New England Patriots

Super Bowl 46: For The Love Of Evil

I'm from Boston. I was raised in Brockton. The Patriots practically play in my backyard. But even I, objective blogger that I am, can acknowledge that Bill Bellichick is evil, and Tom Brady is an asshole. Their 'fuck you and the world' attitude is a stain on Boston area pro sports. Older fans like myself, loved the Patriots of the late 1970s and 1985. Heck, we also love the happy team of 2001-2002. But since 2007, the Patriots have been angry and driven to notch five Lombardi trophies. Either you have loved this, you you have been disgusted by it.

And yet, after saying that I am somewhat disgusted by it, I have this strong feeling that the New Jersey Giants don't stand a chance in Super Bowl 46. Neither team will be able to establish a running game and control the clock. Both quarterbacks will throw long. But the key difference is that Brady finds his targets (actually he transmits where the ball is going through his throws), while Eli Manning simply throws the ball. 

My prediction? It won't be pretty. Patriots 45, Giants 10. It will practically be over after the first quarter.

Fair And Square

There isn't much for me to say about last Sunday's big games involving the New England Patriots and Newcastle United. Both teams were beaten, fair and square.

The Patriots, in particular, were soundly dominated by the Jets. It was shameful. It was inexcusable. But the Patriots are a resilient team. They have the right leadership. They have the right quarterback and coach. And they have some juicy draft picks to make or trade this spring. They will reload and make yet another run for the elusive fourth Super Bowl victory.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United very nearly defeated Sunderland in the Stadium of Light. But Steve Harper had his potentially historic clean sheet ruined in the 94th minute of stoppage time. It was a heartbreaking draw. But the Mags have no choice but to move on to a more challenging stretch of their schedule and do what they can to earn those final six or nine points required for safety.

Cool Your Jets

I think all major market sports teams have a fanatic supporter base.  That's why they're called 'fans' after all. And their moods can be extreme - almost bipolar. Fans can go from ecstatic one week to deflated the next.

Newcastle United supporters know about "Geordie Optimism."  We Americans know about the undying loyalty of Red Sox and Green Bay Packers fans.  We know abut the near-cult followings of the Forty-Niners, Raiders, Bruins, Broncos, and Redskins (Aren't Raiders fans the craziest of them all?).

And then there are the Jets.  Even in a major market that includes the chest-pounding Yankees, the Wall Street-funded Giants, and the ever popular (no matter how awful) Knicks, the Jets have a special place for exuberant, illogical, unfounded optimism.  It is a hyper optimism that defies history (one Super Bowl appearance and victory) and an all too predictable track record.

Interesting how the franchises I think of when I think 'cult followings' comprise of mainly NFL teams.  The American professional sports league with the fewest teams has the most crazy fans.  Part of that is tailgate culture.  Another part of that is the weather.  American Football is a fall sport.  Perhaps being out in the cold makes sports spectators more likely to dress up in costumes and act a little more wild. Just a little theory I have.  Another theory is that when you only have eight home games each year, you make the most of them. Too bad American fans haven't been crazy enough to pen songs for their team and favorite players, like English football supporters.

While other NFL fan bases can be as crazy and as fanatic as Jets supporters, the Jets have this perpetual expectation of returning to the Super Bowl, when no such expectation should exist.  Call it Jets pride, or Jets optimism. But instead of sympathizing with them, they just irritate me. And the New York media, with its bipolar, overhyped coverage, only feeds the delusional dreams of Jets supporters.

I know about curses. I have learned that they are not curses at all, they are simply self-sustaining cycles of disappointing seasons. Call it fate. I can tell when the Sports Gods have doomed a team never to win another championship. The Knicks are one such team. The Jets are another. The Chicago Cubs are another. And the San Francisco Giants, Raiders, Rangers, and Bruins are getting dangerously close to that status as well.

One Super Bowl, New Jersey.  That's all they are going to get.  It's not something to gloat about.  It's just the way it will remain.  What I do gloat about is how the New Jersey Jets created Tom Brady.  That's not a myth. It actually happened one autumn day in 2001.  Mo Lewis of the Jets collapsed Drew Bledsoe's lung and the rest was NFL history.

