I am not a fan of the New England Patriots. I don't have the visceral hatred for them that my friend, S. (a Duke Divinity School student) had for the Carolina Tarheels basketball team ("I say a prayer every night that Dean Smith and the Carolina basketball team will perish in a fiery bus crash."). Nor do I have the feelings that most Red Sox fans have about the New York Yankees.
I respect Bill Belichick as a great coach; and, this Patriots team as a true dynasty. Even with the 2007 New England Patriots flirting with perfection, poised to unseat my (1972) Miami Dolphins as the only team to have a perfect season, I can say that this is one amazing team. And, as much as I liked Dan Marino as a QB, I think Tom Brady might just be the best quarterback...ever.
I like the fact that the Pats pull no punches when they play. No margin of victory is too large; no lead is large enough. They roll over teams like shit goes through a goose. Just the way that it should be.
And, when people complain about the Pats running up the score, I say, "Fuck off!" Like I noted above, no lead is large enough, no margin of victory is too large. Blow the doors off of the other teams, I don't care. I know that what goes around, comes around. I remember when the Pats were the laughingstock of the NFL (not unlike my Dolphins are now). I also respect the fact that, for the most part, the fans of the lousy Patriots stuck with them (like my cousin, T).
What, however, I can not understand is the reaction, by fans of the Pats, to the so-called "Spy-Gate" morass.
"Everyone does it." (Just like people said, of impeached President Bill Clinton, "Every president gets a blow job from a chunky intern in the Oval Office.")
"They (who the fuck is 'they'?) just want to get even with the Patriots for being so good."
"The NFL wants to protect the 1972 Dolphins." (This is one of the more bizarre comments that I have heard. What the hell does the NFL get for protecting the 35 year old record of an average team that won with a great defence, a grinding offence, and a lot of luck?)
The fact remains, gentle readers, that not every team does it, at least not so openly, from the sidelines. Cameras hidden in the stands? Maybe. End zones? Definitely. In fact, the NFL requires that home clubs "...provide visiting clubs with equal vantage points for the taping of games." (Boston Herald, p. 71, 13.12.2007)
And, the Patriots had at least one (and maybe two) chances to cut the shit. The Jets (and head coach, Eric Mangini) reported the Patriots to the NFL for taping their signals during a September 17, 2006 game. The Jets didn't have the camera confiscated, so they had no evidence of the Patriots' cheating. At least one other team failed to gather physical evidence of the taping during the 2006-2007 season; and, undaunted, the Patriots continued filming from the sidelines.
Then, at the 2007-2008 season opener, at the Meadowlands, the Jets hammered the Patriots, getting Matt Estrella's camera, and the tape. As a consequence, Belichick, was fined five hundred thousand ($500,000.00) dollars; the team a cool quarter mill and the loss of some draft picks. (The NFL couldn't forfeit the game because there was no way to make things right with the sports book if they did.) As of right now, there will be no asterisk (*); but, look for Mark Ecko to press for one if the Pats remain perfect.
Which brings us to this weekend, at Gillette Stadium (in beautiful Foxborough, Massachusetts). The Jets come to town, hoping to survive the ass-whipping that the Patriots will surely be planning. Mangini hopes to make it out alive. The bookies hope that the Pats cover the 23 1/2 point spread.