This is becoming a joke, although if I’m Patriots owner Robert Kraft, I’m not laughing.
Somewhere Roger Goodell has to be fuming over last week’s defeat in court and now ESPN suddenly has additional details stemming from the original “Spygate” controversy from back in 2007, and they released an extensive article that’s about to hit ESPN The Magazine about the private practices employed by the Patriots when it came to how the film they gathered to study other teams.
The timing on the release of the article is questionable to say the least, with the Patriots a mere three days away from raising their championship banner at Gillette Stadium after beating the Seahawks in February. Originally there was some doubt on whether or not that would even happen depending on Tom Brady’s suspension and after beating Goodell in court, everything seemed to be lining up to pick up the pieces and finally get back to business. New England could finally enjoy their Super Bowl title and could start the 2015 season having put all the talk about deflated footballs behind them, and Goodell would be forced to watch it all on television after becoming the most hated man in this region.
But now ESPN, after suffering a little damage of their own following the false report initially released by Chris Mortenson in a Tweet that was eventually deleted that kicked off this whole mess, took some significant time putting together another piece that will hit nationally and likely cause a stir that should infuriate everyone all over again.
In the article ESPN details how the team stole play sheets and brings up the accusations of jamming opposing team’s headsets at Gillette Stadium, citing former Patriots employees.
In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. Walsh later told investigators that he was once instructed to remove the labels and erase tapes of a Patriots practice because the team had illegally used a player on injured reserve. At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — “small s—” that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.
There are a slew of other items outlining many other dirty details that are suddenly conveniently available involving a story that was the biggest of its kind eight years ago, and comes about right before the Patriots are about to be celebrated for their incredible accomplishment.
It’s a disgusting move to say the least in an obvious attempt to smear the team following an ugly offseason that included some biting comments by Robert Kraft regarding how the league handled the situation involving Brady this offseason and the media leaks that came from Goodell’s office.
“The league’s handling of this entire process has been extremely frustrating and disconcerting,” said Kraft back in July. “I will never understand why an initial erroneous report regarding the psi level of footballs was leaked by a source from the NFL a few days after the AFC Championship game was never corrected by those who had the correct information. For four months, that report cast aspersions and shaped public opinion.”
And now thanks to this, there’s a new report to change their public perception even further.
Before that Kraft fell on the shield and accepted the loss of a first and fourth round pick at the hope of protecting his quarterback and ending the “rhetoric” in an effort to minimize the damage to the league. However, that same league has hung him and his franchise out to dry yet again and this story is back on the same night the NFL Network is beginning two nights dedicated to commemorating the Patriots’ season.
Needless to say, here we go again. Fortunately this is a team who isn’t exactly a stranger to these types of distractions and there is certainly enough talent in that locker room to be able to overcome it. After all, the last time something like this happened the Patriots ran the table during the regular season and came up one game short of winning the whole thing.
Let’s hope this time the same thing happens and they finish the job.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary