Pats coach receives financial slap on wrist
Last Sunday the New England Patriots shellacked the New York Jets 38-14 in a very lopsided victory. The Pats handed the Jets a solid loss.
Turns out the reason the Patriots did so darn well against the Jets is that a Patriots official was playing cameraman with several Jets coaches, filming the Jets' play calling and relaying that information to the Patriots coaching staff. Thus the Pats had advance, inside knowledge of what the Jets were going to do that play. And it's cheating. And it's very wrong.
From Yahoo! Sports:
The investigation was first reported by ESPN.com, which said that NFL security confiscated a video camera and tape from a Patriots employee during New England's 38-14 victory Sunday. The employee was accused of aiming his camera at the Jets' defensive coaches, who were sending signals out to the players, sources told the Web site.
"The rule is that no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game," the league said in a statement from spokesman Greg Aiello. "Clubs have specifically been reminded in the past that the videotaping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals on the sidelines is prohibited.
"We are looking into whether the Patriots violated this rule."
Yesterday the NFL decided how to punish the perpetrators of this crime. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pronounced his judgment Thursday night. The head coach, Bill Belichick, stood the most to gain from this activity, and therefore he bore the brunt of the punishment.
Belichick was personally fined $500,000.
The New England Patriots organization was fined $250,000.
The team will also lose a first-round draft pick in 2008.
While this is the biggest fine ever imposed on a head coach and the first time a first round draft pick has been taken away from an NFL franchise, this isn't enough. The NFL needs to hit Belichick where it hurts -- not the pocketbook, the playing field. Here's why this punishment does not fit the crime.
First of all, hitting Belichick's wallet is not justified. Sure he stood to gain lots through cheating, but not financially. His crime was trying too hard to win, and that's what should have been taken away: the WIN. The NFL should have awarded the win to the Jets, thus robbing Belichick of what wasn't necessarily his in the first place. (Sure the Pats were the far better team and could've won on their own, but that's a moot point now.)
Secondly, Belichick's actions directly affected the outcome of an NFL game. That's more than can be said for Michael Vick, who recently pled guilty for crimes surrounding dog fighting. Vick faces not only jail time but an indefinite suspension from the NFL -- but his actions did not directly affect the outcome of an NFL game like Belichick's did. Belichick, like Vick, should face some sit-down time, away from his team to which he gives his heart and soul. At least four games with no Pats contact would give Bill some cool-down time... and allow him to really think about his actions. (If allowed to contact the team, he could hypothetically call plays from his own living room via phone, etc.)
On paper, losing a draft pick would probably hurt the team in the long run, but the Pats already own San Francisco's 2008 draft pick from an earlier trade -- and that's a better pick than the Pats would have in 2008. The fine money is large, but Belichick makes several million dollars a year. He can pony up half a million if necessary -- take it out of the money he saves by not investing in a wardrobe.
Belichick's a good coach. The Pats are a solid team and did not need to cheat to beat the lowly Jets. (This Sunday's matchup against the San Diego Chargers was going to be a much bigger test.)
The punishment did not fit the crime. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called it wrong this time.