Wednesday, September 12, 2007


One of the best parts about watching the Patriots succeed over the past six or so years has been that they’ve done it through hard work and class. So you can imagine the disappointment that the team apparently cheated Sunday when it videotaped the Jets’ sideline. What’s worse, this isn’t the first time an incident like this has occurred; the Pats also got in trouble for taping Green Bay last year. Bill Simmons recently explained better than I ever could what it feels like to have your favorite team, once a laughingstock, morph into a powerhouse and network favorite, so I won’t get into that. I’m sure fans of the Chargers, Eagles, Panthers, Colts and others are ecstatic about this, and I don’t blame them. As a fan of the Patriots though – and as a fan in general - this raises some interesting questions. Most importantly: at what point do the human failings of team personnel force you to root against the team in general?

Bill Belichick has pretty much been a God Among Men in New England since the first Super Bowl win. He is touted as a bonafide genius, and I’m inclined to agree. In recent years, a few things came out to slightly tarnish his image. Last year he refused to shake Eric Mangini’s hand after a game. Then later in the year, after the Pats beat the Jets in the playoffs, Belichick forcefully pushed a cameraman out of the way in order to get to Mangini for a post-game hug. The Boston sports media is notorious for tearing down idols, so I couldn’t help but think some of these things were blown out of proportion. But now this.

New England fans don’t care for showboating and players who run their mouths, so the Patriots’ working class ethic was very endearing. The whole cheating thing really changes the dynamic. And it calls into question Belichick’s genius, since why would he have to cheat if he’s so smart? Or, is he now an evil genius? And is it OK to root for an evil genius, provided he’s your evil genius?

Personally, this isn’t enough to make me stop cheering on the Patriots, but it certainly takes us down a peg. I think that’s the ultimate lesson New England fans should take away: we hate to think of ourselves as the Yankees of the NFL, and a way to prove we’re not is to accept that this was a horrible call by our coaching staff and accept the punishment with humility. This weekend, I’ll do my best to endure the taunts of Chargers fans with stoic silence.

(Until we kick their asses, that is. It wasn’t the video camera that sacked Chad Pennington and almost broke his foot. Look out!)


harrington.dw said...

They should make him wear a sweater with actual sleeves.

All day and night, even when he showers.

Nooch said...

The yankees don't cheat liz.. don't compare them to the Pats.

Actually, I like the Pats. Mostly cause I am not a giant (pun) football fan. I just enjoy the game, doesn't really matter who is playing.