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The stupidity of the 'cheating' argument

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AndyJohnson, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think that everyone who has said anything on this topic would agree that Bill Belichick is a very smart football coach. I think that all would agree he considers all angles, and prepares for everything.

    The naysayers are proposing, in essense, that the Patriots have been stealing signals and somewhere between maybe and probably using them to their advantage, and all agree it was widely known, or even if not known every team knew that teams were trying to steal their signals.
    The nuclear winter scenario is that the Patriots won games unfairly because they knew what the other team was doing because they stole the signals.

    There is one point that is almost iron clad proof that this did not happen.

    -If it were, other teams at least suspencted it.
    -If it were suspecting teams would get a strong feeling during a game whether it may be happening.
    -If it were, there is absolutely no way in the world that those teams would not change their signals, and for example change the cover2 signal to an all-out blitz. In that case the Pats 'steal' cover2, call a play to beat it, and get blitzed to death.

    Given those circumstances there is absolutely no way that Bill Belichick would be so obtuse to rely on deciphering the signals correctly. You have ot have your head buried in the sand to think the Patriots had an advantage on a key play because they deciphered the signals, because there is absolutely no way Bill Belichick would risk a key play on the gamble that the signals had not been changed, much less the almost certainty that he would know if these things really were happening that the other team was LIKELY to try to trick them with a false signal.

    Bill Belichick is not a high risk, high reward coach. The risk of walking into a trap would prevent him from trusting that the signals were read properly and relying upon that.
  2. Pats726

    Pats726 Rookie

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    I agree...but most people can not understand that at all..but GREAT POINT!!
  3. nowayback

    nowayback Rookie

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    good points...the game comes down to one play....you read the signals...and you say ok we got them. no way! he would never trust it...you go with what got you here,,,not going to trust the game on that....you trust your 30 years experience....your films you studied all week.


    only a poor coach would do that
  4. JR4

    JR4 In the Starting Line-up PatsFans.com Supporter

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    AJ you are so right.

    This leads me to think ... why doesn't BB just talked about this in a press conference. Explain things so media people can digest it and get it right.

    As some have suggested
    .... maybe BB likes things just the way they are.
    He likes the "it's us against the world" atmosphere that has resulted.
    Some have even suggested that he planned it that way.

    after all the memo comes out 3 days before the JETs game but inspite of that
    BB sets the camera man right out there in plain sight ... so as to say
    ... come get me.
  5. Krugman

    Krugman Rookie

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    There you go,Andy,bringing logic into the argument again....you'll never make a football analyst if you keep that up....
  6. nowayback

    nowayback Rookie

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    media dont care to get it explained...they know everything. o matter what they will have the last word...now if it was a debate ok
  7. Jimke

    Jimke Rookie

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    This whole deal is a trumped up thing by the New York Jets to

    damage the New England Patriots in any way possible. They were

    probably hoping that Belichick would get a long suspension from

    Goodall and maybe even gain a win by forfeit. They have been waiting

    for more than 6 years to find a way to screw Belichick for resigning

    as Jets coach. Their organization is filled with a bunch of s.o.b.s.
  8. tombonneau

    tombonneau Rookie

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    I've thought the same thing. You'd have to have 99% confidence to adjust your play based on thinking you read their signal correctly.

    Of course, the counter argument is you check earlier in the game to verify the signal is still the same, and then later in the game you act on your confirmation.

    My argument to all this is if you aren't smart enough to change you're signals, you shouldn't be coaching in the NFL.

    Coaches hate it because a lot of them are lazy and don't want to have to put in the extra work they need to give them and their team and edge. They just want everyone else to be as lazy and unprepared as them so that the game is more "fair."

    This was perfectly encapsulated in a quote I read by Dave Wanndest where condemns the practice of stealing signals.

    Hey, Dave, there's a reason you are a two-time loser head coach and are now wallowing in the Big East? ;)
  9. aluminum seats

    aluminum seats Rookie

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    Look, I think that how this has been blown out of proportion is utterly laughable. But you're expending a little too much energy here on some of these points. Obviously Belichick thought that taping the signals would help in some capacity, otherwise he wouldn't do it. It's an incredibly minor deal, and the punishment is completely disproportionate--but he did break a rule he knew about, and he did it because he thought it might provide an edge. Beyond that, let it go.
  10. PatsFanInVa

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    I agree with Aluminum.

