Let me say this up front: what the Patriots did was wrong. That is not in dispute here. Stealing other teams' defensive signals is definitely not something that professional sports teams should be trying to do, no matter what sport. This post is not meant to try and defend what they did.
But let's have a little perspective here please.
The outcry against the Patriots by everyone from NFL analysts to opposing coaches and players to the average football fan is, in a word, ludicrous. And in some cases, the height of hypocrisy. As usual, we can thank those hype-happy pricks at ESPN who have seemingly changed their format from all-sports to all-videogate.
Let's start with LaDanian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers. He has ripped the Patriots, calling them all cheaters and such. In his press conference this week, he went so far as to assert that the Patriots live by the motto "If you're not cheating, you're not trying". Hmm, it's funny that I don't remember LdT having a single negative thing to say last year when Shawne Merriman was suspended for steroid use. In fact, he defended him. I don't remember him saying anything negative about another teammate - Luis Castillo - who also tested positive for steroid use. Perhaps the Chargers live by the motto "If you're not doing 'roids, you're not trying"? Until you clean up your own house, do us a favor and shut the hell up LdT.
Let's talk about Terrell Davis, the former Denver Bronco who is now an NFL analyst. Terrell apparently feels that the NFL should ban the Patriots from the playoffs for two years. My what a short memory you have Terrell. When Mr. Davis played for the Broncos, they were known as the dirtiest team in the NFL. They routinely used a play known as a "chop block" which is one of the dirtiest things in pro sports. Player's careers have been ended by the Broncos' chop blocks but who cares, as long as Terrell was getting his yards, right? And did we mention that the Broncos were fined and had a third round draft pick taken away for violating the NFL salary cap rules and if I'm not mistaken, part of the reason was because they were illegally deferring payments to...Terrell Davis! I don't remember Terrell criticising his own team when they got caught cheating. So you can STFU too please Terrell, k thnx.
A common practice in the NFL is to bring in a player after he has been cut by an opposing then cutting him a few days later. They do this for one reason: to learn the signals and plays of the team he was just cut from. Once they have this knowledge, the player is let go. Is this any better than what the Patriots did?
So everybody is crucifying the Patriots now. Last year the Pats were involved in a similar incident in Green Bay which has been documented. In that incident, the same Patriot coach was asked to leave the sideline when the Packers suspected he was videotaping their defensive coaches for the purpose of stealing their signals. One may wonder why nothing was done at the time? Wonder no more - one Packer official admitted at the time that part of the reason they didn't make an issue of it was because "everyone does it". So why is it such a big issue now? I'll tell you why - because Eric Mangini is a sore loser with a big ego. Mangini used to be the Patriots defensive coordinator before leaving to take the Jets head coaching job so he knew all about how the Patriots operated because he used to be involved. After being spanked in back to back games by the Patriots, Mangini figured the only way to beat the Pats is to embarrass them. Well, you succeeded Eric. But I'm wondering why you didn't have a problem with the video taping when you were the Patriots defensive coordinator? Could it be because that's how you acquired YOUR reputation as a defensive guru which led to the Jets head coaching job? You're not innocent in all of this either. And what's more, you're probably the biggest hypocrite of all.
To all you Patriots haters and self righteous drama queens, I say this: the Patriots were wrong and should be punished but please stop all the wailing and gnashing of teeth and trying to claim that all of the Patriots' victories are tainted. This kind of thing is commonplace in the NFL and has been for years, in every era. The Patriots themselves were victims of it last year. After a game against the Miami Dolphins which they got spanked 21-0, several Dolphins defensive players openly bragged that they had stolen the Patriots offensive signals and play calls. It was a minor story for about two days then you never heard about it again. There was nobody accusing the Dolphins of being a bunch of cheaters, there was nobody calling for them to forfeit the game or be barred from the playoffs, there was no punishment or fines levied against them. So spare us the demagoguery and self righteous indignation. Give the Patriots a fine, take away a draft pick, whatever, but please...GET OVER IT.