Yes, I am a Red Sox fan, and I know the same argument could be used against us - that we are perpetual, unrealistic dreamers. But there are differences. The Red Sox still made it to the World Series five times in their 86 years without a championship. The Red Sox still had MVPs, Cy Young winners, dream seasons, and Division banners. Red Sox fans, aside from the college students who are obnoxious and drink too much (does Fenway still allow them to buy four beers at a time?), are a mature, attentive crowd. They know baseball better than the average fan. They stay to watch the whole game, win or lose.  They have been filling Fenway to capacity since 1967. And they don't dress up in costumes (hard hats), pretend to be blue collar, or chant the letters that comprise the team's name. In other words, they are not so much in your face as Jets fans are.

The Red Sox have six League championships.  The Jets have one.  I could be proven incorrect one day, but I think that 1969 Super Bowl is the first and last championship for this franchise based in the swamps of northeast New Jersey. 

Interesting fact about Super Bowl III.  Not only was it at the legendary Orange Bowl in Little Havana, but the NBC announcer for the television broadcast was none other than the legendary Red Sox announcer, Curt Gowdy.  I love funny little coincidences like that.

Congratulations To The New Jersey Giants!

The evil Patriots were taken down in the second half of their 19th game of the 2007 season. The Giants deserve a lot of credit, especially their young players, who seemed to want it more, and fought harder for the victory. And we saw an escape and pass completion for the ages - Eli Manning to David Tyree. Eli Manning escaped a sack Doug Flutie style, and David Tyree caught a ball using one hand and his helmet - something we may never see again. It was incredible.

Expect the Patriots to be in Super Bowl 43. The Colts have nothing on them. And Belichick and the Pats are going to be hungry. But on Sunday, the Giants stopped them. They beat Tom Brady.

I will say one thing - it put a smile on my face to hear Giants fans chanting "Red Sox Suck" and "Boston Sucks" on my subway ride home from Noho. The fact that the Sox stick on their minds is very sweet. They are in for more pain this spring when the Sox take the AL lead again.

Patriots Destined To WIn Super Bowl 42

Charles P. Pierce in Slate explains why the final chance to stop the Patriots was last night against San Diego. The Chargers nearly pulled it off. Tom Brady had an off day, but woke-up, teamed-up with the incredible Kevin Faulk, and secured a ticket to the team's fourth Super Bowl. As Pierce reminds us:

In the last nine games, the New England defense has surrendered 57 points in the second half. In the two playoff games, it has given up a mere three field goals after halftime. Somebody's coaching during halftime, and somebody's surely listening.

"The Patriots Are Great. Deal With It."

Charles Pierce at argues that the American football world will just have to deal with the Patriots, now they have nearly sealed their amazing, record-setting season. We will never see anything this in the NFL ever again.

I love this tangent:

They are ludicrously better than 30 of the other teams in the league...And, best of all, they make all the right people angry.

That list starts, as it must, with the surviving members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, who decided years ago to break the world record for being publicly grumpy old farts, a mark previously held jointly by the McLaughlin Group and any show Louis Rukeyser hosted alone. Bob Kuechenberg's opinion has been almost universally unsought for more than three decades, and the last person who truly cared what Mercury Morris said about anything was a judge. Yet, all season, the Patriots found themselves heckled by the NFL equivalents of Statler and Waldorf from the old Muppet Show. Go down to the Metamucil section of South Beach, the lot of you, and shut up.

I juts returned to the office to learn that the Redskins have made the playoffs. That's a good story, too.

But what the hell is this? What will the Giants win, exactly? Their next game? Well yes, they should. But that might be all. Bring on Tampa? All righty then.

The New Jersey Jets: Responsible For The Rise Of Tom Brady. Responsible For The Rage Of Belichick. And Now, Exposed For What They Are: Rednecks.

I will always love the 1968/69 Jets. They had a swaggering franchise quarterback, who stuck it to the NFL, raised the trophy, and kissed the girls. It was a glorious moment and historical milestone. Think about it. The Colts were 22-point favorites. And the Jets came, saw, and conquered. It never gets old.

