Or if you are any NFL team other than the New England Patriots:
According to a National Football League letter about the investigation into the controversy that was shared with the Globe, the Patriots were informed that the league’s initial findings indicated that the game balls did not meet specifications. The league inspected each of the Patriots’ 12 game balls twice at halftime, using different pressure gauges, and found footballs that were not properly inflated.
According to ESPN, 11 of the 12 game balls were found to be underinflated by about 2 pounds each. The NFL specifications say they must be inflated to 12½ to 13½ pounds.
This is the same organization that was caught taping the signals of other teams and of ‘eavesdropping’ on their radio communications during games. All of these actions are illegal according to NFL rules:
NFL rules state “no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.” They also say all video for coaching purposes must be shot from locations “enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead.”
That was re-emphasized in a memo sent Sept. 6 to NFL head coaches and general managers. In it, Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, wrote:”Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game.”
Here’s more on “Spygate”:
As the scandal broke, the NFL was investigating a possible violation into the number of radio frequencies the Patriots were using during the Jets game, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, who reported at the time that the Pats did not “have a satisfactory explanation when asked about possible irregularities in its communication setup during the game.”
Quarterbacks communicate with the sidelines via microphones in their helmets that pick up an NFL-monitored radio frequency. An NFL sideline official cuts off communications on this frequency 15 seconds before the play clock runs out.
Offensive plays would be called based on stolen signals and the information relayed straight to Brady’s helmet, O’Leary theorizes.
In this scenario, the extra frequency is critical, as it allows the team to do something in real time with the stolen signals, out of earshot of the NFL monitor, and change its plays accordingly.
If there’s an open channel during the play itself, you can also alert the quarterback to open receivers he may not see.
O’Leary repeats a rumor that Pats backup quarterback Doug Flutie once said he accidentally picked up Brady’s helmet during the 2005 season.
“He was amazed that the coaches kept right on speaking to Brady past the 15-second cutoff, right up until the snap,” according to O’Leary.
“The voice in Tom Brady’s helmet was explaining the exact defense he was about to face.”
And what did the NFL do? This:
Less than a week after the tape was confiscated, Goodell on Sept. 13 issued an emergency order compelling the Pats to fork over any other tapes. Yet before receiving any of them, he handed down his punishment: taking away the Pats’ first-round draft pick the next year, while fining the team $250,000 and Belichick — who claimed he simply misinterpreted the rulebook and never used video to gain a competitive advantage — the league maximum $500,000.
On Sept. 20, the NFL announced the Pats handed over six tapes and two days later said little about what the recordings contained — only that they had been destroyed.
“When somebody has a hit that looks suspicious, it takes the league three to four days of looking at a tape, then they issue a fine,” O’Leary said.
“In this case, they had a team that potentially stole three Super Bowls, and they issued a verdict in four days. Does that sound like the NFL was trying to get to the bottom of anything?”
And the cheating even gained the attention of a Senator:
And the league’s actions didn’t sit well with some outside observers, including Sen. Arlen Specter, who requested a meeting with Goodell in November 2008 to learn why the tapes had been destroyed.
What Specter learned from the one-hour, 40-minute sitdown in February 2008 was that the Pats had been spying on opposing teams for nearly a decade, ever since Belichick’s first year as head coach of the Pats.
“There was confirmation that there has been taping since 2000, when Coach Belichick took over,” said Specter, who called for an independent probe similar to a Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. It never materialized.
“I found a lot of questions unanswerable because the tapes and notes had been destroyed,” said the late Pennsylvania lawmaker.
Isn’t this what criminals do to cover up their crimes? If we actually had a justice system in this country, the NFL would suspend the operations of the team, force the owner to sell it (the NBA made Donald Sterling sell the Clippers for far less), and ban Bill Belicheck for life. Instead, we get two weeks of hype as the Patriots are rewarded for their chicanery.
I find the whole thing to be an apt metaphor for things in the United States today. The cheaters are not punished (Google “MF Global” for a good example) and are in fact praised for their actions. I do find it interesting to note that the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since the cheating was discovered in 2007.
Enjoy the Super Bowl on February 1. As for me, I will better things to do than to watch criminals prosper.