    The Patriots broke the rules. Thus far we have little iron-clad evidence that other teams did the same thing. Perhaps the Pats will one day bring their Dolphins evidence forward. Perhaps they will choose not to, in order to focus on football (more likely the latter.)

    But the Patriots, our Patriots, used a camera in violation of league policy. Other teams, by and large, did not. To our knowledge, the camera aspect has not been conclusively shown to be used elsewhere.

    I don't think BB does that to get a disadvantage.

    Your argument relies on Belichick's abilities, aptitudes, proclivities, and you estimation of whether or not he would be "obtuse" enough to do such a thing. It ignores that nasty little sticking point that he did it.

    Now: the idea that Belichick only won because he did it is laughable in the extreme. I am not sure exactly the reasoning for doing it. I think you make valid points as regards same-game use, but Belichick does get an advantage as regards advance scouting: an extra camera just for signals, in addition to the 2 permitted coach's cameras.

    In the same-game use scenario, I think a pair of binoculars will serve you much better than "wait where was that, 7:37? 7:47?..." trying to cue up pieces of tape to get the right signal for the right situation. It seems ridiculous, even discounting the possibility that you get the signal wrong.

    But then, the very argument we make about BB's intelligence, discipline, and perspicacity applies to the organization of such an operation. So enough doubt is left that the talking heads get to scratch their heads and say "hmmm."

    Regardless, the argument is moot. BB broke the rules, and was caught red-handed. He claims an interpretation difference. I'll leave that to the hair-splitters. I do know he enjoyed use of intel that other teams have not been shown to have. I do know he wanted that intel, for whatever reason.

    I also know that BB seeks out every possible edge. From the last couple of games' results, it does not seem that the deciding factor in Patriots' victories has been use of videotape.

    It does seem like the over-reaction around the league has had the opposite of the intended result... and now the Pats go from SB favorite to runaway SB favorite, in so far as you can handicap that event 17 weeks ahead.

    I think we can certainly agree on that being a silver lining to this whole mess.

    PFnV
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  11. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    What he DID was film during a game, evidently filming the opponents sidelines and coaches.
    I can think of numerous reasons to do that which would make a lot more sense than stealing signals. My point was its ludicrous to say "The Patriots cheated because they knew what the other team was calling". And THAT is what many are saying.
    You are turning my comments into something all-enconmpassing.

    I think that Bill Belichick would find value in studying the other teams sideline, if he didn't have his own coaching job to do. Totally unrelated to stealing signs, watching your opponent, watching what they do, how they react, who is involved in decisions, etc, etc would hold value to me. There is no specific purpose to use that info, but if the more I see of my adversary, the better I understand, and the better chance I have of beating them.
    If the reality was that BB taped because if he could he would want to watch the giongs on on the opponents sideline but he was involved in coaching a game, is that a 'moral violation'.?
    My bet is that what those tapes were used for was that BB watched them just to see what the opponent coaches did throughout the game. He could have done it with his own eyes and made notes, he could have assigned a rookie coach to do it, he chose to tape it, and in his spare time, looked at the coaching reaction of the opponent. Its not even unrealistic to say he wanted to learn tactics from the opponent.
    Who know if there is any accuracy in this guess? But, it is much more reasonable to me to believe a purpose such as that was why he tapen the sidelines than that he was trying to decipher signals, that would be changed later anyway, and then was able to break the code and figure out what the other team was calling, and then would risk the outcome of the game on whether that was the right guess.
  12. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think that the answer is evident in all of BBs communications with the media.
    If you do not want to discuss a topic in its entirety, don't answer any questions on it. If you discuss it you support it as a legitimate topic, if you refuse it ultimately goes away.
    The legs that this topic have will be MUCH shorter by BB handling it this way, then by BB offering explanations that would then create a brand new topic of analyzing the explanations.
    No explanation he could give would not result in days upon days of scrutiny of what he said.
    Say nothing, all they can do is speculate.
    Say anything, and on top of speculating, they discuss, twist and analyze everything you said. In a nutshell, if BB offers any explanation, he is now facing all of the media attention on him "cheating" added to by an equal amount of media attention on him "lying about cheating".

