Friday, September 14, 2007

I regret that you think I was cheating

I don't really understand why players and coaches are fined for being critical of the officiating in a game. Let's say the officiating was so bad that something like an extra down was awarded to one of the teams. The players and coaches should be free to say That officiating sucked. Shouldn't they?

Officials can ruin a game by neglecting those acts that both teams expect will be repeated consistently and predictably.

Here's the lovely counterbalance: football is largely the competitive planning organizing and executing of plays and formations that are intended to both respond to and influence the plays that the opposing team might call. I love that the "might" is so important. Without it the sport becomes less interesting. Flexibility and adjustment is a big part of a successful team's strategy.

So there are some fines that make more sense to me. Fines that discourage dishonesty and flat out cheating. Something like the half-million dollar fine that was levied on Bill Belichick.

When a lackey was caught with a video recorder on the sidelines Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots organization was fined $250,000. Videotaping is against the rules. There was no question that the team had broken a rule--a good rule--so a fine was reasonably imposed. Earlier Belichick issued a statement: "Earlier this week, I spoke with [NFL] Commissioner [Roger] Goodell about a videotaping procedure during last Sunday's game and my interpretation of the rules."

According to league spokesman Greg Aiello "The rule is that no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game."

In a reaction to the fine Belichick stated: "My interpretation of a rule in the Constitution and Bylaws was incorrect."

In his first statement I notice that he calls it "a videotaping procedure." What difference would the definite article make? If he had referred to the videotaping procedure (even without the insist) the admission is that there was a specific act of which he is aware and which he knows everyone is expecting him to address. Using the indefinite article is a sly little dodge. "What camera? I don't see a camera. Is that ours? about that? What was that employee of mine doing? Really?" Then he turns to the press and says "Apparently there was some video tape stuff going on. The commissioner told me about it."

But that's not the ballsiest lingual legerdemain. How about those "interpretation" lines? So the rule says no video taping equipment of any kind is allowed. Other rules state that the equipment can only be used when there are walls all around and a roof overhead. Those are pretty clear. Where did Belichick find a loophole in the interpretation of these rules? "no video recording devices of any kind" I thought you meant some kinds of equipment are allowed.

The AP story; and the Bloomberg story.

Belichick's Reaction as posted on

It's a weak apology. He apologizes for the effect of his cheating not for the cheating. He even offers a lame it wasn't really cheating because it didn't work excuse. And he continues to insist that he didn't realize he was doing anything wrong. So where's the appeal? Where's the insistence that the rule needs to be changed and he shouldn't pay the half million? I put up a bigger fight on a sixth-grade grammar test when I knew the question was worded poorly.

I accept full responsibility for the actions that led to tonight's ruling. Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused. I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career.

As the Commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week's game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.

Part of my job as head coach is to ensure that our football operations are conducted in compliance of the league rules and all accepted interpretations of them. My interpretation of a rule in the Constitution and Bylaws was incorrect.

With tonight's resolution, I will not be offering any further comments on this matter. We are moving on with our preparations for Sunday's game.


  1. NFL policy states that “no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game” and that all video shooting locations for club coaching purposes “must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead.”

    The question is not if video is allowed--but where dunbo.

  2. I realize that.

    I certainly wasn't implying that the league has the right to ban video equipment from ever being used by anyone in the NFL in any place.

    The rule says "on the field" and the camera was seized on the field.

    And the roof? What did he think counted as a roof?

    Facetiously attributing to Belichick the statement " 'no video recording devices of any kind' I thought you meant some kinds of equipment are allowed" I felt it was safe to leave it as an elliptical statement in which such preposition phrases as "in the stadium" or "on the field" were understood.

    I'm guessing they were understood by most readers.



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