Patriots’ sideline video tricks tarnish team’s image

first_imgThe past few months have been quite eventful for New Englanders in the sporting world. The Celtics pulled off two blockbuster trades and acquired veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The Red Sox continue to play solid baseball and still hold a sizeable lead over the Yankees in the AL East. And after the Patriots’ 38-14 victory over the New York Jets Sunday, fans in Beantown are buzzing about their team’s potential this year. With new wide receivers in Randy Moss and Donte’ Stallworth, quarterback Tom Brady finally has some quality targets to throw to, and many have slated the Pats as early Super Bowl favorites.New England’s beloved Patriots are supposed to be America’s team, a team that became a football dynasty by winning three Super Bowls in four years between 2002 and 2005, a team that steered clear of off-the-field troubles plaguing many other teams. They have a quarterback in Brady that all guys want to be and all girls want to be with.Simply put, the Patriots have been a model for success under the leadership of head coach Bill Belichick. But suddenly, things aren’t looking so bright in Boston.Developments after their win Sunday have changed the Pats’ positive image. They quickly became the bad boys of the NFL, deciding to stray from the rulebook. Commissioner Roger Goodell determined that New England was guilty of videotaping signals made by the Jets’ defensive coaches.So here’s how they apparently pulled it off. Early in the game, Matt Estrella, a member of the Patriots’ video staff, focused his camera on the Jets’ defensive coaches as they gave hand signals to players on the field. Those hand signals were then matched up with videos and images of defensive formations corresponding to different plays. For instance, one signal may mean a blitz up the middle, while another may be a blitz from the left side. If the Patriots knew what was called based on previous knowledge of the hand signals, they could prepare for the upcoming blitz.Great plan? Maybe. Against the rules? You bet. According to the rulebook, no videotaping is allowed during the game in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or, in the case of New England, on the field.This wasn’t the first time such an incident occurred with the Pats, either. Last season, Estrella was removed from the Packers’ sideline during New England’s 35-0 shutout of Green Bay for the same reasons. This tells me the Patriots have been up to this for quite some time. No one is sure how long this has been going on, but many people within the league remain wary.One of the biggest skeptics of New England is also one of the most respected players in the game, LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chargers running back and his team, who lost to the Patriots in last year’s AFC playoffs, will face off against the alleged signal stealers this Sunday. LT and New England have bad blood between each other dating back to last year’s postseason, when several Patriots mocked Tomlinson’s teammate, Shawne Merriman, at the middle of San Diego’s field after the game.Tomlinson, who for the most part is reserved and polite, verbally scolded the Pats’ actions. In a press conference this week, he said he wasn’t surprised by the latest findings of cheating. He even went as far as to jokingly say, “I think the Patriots actually live by the saying, ‘If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.’ They live off that statement.” Harsh words coming from the league MVP — but maybe he’s right.While teams can get away with things like this in baseball, where sign stealing is quite common, Goodell has made it clear that he and the NFL will not stand for it. Part of the problem is that this is not an isolated incident, and if nothing is done to stop it, it will continue.So what should happen to the Patriots to send a message to the league? The commissioner believes they should have to forfeit future draft picks, and since he is ultimately the law of the NFL, that is probably what will happen. If I were commissioner for a day, however, I would be a little stricter on New England. If they are found guilty of stealing signs, they should have to forfeit the game against the Jets in addition to Goodell’s proposal that they lose draft picks. Yes, as a Chargers fan, I may be slightly bitter that the ‘Bolts lost last year. But I am over that, and ready for the rematch this weekend.Keep in mind, nothing has been decided yet, and the Patriots have not officially been convicted of cheating. But whatever results from this debacle, this controversy will surely taint their once-perfect image that has already been polluted by last year’s postgame playoff antics in San Diego and the recent suspension of safety Rodney Harrison for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.Yes, America, start looking for a new team to call your own. But while you’re at it, may I suggest steering clear of the Falcons?Tyler Mason is a junior majoring in journalism. All Patriots fans can send your hate mail or spy techniques to [email protected]last_img