Let's be real. As Ronde and Tiki said, everyone steals signs, and everyone knows it. But this is par for the course with the NFL. The NFL is, in my mind, the most cynical professional sports operation in the country. They and the folks at ESPN are concerned with one thing and one thing only: perception. So genuinely difficult, serious scandals, like the way the league and the NFLPA collude to completely screw former players, or the real problems with concussions and the attitude toward them in the league, just to name two, get very little discussion and the players who mention them smeared. But, to maintain an image as a serious, upright league, they go absolutely ape-**** over the scapegoat du jour. And this week, that's the Patriots. And scapegoating is the best explanation for it. It happens all the time in the NFL. For example, the best evidence is that the league has rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs. Every time a doctor is busted for distributed these drugs, numerous NFL players are named, almost always players who were never caught by the fig-leaf NFL testing system. And, predictably, those players are suspended, called "cheaters" by the folks in the media ... brows are furrowed and hands are wrung over the depravity of someone who cheats. But never mentioned or glossed over is the fact that, since these players were never caught, what does that say about the testing regime? And how widespread must the problem be for players to get caught this way? And it's not just HGH. This happens with steroids as well. So I call bull****. This totally manufactured controversy, fanned by jealousy toward the Patriots and a NY media being led by a team smarting over a trashing, is just another time for the NFL to posture and preen as some sort of arbiter of morals. And the intellectual pygmies in the media get to do the same, wrapping their puny brains around an "issue" that they can actually understand ("duh, they stole signs! They are teh bad persons!"). They get to put on their Tim Russert imitations and act, for a few days, like their jobs actually involve some kind of "issues" that actually matter. They get to act like what they see as the big shots in the news media that opine on war and pestilence. Wheee! Look at us, we's got gravitas! What a pathetic display. I got news for ESPN: you are nothing more than water-carriers for an entertainment project. You're no different than anyone writing celebrity profiles for Entertainment Weekly or a Leo DiCaprio fanzine. Get over it and stop trying to have a thought. You'll hurt yourselves. But, worse is the actual somber crap coming from the NFL, like they're doing anything but putting on a display for the benefit of the masses and their own image. Making a big show here is a performance, a simple effort to make themselves look like they're an active protector of the "dignity of the game." The fact that this is such a low-level, bull**** issue is a feature for them, not a bug. The more press this gets, the better the league looks because it seems like this is an example of the big issues the league faces, not anything serious. "Wow, they're really on top of things over there in the NFL ... that's not really a big deal, but they're coming down hard." That's the image they want to send. It's all dripping in hypocrisy and sanctimony. Look, I'm no "they can do no wrong" fan-boy of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots organization (outside of the players). I watch them to see the players play and to see Belichick coach, and I acknowledge other things the team does that I don't like as much. But in this case, they, because of who they are, are getting completely railroaded, sacrificed to the PR gods by a craven NFL/sports media machine. I hope they rub the NFL's faces in it the rest of the year, running up the score mercilessly every chance they get. Fans at Gillette should all show up with digital cameras on Sunday and point them at the Chargers bench. This is just such utter BS, and it's pure posturing and moralistic preening by everyone involved. Ronde and Tiki just haven't been in the media long enough to play along, yet.