But it absolutely sucks to be a Jets fan right now. As a son of Massachusetts, I'm thrilled. Good. Let the Jets' depression continue for years and years. It has been ongoing almost all my life.

And you know it can get worse. And last week, it did.

In the New York Times, a long-overdue story emerged. Sometime earlier this decade, the Meadowlands became Houston, Texas. Chants of "Show us your tits," now echo through the concrete ramps of Gate D.

What's next? Quaaludes and crystal meth? Shotguns? Confederate flags? It wouldn't surprise me. Nothing from the disgusting bunch of classless fans in green and white surprises me anymore.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that this happens at Reliant Stadium in Houston. I am saying that it has happened quite a lot in Texas. There is a quote from a band member of Styx on VH1's Behind the Music that went something like, "Performing Kilroy was not going to go over well at the Texas Jam. I mean, this was Dallas and Houston in 1983. It was all about Quaaludes and 'show us your tits.'

On another note -

The Jets will never understand that every time they throw big punches against the Patriots, they only make the Patriots stronger. It's like shooting yourself in the foot multiple times. First Bill Belichick wrote, "I resign as HC of the NYJ." Not exactly the Jets' fault, but maube they should have seen that coming. Later, when Moe Lewis injured Drew Bledsoe in the fall of 2001, it opened the door for Tom Brady to become the greatest quarterback of the decade. When Eric Mangini reported the Patriots for videotaping Jets coaching signals from the sideline, all he did was awaken a slumbering titan named Bill Belichick, who has since decided to employ a scorched earth policy while advancing through the schedule and breaking the will of every single opponent.

And on December 16th, there is going to be a lot of pain and suffering for the poor Jets. It could be a pain of epic proportions. The Patriots might be favored with a 28-point spread.

And even then, I don't think the Jets or their fans will learn their lesson. There will be no moment when a hooded, evil Belichick mutters, "Only now, at the end, do you understand!" Oh no. The evil emperor knows that for the Jets, it never ends.

Never-ending suffering. That's the definition of hell.

Bill Belichick Is Evil

Bill Belichick is not as evil as Dick Cheney, but yesterday's post game press conference was downright scary. He was pretty much answering 'fuck you' to every question, just in a low-key, non-profane way. Bill Belichick has been doing this all season. But it was not as apparent as it was yesterday when he was taking questions from reporters regarding the merciless 52-7 smackdown of the Washington Redskins in Foxboro.

With 10 minutes left in the game, and the score 38-0, Belicheck ordered his team to keep driving on fourth down, resulting in a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. On the very next possession, with the score 45-0, the Patriots went forward on fourth down again, ultimately resulting in yet another touchdown. If that isn't running-up the score, then what is? And another question. What did the Redskins and veteran redneck coach Joe Gibbs, ever do to the Patriots?

A reporter called Belichick on his evil ways:

Q: At 38-0 you went for it on 4th down, on 45-0 you went for it on 4th down. What was the philosophy there?

BB: What do you want us to do, kick a field goal?

Q: I didn’t want you to do anything. I’m just asking what the philosophy is.

BB: It’s 38-0. It’s fourth down. We were just out there playing.

Then he shrugged.

Holy shit.

The still photos do not do this moment justice. You need to see the video footage (a photo from a TV is below). Belichick is looking almost at the camera. Instead of the humble-looking guy shown above, the Belichick in the video was glaring. He didn't answer the question until after a pause, and he spoke in a low, mumbled tone. I had to replay the moment on my DVR a couple of times to understand what he said. He was in full Dick Cheney 'Fuck the World' mode.

Former Oregon congressman Les AuCoin has called Dick Cheney 'morbid.' Compare Belichick above to the AuCoin's May 1987 memory of Cheney below:

On our second morning in Moscow, my friend, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), and I rose early to jog before the start of a long day of meetings. What could be more indicative of the new US-Soviet era than two U.S. congressmen trotting through Red Square, past Lenin's Tomb and the Kremlin, without clearance from a party apparatchik?

