Have the New England Patriots ever earned a Super Bowl win? Why do people give Bill Belichick and Tom Brady the credit that Barry Bonds doesn’t get?
Your local New England Patriots fan will toe the company line that Spygate or “cheating” didn’t give them a competitive advantage. Then, why do it? Did steroids allow Barry Bonds to hit a curve ball better? No, but when he made contact it helped the ball fly over wall 73 times in one season.
I don’t hate the Patriots, Tom Brady, or Bill Belichick, but I refuse to forget that they cheated in achieving all three of their Super Bowl wins. Is it a coincidence that this franchise has never won a Super Bowl before or after their videotaping from 2000-2007? (They were busted in their first game of the 2007 season) I struggle to understand how a nation full of “respected” media writers that were appalled by the steroid era in baseball can sing in unison the praises of Belichick and Brady as possibly the best coach and quarterback duo in NFL history.
They were caught cheating!
All of their ultimate success came during that time frame. Yes, you can talk about their impressive regular season wins and the stats after “Spygate”, but not when you’re one of those in the media that always cling to the argument that rings equal greatness. The fact is that they have in fact won three rings, but they haven’t earned any.
Go back and read how upset so many writers were with this scandal back in 2007 and look how nonchalant they are about it now. The media was outraged. I guess time really does heal all wounds, but I didn’t know it erased facts from the past.
It seems that anytime someone writes something about Spygate, they automatically become labeled as Patriots hater or a jealous Jets fan. Let’s stop that notion cold in its tracks by taking a look at some quotes from a Boston writer’s perspective from 2008. Here’s what Boston’s own Bob Ryan had to say about Spygate.
“There can no longer be any doubt that he engaged in a practice he knew was against the rules.”
“The big question we cannot answer is how important it all was, really. Did his illegal practice of taping opponents’ defensive signals aid his team’s chances of victory in certain games by 20 percent? Ten percent? Three percent? One-10th of 1 percent? Not at all? No one will ever know.”
“They will be the team that broke the rules. Their three Super Bowls will be regarded as ill-gotten gain.”
“The sports community now associates the Patriots with cheating. The three Super Bowl championships are, and forever will be, under suspicion. The thought will never go away.”
That’s how everyone was thinking back in 2007 and 2008 and rightfully so. Where did that perspective go? I feel like a mad man running through the streets screaming like a modern day Paul Revere, but instead of warning the public that the British are coming; I’m reminding Americans that the Patriots cheated. It’s falling on deaf ears. Maybe the words from years past and another recent Super Bowl loss without the added benefit of knowing the defensive scheme may help your amnesia. Bob Ryan went on to talk about it in that article, how set in his ways Belichick was.
“After being warned about continuing his illegal practice in a 2006 game at Green Bay, he did it again in of all places, Giants Stadium, in the very first game of 2007. What kind of a statement was that? Was he saying “(naughty word) you” to Eric Mangini, a former ally who was now The Enemy?”
Why would he continue after the warning if there was nothing to benefit from the actions? Bill Belichick said that there was a misunderstanding of the rule. Let’s take a look at the rules to see where the Hall of Fame Coach-to-be became lost …..
The rule states…..
“Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant, of any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited, including without limitation videotape machines, telephone tapping, or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game.”
Still not convinced that Belichick knew that he was cheating? How about this memo that the NFL VP of Football Operations, Ray Anderson sent out in September of 2006 to every team:
“Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to the club staff members during the game.”
After reading that, if you are honest with yourself, you have to at least realize that Bill Belichick is one of two things;
- …. a cheater and a liar that knew the rules and didn’t care
- …. a Wesleyan education isn’t what we thought it was and reading comprehension isn’t Bill’s strong point. Look, Belichick is obviously not stupid, so that makes him a cheater, not only with regard to “Spygate” but as a football coach as a whole. Even his former players admit to his ways. Here are some thoughts from a 2008 Ross Tucker interview: Tucker told “NFL Live” that Patriots coach Bill Belichick will do anything he can “to get an advantage.”
An example that Ross Tucker gives;
“I had heard the Patriots did this before I signed with them in 2005 and I saw it firsthand during my time there. I asked veteran receiver Troy Brown about it one time and he responded, ‘every team in the league does that.’ I quickly let him know none of the three teams I played for previously had done so.”
Tucker went on. “Basically, the Patriots would put a player on IR, knowing it meant he couldn’t play in a game or practice with the team for the remainder of the season. By skirting the rules and practicing him anyway, it allowed them to develop his skills during the year. A side benefit is that they were also able to give some of the older players less repetitions in practice and therefore, additional rest.”
Roger Goodell destroyed the tapes saying that they didn’t change the outcomes of any of the games. There still those that cling to the hollow words Goodell echoed that was trying to kill this scandal that arose in only his second year on the job as the NFL Commissioner. He couldn’t take a hit to a three time, recent Super Bowl franchise, not after what he saw with the baseball scandal, so, he did what he thought was best. Pardon my French, but that’s’ all bullshit. Goodell knew the magnitude of what the tapes represented and their benefits. There is no reason to destroy evidence if there’s nothing to hide. In a letter to the Patriots Goodell even wrote and admitted, “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field.”
Roger Goodell knew that both the NFL and his legacy would take a hit, even though the cheating happened before he was appointed. I could lay out all of his calculated moves to nip this in the bud, but luckily ESPN has already done it for me.
Here is an outline from ESPN displaying a timeline that clearly shows Roger Goodell hiding the fact from the public that he knew the taping went back to 2000. Goodell lead the public to believe that the filming was done from 06-07′ and that was what the punishment was for. Then a few months later after a Senator Arlen Specter investigation it came out that the taping went back to 2000. Goodell says he knew this all along and that there wouldn’t be further punishment. He also finds out later that the Patriots were using guys on injured reserve for a competitive advantage, but says that they’ve paid a hefty enough fine initially, and again no additional punishment was administered. This timeline also displays facts about the tapes being destroyed immediately in Foxboro by league officials and Goodell’s soft excuses for destroying them.
The fines and punishment never sat well with me. The NFL took away the Patriots’ original first round pick in the following year’s draft, which was slated as the 31st selection overall. The Giants actually drafted Kenny Phillips as the 31st prospect, who was on the field to defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. The NFL fined Bill Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots organization $250,000. That is a joke! They cheated for seven years and were starting on year eight when they finally were caught. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in that time frame and made tons of money from new bandwagon fans off their success.
To put things in perspective, Roger Goodell fined Titans’ owner, Bud Adams that same $250,000 for flicking a Buffalo Bills fan the bird. Really? That’s like giving Babe Ruth the same punishment for coming to the ballpark drunk as you would for the Chicago Black Sox!
I’m sure Kraft probably paid Belichick’s fine. Thanks in large part to the Spygate era; the Patriots are now the sixth most valuable franchise in the world. Robert Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994 for $175 million and now their estimated value is $1.4 Billion. Even Dr. Evil would videotape defensive plays for that type of return. The punishment didn’t fit the crime then and it still doesn’t today.
Today’s crime however is far worse; the crime that’s being committed on the airwaves, newspapers, and Internet; the crime of asking if Brady and Belichick are the best ever and acting as if the seven years worth of cheating never happened.
It’s reported that a Patriots’ offensive player would study the film with the offensive coordinator and Bill Belichick and memorize the signals for the game and that the Pats would be able to anticipate three out of every four defensive plays. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. In October of 2010 the Denver Broncos were busted for filming the 49ers walk through. The video director at the time was Steve Scarnecchia. Steve was also a video assistant for the New England Patriots from 2001-2004. He’s the son of Dante Scarnecchia, the longtime Patriots Offensive line coach. The Broncos’ coach at the time was Josh McDaniels who worked in New England for Belichick from 2001-2008 and rejoined him this season, the week of the Patriots playoff game against the Broncos. (He was better than video that week)
People will still cling to the notion that the videos didn’t provide any type of advantage. They won’t admit that it may have given that little nudge to win all three of their Super Bowls by three points, or the lack of that same edge of losing the last two Super Bowls by three and four points.
