I am not someone who hates on the Patriots...after all, from all I can tell, they are the modern version of the 49ers in the 1980s. Winning championships, excluding class - and, at the end of the day, bending or breaking the rules in order to do so. And being fined.
Cheating in sports covers a lot of ground. Clearly, when an umpire or player does it in order to win money from gambling, there's nobody in the world who could really justify that. But cheating in order to win? It's another story.
Sure, I'm a Giants fan and therefore don't care nearly as much about Barry Bonds as others do, and to go into that conversation is so boring I can't take it any more. But the most important variable or outcome of that story was all the retired players who acknowledged that they would have done the same thing if they could have during their career. It's called being incredibly competitive, something we as fans applaud until we feel that somehow, we've been lied to.
What Belichek and company did was wrong. What's also probable is that they are not the only team that does this. What's odder is that this was apparently known around the league, and that the Patriots had been warned about it in the past.
The brazen behavior is probably the only thing that sticks in my craw about this. The fact that owner Robert Kraft, who had to know about this, took the Lombardi trophy on World Tour, etc.
Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated puts it well:
The arrogance of the organization, the smugness. We are the greatest, with the greatest coach, a genius, etc. What other team ever had its owner, Bob Kraft in this case, take the Super Bowl trophy overseas in the name of world peace. What'll he take this year, the videos of the defensive signals?
• The fact that this is nothing new. Stories are now coming out of the woodwork that cheating has been a normal modus operandi with this club.
Does this taint their Super Bowls? Probably. Will folks remember it in a few years? A few. But when I boast loudly about the 49ers dominating the 1980s, even people who hate the Greatest Team in Professional Sports simply shrug and agree. Nobody cares that DeBartolo broke salary cap rules, and whatnot. At least not in the context of the team.
There's nothing worse than sanctimonious folks on their high-horses, bitching and moaning about how wrong folks are. We here in the Bay Area are regularly treated to Ralph Barbieri doing just that on KNBR with regularity. It's enough already.
That being said, Belichek - you're a cheater! And a damn good coach.