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New England Patriots

Roger Goodell’s Failure

Roger Goodell sent a message Thursday: if you get in trouble off the field, pray that the New York Post isn’t delivered to NFL offices; if you are caught cheating during a game, eh, no biggie.

Allegations arose Monday that the New England Patriots, winners of three of the last six Super Bowls, had been caught videotaping New York Jets’ defensive signals during the Patriots’ 38-14 win Sunday afternoon. After confiscating the tapes and issuing a private investigation, Goodell confirmed that the allegations were true.The Patriots were fined $250,000 and docked a conditional first round pick, with that pick becoming a second and a third if they miss the playoffs. Additionally, head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, the largest coach fine in NFL history and the maximum allowed by league rules. However, Belichick was not suspended, even though Goodell admitted he considered it.

For those involved, the money is irrelevant. And due to skillful maneuvering, the Patriots still have a first round pick that they received from San Francisco, a pick that will likely be higher than the one they give up.

Oh, not to mention that their team is so solid that there is unlikely to be that many holes to fill.

Compared to Tank Johnson, who was suspended half a season for asserting his constitutional rights, this isn’t even a slap on the wrist. Heck, it isn’t even a stern “don’t do that.”

Goodell is allowing teams to cheat and doing as little as needed to make the league look good. He issued a punishment and now everyone is happy. All this does is make him David Stern without the guilt of actually being involved in the cheating (yes, Stern has orchestrated the draft lottery on at least two occasions and probably upwards of 20 postseason games; get over it).

If he truly wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again, he would. In college sports, cheating, such as using players who have in some way lost their eligibility, even through the influence of outside boosters, is counteracted with loss of scholarships, postseason sanctions, and forfeiture of wins and titles. Michigan basketball had to vacate two final fours and about 200 victories for a slew of violations in the 1990s. And the Patriots should have been subjected to a similar fate.

First, the team should have lost every single draft pick for the 2007 draft, including the rights for conditional draft picks should they lose restricted players to free agency. If they complied with NFL rules for the remainder of the season, they would regain the rights to any conditional draft picks.

Second, Belichick should have been seriously investigated and if found to be the main person responsible, suspended without pay for at least four games and as many as the remaining 15 games of the 2007 season.

Third, the team should have been forced to forfeit the result of Sunday’s game and placed in the standings with a loss. The Jets loss would stand as well, as they did clearly lose, no matter how badly the Patriots cheated (consider Watergate as a similar example).

And finally, the Patriots should have been eliminated from postseason contention for the 2007 season and put on high alert that any further violation within three years would result in a two year suspension from postseason activity as well as a revocation of the franchise right from the owners within 365 days of the offense.

If Goodell had taken these steps, everyone outside of the greater Boston area would have applauded him for making sure that cheating remained out of the game. What the Patriots did violated the sanctity of fair play and showed an utter disrespect for ethics.

Of course, anyone who remembers the time the Patriots delayed the finish of their winter game against the Miami Dolphins so that a guy could plow the snow off of the field in overtime right before a game winning field goal attempt knows that the Patriots have no respect for ethics.

But Goodell issued nothing. He showed that the greatest evil in the NFL is not cheating amongst teams but rather weapons possession by marginally visible players. And that’s wrong.

While Goodell did rightly go visit injured Buffalo Tight End Kevin Everett Thursday, the day was a loss for the NFL in the eyes of posterity. Goodell was given an opportunity to show that his league would not tolerate cheating and he failed.

He failed miserably.

The entire Patriot organization got off, and if I were Belichick, nothing would stop me from videotaping opponents for the rest of the year. I already learned that Goodell doesn’t want to punish me.

Just as long as I don’t get caught fighting dogs….

By bsd987

I have written for SportsColumn.com since 2004 and was named a featured writer in 2006. I have been Co-Editor of the site since January 1, 2009. I also write for BleacherReport.com where I am a founding member of the Tennis Roundtable and one of the chief contributors to both the Tennis and Horse Racing sections.