As we circled in front of St. Basil's Cathedral for our return, a spectral figure emerged in the distant mist. If someone had said the hunched man in the overcoat was Karla, the ethereal cold-blooded Soviet spymaster in John Le Carré's novels, you wouldn't have gotten an argument from me.

It turned out to be not Karla but Cheney, the second-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House, the senior Republican on the trip, George Bush Sr.'s soon-to-be secretary of defense -- and, ultimately, the real-life American version of the funereal Karla.

Steam rising from our sweat suits, Dicks and I were anxious to share our exuberant moment with Cheney. "Imagine, Dick!" Norm exclaimed. "Here we are, standing in the middle of Red Square. What does it make you think?"

Cheney gave a thin smile and replied, "Just that I'm standing on Ground Zero."

I knew Cheney for ten years as a fellow congressman and for four years when he was defense secretary and I, a member the House Defense Appropriations Committee.

When people ask me to describe Cheney, I say, "morbid."

I tell ya, I saw Belichick emulating Cheney yesterday. It was really scary. The man is evil. Yoda he is not.

I gave-up American football. It is a war game with very little flow and too much gambling behind the scenes. When I found out that guys in London bet on the NFL, I knew something was amiss. Despite that, I did enjoy seeing the professional team that plays 15 miles from my childhood home win three Super Bowls. I loved Steve Grogan as a kid. Same with Irving Fryer. The Patriots are (or were) a very likable team. Their first Super Bowl was by far the sweetest. Getting poetic justice over Oakland, then destroying Pittsburgh, and then defeating St. Louis were three of the greatest and most fun American football games I have ever seen.

However, since losing to the Colts in the playoffs last season, the Patriots began their journey towards the dark side. And now their journey is complete.

No, I'm not talking about the cheating - the stealing of other teams' signals. It is well understood that the Patriots were caught doing what other teams have done. No. I mean their absolute disregard for sportsmanship and their obsession to go through 2007 undefeated while running-up scores. I can almost see Belichick telling his players that the one responsible for the first loss of the season will have his beheading videotaped and posted on the Patriots website. It's scary.

And it's not just Belichick. Tom Brady went through a transformation. Brady has gone from underrated Wolverine QB, to backup QB, to adorable boy-wonder, to the next Joe Montana, to male model, and now he's a devouring alpha monster who can't put on a fucking condom.

John Clayton, ESPN:

Welcome to Belichick's no-mercy policy...Although criticism and questions about Belichick's moves will further paint him as the bad guy in his showdown against Tony Dungy and the Colts next Sunday, the Pats coach simply doesn't care. He wore the black hoodie in the Week 1 spy incident and accepted his punishment. Now, he's making the league pay with blowouts
Redskins veterans Phillip Daniels and Marcus Washington, who have 18 years combined NFL experience, both said they had never seen a team run up the score the way the Patriots are doing.
Face it, folks, Belichick plans to lay waste to the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell took away a first-rounder, so the Patriots will take away your firstborn. Belichick has assembled perhaps the most dominating team in NFL history, and he's intent on destroying all opponents in his path...sending a message to the 31 other teams that the Pats will take no prisoners.

And the players? Why, they are just following orders!
"It's just something the coaching staff wants to do," wide receiver Donte' Stallworth said. "We're behind them for whatever they want to do. Whatever play they call, we are going to run it.

"We've been attacked since the start of the season, so we don't care. Whatever is going on out there, we just go out and play and try to execute what we are doing."

They are the executioners. They are running on rage, and a quality playbook.

Consequences For Two Cheating Teams

Two big cheating stories to report on today. Details are still developing, but the basic facts are known.

On one side of the Atlantic, we have the New England Patriots. On the other side, we have the McLaren F1 team. In both cases, we have reputations, future success, and revenues at risk.

First, the Patriots. It has been determined that the Patriots spied on the New Jersey Jets and stole / read their signals before plays were executed. It is blatant cheating and the Pats are going to have to be penalized in one or more ways. Bill Belichick might have to pay a very heavy price. He may have gone from Hooded Jedi Master status to Richard Nixon status in less than 72 hours.

Bill Simmons:

Here's the thing that shocks me: I always thought Belichick cared too much about his legacy to risk tainting it like this. He's a history buff and someone who allowed [David] Halberstam to follow him around simply because he understood the intrinsic value of a great writer capturing his "brilliance" in a widely read book. The whole thing is just bizarre. I'm a big Watergate buff, and there are some eerie parallels to last Sunday's Jets game and the '72 presidential election -- not just the spying symmetry, but that neither the Patriots nor Nixon needed to take the risk. Nixon had the '72 election locked up but was so paranoid, he allowed his guys to basically defame Edmund Muskie and George McGovern and tried to break into the Democratic headquarters multiple times. Belichick knew he had a better team than the Jets, but he tried to steal their signals anyway. Let's hope this doesn't lead to a disgraced Belichick climbing on a private jet in 18 months and raising his arms defiantly in the air.

Don Banks:

You know who should be the maddest at Belichick and the cloud of suspicion that his actions have cast on the organization? The Patriots players themselves who were a part of those three Super Bowl championships. If those successes were all legitimate, as they very likely were, then those players have every right to be furious at the notion that this damage to their legacy was entirely self-inflicted. And for what? A competitive edge that they already have in spades, in most cases, thanks to their superior players, coaches and preparation skills.

MLH contributor M:

Ok, both you guys follow football way more than I do...frankly I can't be bothered until after the Sox season winds down. The NFL has confirmed the Pats cheated with the camera thing. How bad is this? To me its cheat you lose. The Pats should be given the loss and the Jets the win. Any other penalties on top are probably ok too. I realize that the Pats players are innocent here and that the guilty is so far just a cameraman and probably the coaches.

But how tainted are they now? Did they cheat to win superbowls? Will that question be raised?

Or is all of this just an idiot with a camera and totally overblown?


One: They all cheat. Players, coaches, owners. With the money dolling out, all teams will employ whatever methods it takes to win games. Football, baseball, whatever. Steriods, HGH, video coaching in the dug to analyse swings (a la Big Papi)....I mean why does a third base coach have 27 different hand cues to convey the play? Why should football feel so violated that someone might try and figure out the blitz package? Why WOULDN'T you try to figure out what the other team is doing? These sports dicks use war terms so much why would trying to figure out what the "enemy" is doing in order to properly counter not be completely justified? Christ an average lineman weighed 265 pound about 15 years they are as fast as the runnings backs of that time and are twice as big! Something stinks here.

Two: This is EXACTLY like stealing signs. To me I am sure it helps to know what pitch is coming but how much it helps is another thing.

To me it is the culture we live in. Why would we believe sports to be any different from real life. Winning is all that matters and losers go home.

Another thing that struck me, if the Pats have been up to no good for a long time (previous Super Bowls etc) why didn't Mangini know that? My guess is they all do it. It just that the Jets were too stupid to change up the signals.

I guess I just feel that sports is just like everything else, integrity, purity, and fairness be damned, just win the damn game.


There's no question our value system particularly in sports culture is fucked up to high heaven. But to me that's no excuse. Ususally when these controversies arise it has something to do with "unwritten rules" stealing signs, throwing at a hitter, giving payback for a hit batsman by throwing at somebody else (but not at their head). Its tough to keep up or be objective since these rules are "unwritten". But this one is written and its pretty clear they cheated. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this camera business is fairly common place and Mangina just had the inside scoop because of his time with the Pats. I also think that yes the issue of performance enhancing drugs is very out of control. I find the Mitchell MLB investigation amusing. To me who cares who did steroids...for the most part they are not doing them anymore....they're doing HGH and other designer drugs now....and one look in the eyes of Giambi will tell you he's drugged to the gills. MLB is way behind the curve on that one...and the NFL isn't doing much better. Its like conducting an investigation into who had a nightcap before bed during Prohibition...its irrelevant now.