    Its like the Mike Piazza is gay rumor that started. Anything Piazza said just kept it alive. If he made a public statement denying he was gay then 50% of the people who heard it said who say, why would someone go on tv to deny they are gay if they aren't and consider it proof he was gay.

    BB know everything that is happening now would happen whether he said a word or not. And any word he said would just add more negative press on top of it.
  13. PatsFanInVa

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    I'll definitely agree that the non-surreptitious use of the camera argues for a certain above-boardness to the infraction.

    In other words, yes, you are advertising "if you think we're using this in-game, now would be the time to switch up signals."

    I've even seen some talking heads saying that the necessity for additional sets of signals, even decoy sets, force an extra preparation step for the opposing team... and we're right back where we started.

    Sorry to turn your argument into something all-encompassing.

    My contention is:

    1) we can not with certainty know the state of mind of Belichick.
    2) we do not have conclusive proof of the specific use of the tape
    3) we do know that the league rule is supposed to apply equally to the teams in the league
    4) we do know that the Patriots sought an unequal application of that rule, by flouting it (whether by "interpretation," or without that argument; the difference is not that relevant.)
    5) we do know that a competitive, intelligent coach is involved.

    To derive that one has broken the rules, one only needs evidence of rulebreaking.

    To derive that one has "cheated" requires a universal definition. The definition seems to be consistent only among non-patriots fans, with our own fans declaring certain niceties need to be satisfied to prove cheating (such as plausibility of in-game use, satisfaction of hypothetical scenarios, etc.)

    Were it a Colts cameraman, I do think I'd take the approach that he cheated, yeah, but that isn't all there is to Manning's superb QB play, their defense toughening up with Sanders present, etc.

    I would probably also say "we'll never know", about last year's game, were the shoe on the other foot. I am a fan. I have that luxury. But I would expect Patriots players and coaches to do no such thing -- that's making excuses, if you're wrong on your speculation.

    I think we broke the rules.
    I think we sought an advantage in doing so.
    I think that's cheating.

    I don't need it to be in-game for it to be cheating, and I don't need it to be Super-Bowl-erasing for it to be cheating, but here's the bad part: the national fanbase and press don't need the cheating to be in-game in order to speculate a greater influence than (I think) it had.

    I'm not running around wailing and gnashing my teeth over it, I just don't need the other extreme of hyperbole either.

    Right now it's "They never would have won without" for the lame media types, and "there's no cheating involved" for us homers.

    The truth is probably more like "well damn, yeah, if that's cheating then yeah we cheated. We also drove 70 in a 55 mph zone today to get to work on time... does that mean we didn't earn that last promotion?"

    But the supporting evidence for either attitude is all in the form of guesses and hypotheticals, that's what bothers me. It is what it is, that's all you can say.

    We cheated. We're being watched. We're not cheating now. We're still winning. That militates for a "minor-impact" assessment of the cheating. That's all we really know.

    And that's all the other guys know too -- not that they should "get their rings now," not that "the Patriots seemed almost like they were in our huddle [and therefore cheated,]" none of that.

    That's why I get irritated not just at the whiners who want to claim they wouldashouldacoulda won this or that game, but also at homers that want to make "cheating" into a crime with three or four different elements including intent, when it's pretty simple to put it in a class of rule violations that you can not address by throwing a yellow beanbag on the field.

    You don't need a morality play to know if someone broke a rule. That's the beauty of treating "cheating" and "enforced rule violation" as equivalents.

    Now, if other rule violations are brought to light by the Pats brass and enforced, so be it. But I think the whole whine-a-thon over the "Cheatriots" would just be intensified at the moment... so that won't be forthcoming (my guess) at least in the near future.

    PFnV
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  14. NYCPatsFan

    NYCPatsFan Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected


    Very nice summation as usual PFnV!

    I wonder if you (or other knowledgable fans) could pen something that fans outside the NE area can forward as an email/write-up to the sportsdesk of their local areas whenever we see the subject of 'cheating' raked up.

    Since the Pats do not seem to be doing much to address the knock on their name and accomplishments, I thought that the fans in the grassroots level can at least take a small step towards battling it and point out some of the glaring points not discussed by most in the media who are bent on smearing us. That way, there might be a slight chance of explaining why this is not as big a deal as many outside the NE area might be thinking.
  15. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I dont agree with all of it, but that was an extremely inteligent, well-thought-out, well written post.

    My point was focussed on whether filming assisted in the SB Championships. It seems that this is becoming an accepted conclusion, because the accepted conclusion is that the filming was to steal signs.
    My post was to refute that, because I see no logical conclusion that the Patriots would be able to USEFULLY steal signs or EFFECTIVELY use them, and therefore would never even try to do so in a game.

    As far as cheating, what I strongly disagree with in your post, is that if in fact it was INTERPRETATION, then, by definition in cannot be cheating. I can only cheat if I understand exactly what isn't allowed and do it anyway. If I do not correctly understand what is or is not allowed, I am not cheating, but misguided in what I believe is fair. That is a CRITICAL issue in this in my mind.

    Here is an analogy:
    I am doing my taxes, and of course my goal is to pay the least tax I can. There are IRS rules that can be ambiguous. I'm not an accountant, so I'll have to make one up for the analogy. Lets say that there is an IRS rule that says I may deduct the cost of items I purchase and use for work.
    I buy a $25,000 painting and hang it in my office.
    INTERPRETATION: I can read that IRS rule to say I can deduct that cost, because I used it for work. The IRS may rule that there definition of 'use for work' does not include art I hang on the wall of my office. When they rule that, I be an idiot or liar to say I am shocked and never imagined that could be their interpretation. I used my interpretation, which is somewhat reasonable but wrong. I FELT I WAS RIGHT TO DO WHAT I DID, BUT WAS PROVEN WRONG. That is not cheating.
    CHEATING: I hang the painting at home, but deduct it anyway, thinking how is the IRS going to know if its at home or work.

    Those are very different scenarios.

    Interpretting a rule wrong means having a reasonable belief that what I am doing is legal, then being told it is not. Cheating is knowing it is illegal, and doing it anyway.

    There is only ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE AS TO WHICH IT WAS. That is Bill Belichicks statement that he misinterpreted. No one can answer, no matter how hard they try, whether he felt it was within the rule, and was proven wrong, or knew it wasn't and did it any way. Therefore, the only way you can say Bill Belichcik cheated is to say he also lied when he said he misinterpreted. The problem with that approach is you have absolutely no way to know whether you are correct.

    The naswer to whether this is misinterpetation or cheating is solely contained in the head of Bill Belichick. Outside of there, you either choose to believe what he is saying or not, but either is simply a conjecture.
  16. PatsFanInVa

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    NYC, right now it would be urinating into the wind, for fans just as much as for the Pats' brass. BUT, I've seen a cycle emerge (and not to toot my horn too much, but I think I've most stages before they emerged):

    Stage 1: Ohmigod say it aint so Joe!!! PATS ARE CHEATERS!!! BREAKING NEWS!!! PATS COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE THAT GOOD!

    Stage 2: (this part I didn't see coming): Opponents who've lost big games use Stage 1 as their excuse.

    Stage 3: The "wait a minute" reaction. Because the fire was deprived of much fuel by BB/the Pats' refusal to dwell on it, there was a vacuum. Writers and pundits had to have a new angle. "Wait a minute.." has become that angle. Chad Johnson and one or two others got ahead of that curve, and the Chargers win cemented it. People are starting to ask "well, if they're this good, was that "cheating" that important?"

    Stage 4: (I called this one big time, toot toot:) The "Ut-ohhhhh" reaction. This is the stage in which we all realize we've given the Pats an us-against-the-world to beat the band. We've taken a close runner up in last years real super bowl (the AFCCG), which has restocked talent in a way unprecedented in the salary cap era, and backed them into a corner. WTF did you THINK was gonna happen?