I am "Stat Boy" for Sportscolumn.com's weekly podcast, Poor Man's PTI.

I am currently a Junior at Rice University majoring in History and Medieval Studies. My senior thesis will focus on the desegregation of football in Texas and its affect of racial relations.

Please direct all inquiries to [email protected]

Thanks,
Burton DeWitt
Co-Editor of Sportscolumn.com

7 replies on “Roger Goodell’s Failure”

My two cents That’s a nice opinion piece. But as is, with “editorials”, it’s bound to have it’s fair share of comments.

Here’s mine.

Actually, I think the punishment was sufficient enough.

First, you didn’t mention in your article that Bill Belichick was also fined 500,000 for his misdeed. (That’s pretty big, if you ask me).

Second, the forfeiture of the 1st round pick (2nd and 3rd if they don’t make the play-offs) may not be felt now – considering how loaded this Patriots team is – but it will be felt in the long run.

(If I was Goodell, however, I would have taken their first round and the one they have from San Francisco.)

While you made an interesting comparison with college football, I see them as two different animals. The NFL, unlike the NCAA, is a money-driven league. It operates on the revenue it gets from sponsors, businesses, and the fans. In the bigger scheme of things, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the league if they completely cut-off the Patriots from any involvement in the next year or two. Imagine the losses the league would have if one of the best teams in the entire NFL is forced to sit out for an extended period of time.

Besides, this form of “cheating” is widespread in the league. Every team does it. The Patriots just got caught. If the league really puts the hammer down on this, I’m sure they would have the “moral responsibility” to investigate every team in the league to see if they’re guilty of the same crime. Let’s paint a picture. If half of the league is found guilty, according to your punishment, we would be looking at an NFL that will field 16 teams for two years.

The punishment, in my opinion, aws fairly served. Although I agree with you on the suspension of Belichick for more than just one game, black-listing the whole team for an entire year won’t make sense for the NFL from a business stand point, which, at the end of the day, is what the NFL really is.

yeah Although I did state at the beginning that Belichick was fined and I do disagree with your assessment that the NCAA is not a money driven league when it 100% is.

did anyone else see the fine the motor sport just got? something like 100 million dollars.

how many people think the pats miss the playoffs on purpose just so they don’t lose the first round pick?

yeah I meant to include that in my article and completely forgot to. Also, the team was deducted all their points for the constructors championship.

I Trumped You All You guys should read my “thoughts and notes” in the journal and written on Monday.  I mentioned both the Pats and the Formule 1 issues, although shortly.

I think the Formule 1 fine was overstated, wherein the NFL action might have been the absolute minimum acceptable penalty and he could have been a bit stronger such as a 4 game suspension for Belichick or something similar.  

BSD’s editorial is good, but reads too much like a fan of a Pats rival.  You seem emotionally distressed that the NFL didn’t lower the boom harder.

In this case, I have to agree with Kirby’s accessment.  The NCAA and the NFL are both cash cows, but with different agenda’s…at least publicly.  Universities don’t move, but teams do.  The infraction hardly justifies the killing of their entire season and, perhaps, the team itself.

By the way, Coach Belichick makes 3,000,000 a year salary.  I know he probably has endorsement deals and other things to raise that figure, but don’t think he’s going to feel a half million bucks go out of his bank account without it hurting.

Formula 1 My bad bsd987. I didn’t notice that you mentioned Belichick’s fine also.

With regards to Mclaren’s fine, 100 million is a big number whichever way you look at it. But then again, Formula 1 is not heavily considered as the most expensive sport in the world for nothing.

These guys spend close to half a billion dollars on their teams.

A “regular” one year sponsorship – of you can even call it that – costs about 20 million dollars.

You can just imagine how 100 million dollars can just roll of their backs easy.

haha I’m actually a stubborn Atlanta fan with little emotional attachment to the NFL. I just really don’t like Goodell.

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