don't think this is over--this is the NBA ref scandal on vitamins, a question about the integrity of a game and the character of a franchise billed as a model by whom all others should be measured. Get a further take by catching this MSNBC column.