The taping scandal: Ban Belichick
To take license with a famous Harold Laski quote, when the rules of the game prove unsuitable for victory, the gentleman of New England changes the rules of the game.
By any reasonable standard of sportsmanship, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick should lose his situation.
Mr. Belichick was fined $500,000 last year by the NFL when the franchise was caught taping coaches’ signals during a game with the New York Jets. The team was fined another $250,000 and forfeited a first-round draft pick.
Now comes word, from The New York Times, that, as many suspected, this was no isolated incident. The employee responsible for the taping has turned over to the league eight tapes, including rather sophisticated two-angle shots from the Pats’ 2002 AFC Championship Game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
All of this only reaffirms how the signal-stealing taping was no lark but an expansive and well-organized cheating operation.
The NFL could choose to levy additional fines and penalties against Mr. Belichick and the Patriots. It could even suspend Belichick. But those punishments are too lenient.
Sadly, “cheating” and “sport” have become synonymous. And if the Patriots have any integrity, they’ll fire Belichick. And if the NFL has any guts, it will ban Bill Belichick from the league.
Anything less renders sportsmanship meaningless.