It was the kind of story-book turn around that become legendary in the minds of the fans…
The Patroits were team whose ownership had changed often, from Sullivan to Victor K. Kiam II in 1988, to James B. Orthwein in 1992 and finally to Robert Kraft in 1994. They had never won a Superbowl, even with a coach destined for the Hall of Fame, but then in 2001, with new coach Bill Belichick and surprise star quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots completed a miracle season, winning Super Bowl XXXVI after a 5-5 start.
It was as if the cork was popped and the genie was out of its bottle! The next three years saw the Pats record at 9 and 7, 14 and 2, and 14 and 2 respectively, with two more Superbowl wins. The Pats with Bill Belichick at coach and Tom Brady at QB seemed an unstoppable machine, even if they dropped a game here or there it only by the skin of their teeth that they lost. Bill Belichick is hailed as the greatest coach ever and his place in the Hall of Fame is assured…
But a bit of tarnish was added to the Pats great success when, last November, the Green Bay Packers had an issue with a man wearing a Patriots staff credential and carrying a video camera on the sidelines at Lambeau Field. Packers’ director of public relations, Jeff Blumb said the Packers did not seize his videotape, and nothing came of the incident. But now the question was there… Were the Pats stealing calls?
September 9th 2007, the Pats had soared to victory over the Jets in a 38-14 spanking that made the Jets fans cry and the Pats fans laugh. But behind the scenes NFL security confiscated a video camera and tape from a Patriots employee. The employee was accused of aiming his camera at the Jets’ defensive coaches, who were sending signals out to the players. The camera was sealed, bundled and sent to the NFL commissioner for examination.
That examination is complete and the cat it out of the bag; the Patriots have been cheating. New England coach Bill Belichick was fined the NFL maximum of $500,000 Thursday by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals. The commissioner also ordered the team to give up next year’s first-round draft choice if it reaches the playoffs and second- and third-round picks if it doesn’t.
All the victories, all the championships, all the talent, all the skill, have all been tainted. Other teams and players are now coming forward to raise questions about the Pats almost supernatural ability to counter every play the defense called. None of the wins under coach Belichick can be looked at without wondering if cheating was involved. None of the Patriot players during coach Belichick’s reign can be looked at without wondering if they were really as talented as they seem. Did the best team really win Superbowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX? Is Tom Brady really one of the best QB to play the game? He was just a 6th round pick, after all.
Some of you may think I’m just playing doomsayer here. To you I ask but one favor; remember this post when Bill Belichick or Tom Brady comes up before the Hall of Fame committee; they have long memories and low tolerance. If I’m right about the taint of cheating forever following the Pats under Belichick then they won’t make it in the first time they are considered.