    Stage 5: (Coming soon to a media outlet near you): The "what about...?" reaction. We've seen plenty of it here on PatsFans. We've seen a glimmer of it with Billick's point about the Jets' false signals. Pretty soon we're going to see stories about other teams' conduct, and this becomes an exercise in hairsplitting, "their cheating" vs. "our cheating." Joe fan decides, screw it, it's a game and none of these things are that significant.

    But we never lose the perceived national stigma over the 2001-2004 run... except for us Pats fans. Not for another couple of Lombardis anyway.

    Anyway, all that to say, we only need patience and a realistic outlook, not a grassroots campaign, if you ask me (flattered as I am). Anyway I'm involved with one of those at work myself. I come here to procrastinate!

    PFnV
  17. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    I had an earlier post looking at the 2003 and 2004 seasons for evidence that the Pats experienced a significant gain in offense against a team when compared to an earlier game against the same team (where signals would have been stolen):

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/showthread.php?p=532534#post532534

    Why can't anyone making these charges point to a specific "suspicious" game to support their point of view?
  18. PatsFanInVa

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    Andy, I think we're pretty much on the same page, with the difference being that "cheating" for you has that moral dimension. But I can't resist your example...

    The IRS has "delinquency", but then they also have tax evasion, which is a felony. Delinquency is dealt with through penalties, whereas evasion can land you in jail (that's how they got Al Capone.)

    But let's say you're a freelancer with a home office, and you go to lunch every week with other freelancers. Every one of them is sweating bullets about their home office deductions, and you hear every one of them say every week, "damn, I wish the IRS would allow you to deduct paintings!"

    Now, without asking anyone at the IRS or a tax accountant or lawyer for an interpretation, you decide that a line that says "nor a painting nor anything that is beautiful"... means that the painting must be beautiful. You know you think the painting is ugly as sin but your wife likes it. So, you lower your hourly rate 10 bucks, get a bunch of business from the other guys in your lunch group, and say it's a matter of interpretation.

    Although I agree ultimately only BB knows what he means by interpretation, from reading the rule (no recording equipment, no camera, nothing that could give you an unfair advantage), it seems he means "oh but the camera didn't give me an advantage so it's not the kind of camera they mean."

    But then, BB isn't specifying, so again we're in the land of conjecture.

    Regardless, we don't have "Delinquency" (misinterpretation,) and "Evasion" (willfully cheating). We have breaking the rules... leaving the "cheating" definition up to the fans and the press.

    So, it comes down to "cheating" and what you mean by that. The extreme example of your definition would let me say Merriman just liked the way he looked on steroids, so it's a rule infraction not cheating. (I've used that one before so sorry if you've seen it.)

    You make a good point, but I don't think BB was unclear that the way we were using the camera was a little different. I'll flip-flop on that one as soon as I see some reason to believe "everybody is filming signals." Point is, "everybody is stealing signs by traditional means" doesn't address the situation. As we've seen, it was on the Pats to thoroughly understand the legalities, if they wanted to be the mavericks who trained cameras on signals.

    So, again, it's in the land of conjecture. The can of worms is open, and people will make their guesses. The can of worms would not be open, except that we opened it.

    Good argument from your side (that they have to guess to conclusively prove he was "cheating" using the narrow definition.) I get where you're coming from... my gut says, he was playing the edges too enthusiastically, knew what was at stake, knew he had some rationale, and knew there was a risk it wouldn't hold up.

    You have to be pretty forgiving to bridle at a "cheating" charge if that's the case.

    But all this is why I say screw the intent (I may be wrong on all that, since I am going by my gut too,) and just accept the loose definition: You broke the rules, you got something out of it, you cheated.

    Again, we're 90% in agreement here, so sorry to beat the dead horse.

    PFnV
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  19. JR4

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    I believe there is the potential to lose that stigma.

    It depends on determining when the sideline video rule was established?

    I have searched and asked and can not find that information.
    Some think it was only recently established.
  20. the Patriot

    the Patriot Rookie

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    I heard an interesting theory that Belichick thought that the Jets coaching staff had been stealing signals during the game they lost at foxborro so he tried to catch them in the action. I don't know what to make of it but I just thought I'd throw it out there.

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