Super Bowls for Belichick & Brady
- Patriots beat Rams 20-17
- Patriots beat Panthers 32-29
- Patriots beat Eagles 24-21
- Giants beat Patriots 17-14
- Giants beat Patriots 21-17
Everyone wants to praise Belichick for how great he got that poorish defense to play this year but no one mentions that he’s been in New England since 2000. Who drafted the defensive talent, who signed the free agents? Before we praise what he does with a lack of talent, shouldn’t we ask why he has a lack of talent? Like I said, I think he’s a great coach but we can’t look past his flaws. His most effective decision was to video tape the defensive signals. It provided with him three Super Bowl wins and has people asking if he’s the best coach ever. If he knew he could cheat, get caught, and still be held in high opinion, why wouldn’t he cheat? He also knew that if he understood the divisional team’s signals, that he could take that path to the playoffs yearly. It was brilliant… cheating, but obviously no one cares, so it was brilliant. After the divisional foes handed it to him his first year in New England, he had video to dominate them the next year and years to come. Then, he built a Blockbuster store full of video of the rest of the league and dominated them to. Here’s how he paved their path through the division after securing tape from the 2000 season.
Patriots Divisional Record
- 2000 - 1 Win 5 Losses
- 2001 - 4 Wins 2 Losses
- 2002 - 4 Wins 2 Losses
- 2003 - 5 Wins 1 Loss
- 2004 - 5 Wins 1 Loss
- 2005 - 5 Wins 1 Loss
- 2006 - 4 Wins 2 Losses
2011 is the closest they have come to having a Super Bowl caliber team in awhile. Belichick and Brady are both talented, but it was that extra edge that made them great. Without the edge, they’re not elite. People were ready to crown Brady the best ever if they won this game. Why? Because he cheated his way to three Super Bowl wins and then finally won one legit? This Patriots team wasn’t great this year. They had a matchup problem for other teams with Rob Gronkowski and an extremely weak schedule. They didn’t defeat any team in the regular season with a winning record, but ended up 13-3 with a first round bye. It was gift wrapped for them this year. They didn’t have to play in the first round, then they got a bad Broncos team, and to qualify for the Super Bowl they got to play a horrific road team, Baltimore, in Foxboro. After everything lined up perfect for the Patriots, it still took Lee Evans dropping the game winning touchdown and Billy Cundiff choking on a field goal for them to go to Indy to face a 9-7 New York Giants team.
I don’t expect to change anyone’s opinion with this article, because if you are still buying into Belichick and Brady as the best ever, then you either are a Patriots fan or too scared to step away from the mainstream opinion on any topic. Patriots’ fans still refuse to admit that the team cheated and instead pitch you their magic bullet theory on why New England went to all of this trouble and how it didn’t give them an advantage or how every team was doing this. Even if multiple teams were doing this, wouldn’t it be the same as multiple baseball players taking steroids? Wouldn’t you punish them all? And wouldn’t the one who benefited most (Barry Bonds) be the most scrutinized and punished? Bonds is an outcast because he was the home run champ and he won that by cheating. The Patriots were the only one busted for cheating in football and they won three titles because of it. Why do they get praise and yet Bonds’ name can’t be mentioned without a look of disgust?
New England may have won three Super Bowls, but they haven’t earned any. There was a comedian that used to answer people with a catch phrase to really obvious, idiotic questions. After he responded he would say, “here’s your sign” and it would be a metaphorical sign to warn people of your ignorance. For the people that still don’t think Belichick and Brady’s Super Bowl wins should be tarnished…here’s your sign * <—– (Extremely small Asterisk)
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Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock