New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s statements to members of the media during press conferences have always been fleeting. His approach is one carefully devised in a reserved manner, which is done in order to minimize attention to the day-to-day operations of what transpires in Foxborough while also inhibiting the possibility of an opponent exploiting a team weakness.
Simply put, Belichick and the Patriots move in silence.
For the past 19 years, the calculated strategy has been an exercise in smoke and mirrors, which provides mystique to what actually goes on behind the curtains of Gillette Stadium.
That misdirection was on full display once again Tuesday, as Belichick denied any knowledge of a videographer who was discovered taping the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during their matchup against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday.
The individual is an independent contractor hired by the Patriots, who was supposed to be filming a segment following an advanced scout in the press box, as part of a film series following employees that is distributed on the team’s website.
According to ESPN, Belichick denied any involvement in the matter saying he “didn’t have anything at all to do with this” after transmitting a statement saying, “We’re competitive and we’ll try to be competitive in every area. But we don’t knowingly, intentionally want to do anything that’s across the line.”
The six-time Super Bowl-winning coach further added, “But since that’s [Spygate] happened, I’d say we’ve tried to keep a good distance behind the line and not maybe take it as far as we would might have in the past. But it’s never really fundamentally changed there.”
Spygate is an incident that occurred in 2007 where an unauthorized Patriots employee was caught recording video footage of the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets. A league investigation discovered tapes of game footage and written notes that dated back seven seasons. As a result, the National Football League administered discipline in the form of a $500,000 fine to Belichick, and the Patriots’ were stripped of their first-round pick in the 2008 draft.
The latest incident is the second illegal video footage discovery during Belichick’s tenure in New England. However, if convicted of wrongdoing, it would become the third stain on a resume that suggests the 67-year-old Nashville, Tennessee native is the greatest coach in the history of the NFL.
That separate incident references the Deflategate scandal that stemmed from the 2014-15 AFC Championship game. Following the Patriots’ victory, a controversy ensued suggesting New England Quarterback Tom Brady ordered the deliberate deflation of game balls. As a result of a league investigation conducted to look into the matter, it was later determined that the allegation of Brady’s wrongdoing was in-fact verifiable. The signal-caller was eventually suspended four games. Meanwhile, the league also fined New England $1,000,000 and forced the organization to forfeit two draft picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, which again included a first-rounder.
History suggests there may be more-than-meets-the-eye regarding Belichick’s recent position in the Cincinnati controversy. Although there is no evidence condemning anyone of premeditated cheating at this point, an in-depth league investigation is currently being conducted to determine whether-or-not the Patriots’ organization had any knowledge of the wrongdoing.
This Patriots’ dynasty has appeared in nine Super Bowls during the Belichick/Brady era in New England. Together, the duo is responsible for winning team owner Robert Kraft a total of six Lombardi Trophies as league champions. Both the coach and player, in seasons past have been found guilty of deliberately breaking rules in order to gain an edge to win football games.
So why at this point in time would a fanbase, the league office, or critics be intrigued by the idea that this developing investigation is any different?
Whether or not innocent or guilty, Belichick and the New England Patriots franchise as a whole does not receive the benefit-of-the-doubt in the matter. Simply put, they’ve been caught cheating twice. Although it may be premature, it’s likely this is another case of strategic wrongdoing under the heralded coach’s watch.
In every facet of the game, the detail-oriented Belichick is carefully calculated and precise. His Patriots’ team is operated with the strength of an iron fist and observed through the lens of a microscope where every minimalistic action is critiqued, coached, and expected to be executed.
This philosophy is the lifeblood of New England’s cultural foundation.
Belichick’s comments suggest that although the team is more aware of the distinct line separating what’s morally right and wrong in the Football universe, that fundamentally their tactics as a team have not changed.
Read between the lines and it’s blatantly obvious that not only does Belichick completely disregard the idea of fair play, but he also mocks it. Failed attempts at true disciplinary action administered by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL in seasons past are partially to blame for the continued disrespect for the league’s rulebook.
What exactly do a million dollars, and a couple of draft picks mean to a billionaire and the brightest-mind to ever pace the NFL sidelines? Obviously, it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of winning the season’s final game.
In typical Belichick fashion, this entire incident reeks of strategic manipulations of statements, positions, and tactics in order to gain the upper hand against opponents, while simultaneously attempting to provide defense from yet another league conviction.