I am developing an entirely different perspective on the tape episode. This may be lengthy, but I need to lay the groundwork for my point. What we are talking about is what Bill Belichicks job is. We can all agree his job is to win football games. In order to be the best, no stone should be unturned, and every effort should be made. This includes concept, action, and attitude. In any line of the work the most successful people approach very closely the line between conmly with and breaking the rules. What I mean here are the rules AFFECTING YOUR ABILITY TO SUCCEED, not being on time, harassing the secretary, etc. You could make a very strong argument that doing the best at a job involves coming as close to breaking those types of rules as possible, without crossing the line. That would also involve understanding, and INTERPRETTING the rules, so you can assess where that line is. Everyone is focussed on one rule. But lets expand this to some of the rules that you deal with as a football coach, or in BBs case the man in charge of all football operations. Here are a few examples: 1) Penalties. -What is pass interference? The best DBs come as close to interference without commiting a foul. Is this not entirely subject to how you interpret the rule, as well as pushing the rule to see what the ref will call? -Holding. It is common perception that you hold as much as you can get away with. -Illegal picks. The Bill Wlash offense was centered around finding the line between a pick play that will be called as a penalty and one that will not. -Cut Blocking. See Denver. They come as close to breaking this rule as humanly possible without crossing the line. -How about the recent trend of lining up quickly and snapping the ball before the defense is onsides? Clearly there are rules regardibng this. Teams push the rule and get away with what they can. Can you honestly tell me that snapping the football while the defense is still getting back across the line of scrimmage to get a cheap penalty is high moral ground to stand on? -In one game vs the Pats, Peyton Manning got a penalty for walking toward the sidelines and having the ball direct snapped to the RB. This is a clear attempt at deception. They walked the line of the rules, but crossed it. (I think the issue was he was under center first IIRC) Is it high morale character to try to trick a defense into thinking you aren't running a play? Clearly it is illegal, but there is a LOOPHOLE that the Colts tried to exploit, although they failed to do so. I could probably go on for hours here. But I think it is very fair to say that a great coach will teach his players to play right up to the rule, and push the limit of crossing it. You could easily argue that the coach with the best INTERPRETATION of the rule would do the best job of this, teaching his players to come as close to a violation as possible without a violation. Is that cheating? 2) Signing Free Agents -There is a specific rule to contact with free agents, with a set time that you can begin contact. There have been many cases where it has been reported there were off the record discussion before that deadline. Get caught its illegal, interpret the rule in a way that says OTHER type of contact, not specifically negotiating a contract, and you have a defense for potentially crossing the line. A great GM will manipulate the cap rules as far as possible without breaking them. Whether he breaks them or not depends on whether his INTERPRETAITON is agreed with. 3) Salary Cap -The art of cap management is pushing to the limit of the rules. Contracts are set up with phony years to drive down the cap number. The league rules on LTBE and NLTBE bonusses are clear, and the intent never was to allow phony bonusses to be added at a point in the season they are impossible to be reached, in order to push cap space into next year, but that practice is now common. Is this not "cheating" within the rules? If the first team to do that were investigated and there interpretation was found to be wrong, wouldn't they have broken a rule and cheated? A great GM will manipulate the cap rules as far as possible without breaking them. Whether he breaks them or not depends on whether his INTERPRETAITON is agreed with 4) Injury Reports. -We are very familiar that BB tells only what he is required to. To tell more would be doing a bad job, and reducing his chances to win games. Is he on the right or wrong side of the rule? Is he a good coach if his interpretation is within the rules, and a scumbag cheat if his interpretation is not, and he is told he must disclose more? A great coach will tell only as much as possible. Being further away from that line is not doing as good a job. Once again, the coach's INTERPRETATION OF THE RULE is at the heart of this. 5) Tampering -Without any question there has been