So yes to some extent "they all cheat" and unfortunately in our society where winning is everything people will continue to cheat. But when an individual or team is caught as blatantly as the Pats seem to have been the governing body (in this case the NFL) has to set an example. It can't just be an old boys club where everybody knows this goes on and crime is just the getting ought to be having committed the crime in the first place.

The notion of taking away draft picks seems harsh...just take the W away.
The Pats are good enough to overcome the loss....but not so good they'll try it again. Lesson learned and we move on.

On Thursday evening, the NFL handed down its punishment:

  • Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be personally fined $500,000
  • The Patriots organization will be fined $250,000
  • The Patriots will lose their 2008 first-round draft pick if they make the playoffs this season. If they somehow miss the playoffs, then they will lose their second and thrid round draft picks. Not a light penalty.

I was almost certain that the Patriots would have to forefit last Sunday's game against the Jets. I still think they should. It is shameful that they were caught cheating against the Jets.

I have been saying for years that the Jets are a terrible team - popular and overrated only because of their rabid fans and the New York media. Like the Knicks, they may never win another title.

I'm getting off-track again. OK, I'll lay off the Jets for today. After all, they were the victim here.





Ron Dennis is not pleased at all.

And now the more complicated story of McLaren, the F1 team that was having a monster comeback year in 2007. Following an awful season in 2006 in which the team lost Juan Pablo Montoya to NASCAR and Kimi Raikkonen to Ferarri, and points were hard to come by, 2007 was becoming the greatest rebound year the team could hope for. The team was successful from the first race March 18th in Australia with its two new drivers, defending F1 champion Fernando Alonso and rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton. McLaren, the favorite team among UK F1 fans, and still designated as a British car constructor, were dominating sports headlines and dominating race results from the beginning of the season. They were well on their way to winning the Constructor's Championship with Ferrari a distant second. And surely one of their drivers would win the Driver's Championship. In fact the biggest controvery in the team was whether Fernando could handle the possibuility of Lewis Hamilton scoring more points than him.

But as spring became summer, we learned that the team's chief race car designer, Mike Coughlan, was caught with a CD-ROM containing 780 pages of Ferrari technical documents - all intellectual property and trade secrets of Ferrari. It turns out that Coughlan obtained the CD-ROM in April from Ferrari Race Technical Director Nigel Stepney, a disgruntled senior team member in the final year of his contract.

News of the data transfer broke when Coughlan's wife alledgedly took a hard copy of the documents to a shop near Surrey to have them photocopied. The employee at the shop, realizing that they were genuine Ferrari documents, made a copy for himself and contacted Ferrari in Modena directly.

[It has been said many many times - stupid mistakes get people caught.]

In June, both Stepney and Coughlan approached Honda inquiring about job opportunities. Nothing substantive came out of those meetings. But it suggests the possibility that the leak of trade secrets was meant to eventually take Ferrari knowledge to Honda.

On July 3rd, Ferrari fired Stepney, and had criminal charges filed against the Coughlans after a warranted search of Coughlan's house produced the documents and CD-ROM. The Coughlans soon made a deal with Ferrari to tell them everything they knew. By late July, F1's governing body, the FIA, concluded an investigation which ruled that while the McLaren team had possession of the Ferrari documents, there was no evidence that McLaren used any of Ferrari's secrets in its 2007 car design.

Then came the FIA's ominous words - the investigation could be re-opened at any time, and McLaren could be penalized if new evidence was brought to the FIA regarding this espionage scandal.

In August, new evidence emerged suggesting that team McLaren used or looked at the Ferrari data, and today, an expensive punishment was handed-down to them. Their Constructor Championship points have been voided for the entire 2007 season. Ferrari are the new Constructor Champion points leaders. Furthermore, no McLaren team member, orher then their two drivers, may appear on the podium for the remainder of the season. But the drivers, Hamilton and Alonso, keep their championship points, and will be able to battle each other for the championship in the four remaining races this season. Plus McLaren will pay a $100 Million fine, which will include estimated lost revenue due to failing to win the Constructor's Championship.

Confusing? Yes. Is Ron Dennis pissed? Yes. But he has to take responsibility for the actions of his chief designer.