Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Pundits' Double Standards

After the Goodell-Walsh meeting on Tuesday regarding Spy-Gate, ESPN went on the offensive...full bunker mentality.

Their NFL Today program went off full-bore talking to Chris Carter and Mark Schlereth about whether or not the punishment of the Patriots was severe enough. Both went on a tirade about how the punishment wasn't enough given what the film showed.

What the film showed was nothing more than standard coach footage inter-spliced with the coaches signals and time on the clock.

I could put that together based on television broadcasts.

Not quite the same angles, but I could still get formations, personnel packages, clock time, and coaching signals from the various networks. If I wanted end-zone angles, I could easily create a computer generated model for that would show me the same play from other angles.

Carter and Schlereth both condescended to the fans, saying that the untrained eye wouldn't understand the advantage a team could gain from this.

I watched.

What I saw, like I said, was film that would give me pretty much what i would get from a standard coach's film combined with the notes that are typically garnered from the non-electronic spying that the teams engage in all the time.

As for Schlereth's rhetoric - Noted at profootballtalk.com:

Indeed, let’s consider this quote from Schlereth, which he offered up on ESPN Radio on Tuesday afternoon: “This besmirches to the organization to the point where regardless of how you look at these three championships that they’ve won over the last seven, eight years you will still always look at them and say ‘Yeah, but . . . they had this Spygate thing, how much of it was inappropriate, how much cheating went on, and how much did it help them during the course of some of those games?”
I thought him talking about how the Patriots' dynasty would always be tainted was a bit disingenuous considering he earned two of his Super Bowl rings for a Broncos squad that was not only caught filming opponents, but was in violation of the salary cap by close to $30 million in both of the Super Bowl seasons. If he thinks the Pats' punishment wasn't severe enough for filming, I'd love to hear what he thinks the penalty should be for his Broncos that were guilty of the same violation and an additional one that was meant to give the team a competitive edge.

Considering the cap in 1998 was $52.4 million in 1998, that means that the Broncos were over the cap by almost 60 percent. SIXTY PERCENT! What buys you a bigger advantage? A coaching tape with hand signals, or the fact that you don't have to cut players that know the system inside and out and replace them with younger players unfamiliar with the system because your team is paying 157 percent of what every other team is paying their players? The Broncos claimed that there was no competitive advantage in the $29 million "accounting gaffe" that largely involved John Elway and Terrell Davis' contracts. But the league fined them $950 thousand and a third round draft pick back in 2004 for the violations in the late 1990's.

As I rant here, I think it's important to note that ESPN has worked hard to destroy its own journalistic credibility with things like the Barry Bonds love-in last season. Right now the ESPN pundits are putting forth the "if it didn't give the team that much of an advantage then why did they do it" line in their attacks on the Patriots. Why then did the Broncos put forth contracts with hidden deferred monies to their stars in the years in question if it didn't help them?

On ESPN's second face, last year the likes of Buster Olney and Jayson Stark repeatedly fawned over Bonds, argued that they would vote for him first ballot because, "it was just the era, and everyone else was doing it." Supporters like to point out that he hasn't failed a test, the cheating is alleged. They don't like to be countered with the fact that Bonds hasn't disputed a single fact in Game of Shadows. The man's a cheater, admitted to a grand jury. Get over it now.

Today, the station that was ramming Barry Bonds down our throats all last year, calling Roger Clemens the best pitcher ever, and pretty much exonerated Andy Pettitte because he came clean after getting caught, is expressing moral outrage at the actions of the Patriots. Actions that, anyone that can do a little Internet research can find, were perpetrated by Eric Mangini's Jets, the aforementioned Broncos, and even the Miami Dolphins (does it not count if they purchased the tape? It ends up as the same result).

Are the reporters being told by the producers not to dig?

It would make sense, given the moral outrage at the Patriots 52-7 pasting of the Redskins last season. Everybody was talking about winning games like that demanded payback, and that losing teams, losing coaches don't forget about losses like that. It was funny how none of the network or newspaper research departments turned up the one previous meeting between teams coached by Bill Belichick and Joe Gibbs. The Redskins put a 42-17 thrashing on Belichick's Browns in 1991. Yeah, the loser of a blowout remembered. And yeah, payback was a bitch.

I could be wrong, but it certainly seems like the the national outlets are going out of their way to demonize the Patriots. They did something wrong. They got caught. They were punished. Get over it people.

Was it worse than the salary cap violations of the Broncos? No, but there was nowhere near this much outrage. Maybe because by the time it hit for the Broncos, they were six years removed from being any good.

Was it worse than Zach Thomas admitting the 'Phins got the Pats' O-line calls and audibles from a tape the team "bought"? No. But the Dolphins were patted on their back for their ingenuity...maybe because it was one of only six wins Miami had all season.

Was it worse than the Jets taping from the Gillette end zone? No, but the Jets were off to one of the worst starts in football, which developed into a grim season, when they copped to their actions.

Only the Patriots were winning when it happened.

Only the Patriots continue to get vitriol.

But they're not alone in their actions.

For a good read on the subject, check out the commentary at PFT.


soxfaninmiami said...

I'm watching Mike and Mike. The spin is fast and furious. The wagons have been circled and they are defending their own at all costs.

Kevin Smith said...

Been watching it myself. I notice how they're making cure blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Herald. I love how they have Sal Pal reporting about what Walsh observed during the Rams walk-through as though it were the worst thing in the world, and then he adds at the very end that Walsh did nothing wrong.

I do have to add that I appreciate that Golic at least is saying that he doesn't think it tarnishes what happened on the fields...Well, that and he read my letter ripping other historical cheaters in the league.

soxfaninmiami said...

I was wondering if that was you. Nice going. I sent them an email telling them to report the rules correctly and that stealing the other teams signals and using that theft in the game in which they are stolen is legal. Goodell made that plainly clear. If Belichick had 12 artists sitting on the sideline drawing pictures of the defensive signals he could use that in the game. I'll post Golic's response on my blog and my subsequent response.

Dave said...

Amen, brother. Amen.

soxfaninmiami said...

Specter wants a Mitchell type investigation into the video taping. It won't happen. They won't be able to limit the investigation to just the Patriots and just the video taping. They will have to include all teams and all forms of "cheating" including those you mentioned. The NFL wants no part of that.

Kevin Smith said...

Yeah...I'm going to address that...particularly his reasoning.