tampering in the NFL. I would bet that the Jets illegally tampered with Deion Branch. Since whoever in the Jets organization that contacted Branch wasn't holding a video camera, it couldn't be proven. The Jets INTERPRETED the rules, and balanced the gain vs the chance of getting caught and sanctioned, and tampered. Was that a good job by the Jets? In terms of the resposnibility to the organization, the person who did it, found a way, within the rules (or at least there interpretation of the rules, and likelihood of consequence) to strengthen themselves by hurting a division opponent. This one is a little more tricky because its more a case of getting away with cheating that pushing their interpretation, but again, they used the rules to improve their franchise. Now the NFL creates a new rule that says "Coaches may not enter the field during play to talk with players for any reason including but not limited to any discussion that may benefit the player on the next play". Coach X reads that rule. He is trying to do the best job he can and win football games. HE WILL READ IT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HOW DO I ADDRESS THIS RULE IN A WAY THAT HELPS ME WIN MORE FOOTBALL GAMES WITHOUT BREAKING THE RULE. A great coach would push the limit of what he can do and still be within the rules. In this case, if Brandon Meriwhether blows a coverage on 3rd and long, the reciever catches the pass and goes out of bounds, so there is a stoppage in play. BB INTERPRETS that rule, and walks out on the field and instructs Meriwether what he did wrong, and how to handle that coverage in the future on 3rd and long. Helped his team, right? Did he break the rule? Possible by the intent of the rule, but (and I wrote it this was purposely) he could interpret that rule to say you can go on the field when play is stopped, and you can discuss 3rd and long coverages when the next play is 1st and 10. IF THAT REALLY WERE A RULE, AND THAT SCENARIO HAPPENED, DOING WHAT I DESCRIBED BB TO DO IS GOOD COACHING. NOT DOING IT BECAUSE A WEAKER INTERPRETATION SAYS IT MAY BE ILLEGAL IS BAD COACHING. Now we come to the camera episode. Here are some of the facts that matter to me: 1) BB says his interpretation of the rule was that this was allowed (keeping with the concept of this post, doing a good job means interpreting in a way you can stay within the rule, but not be hurt by it) 2) It was done right out in the open, there was no hiding, no cloak and dagger 3) It was done on the road 4) It was done against a coach who used to work for BB and is a division rival 5) Because of 2,3 and 4 you HAVE TO BELIEVE that BB either felt this was allowed or HE FELT IT WAS OPEN TO INTERPRETATION, AND HIS INTERPRETATION WAS SOUND. 6) The circumstances under which this was done would be akin to asking to be caught (guaranteeing it) if BB felt it was wrong. I see no set of circumstances where BB felt doing this would be judged as a violation, and he did it the way he did. If he believed that it would have been disgusied and hidden, not out in the open in front of the opponents security force, IN PATS GEAR, WITH PATS CREDENTIALS ON. I surmise that Bill Belichick wasn't cheating, he was interpreting a rule and doing what he felt was the most advantaegous action to him allowable under the rule. That is what he is paid to do. Ultimately, the issue is not cheating or breaking the rules, but doing a poor job of understanding the rules, be it due to ignorance, disregard, or ego. If we are going to wrap this up in a bow and call Bill Belichick a cheater and tarnish the accomplishments of this team, perhaps we must fine DBrickashaw Ferguson half a million dollars and take away the Jets first round pick for the holding that I saw in that game that he got away with and didn't get called. After all, he clearly knows the rules, and intentionally violated them. In the end, what is happening now is that those who have an ax to grind (and due to our success, and BBs personality there are quite a few) is sensationalizing and putting this issue in its worst light. Because one of the competitive advantages that every team looks for in addition to pushing the limits of penalities, salary cap, etc, is trying to anticipate what the other team is doing. While this is an accepted practice, somehow interpretation of what methods to do so are within or outside the rules has become the definiton, of character and cheating. It seems to me that all that has happened here is that one of the responsibilities of a HC was pushed to the limit, as all are and should be, and this HC improperly interpreted the rule, so THIS VIOLATION is cheating, but all of the other violations happening every day from the same perspective (trying to interpret the rule to allow you to do what is most advantageous to you without violating the rule) are not.