Sunday, September 16, 2007

Will Nancy Grace Replace Peter King on the Pregame Show Tonight?

In 90 minutes the NFL will start playing games, and the comic spy novel featuring Bill Belichick will be forgotten by one and all, especially him. At the risk of beating the stuffed Trigger at the Roy Rogers Museum, I offer the following thoughts on what to me is a salient question about this affair, namely, how on earth did Belichick think he would get away with it?

The facts as we know them on the morning of September 9, 2007 were as follows. The NFL had sent a notice to every team that it would be on the lookout for illegal videotaping of opposition coaches. It had sent a further, specific warning to the Patriots they were persons of interest to the league's inquiries into the practice. New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini was in charge of the spying operation for New England when he was an assistant coach under Belichick.

To go ahead and keep taping the Jets, therefore, qualifies Belichick for the "incredibly stupid crook of the day" segment on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown. But Belichick isn't stupid. Anything but. Idiocy is not the motive here.

Arrogance has been suggested as the reason for Belichick's uncharacteristically foolhardy behavior. Belichick, like all accomplished people, can indeed be arrogant at times. But that not arrogant. Based on very close observation of the man, this blogger has always found Belichick's ability to suppress his ego when necessary to be one of his managerial strengths. This has been especially true since Belichick allowed a clash of wills with Lawyer Milloy to cost the Pats the worst beating of their championship era.

If we rule out stupidity and arrogance, what's left? What possible reason could there have been for Belichick to think he could get away with videotaping the Jets' signals?

"When we eliminate the impossible, what is left, however improbable, must be the truth," said Sherlock Holmes. The sole possible explanation for Belichick's decision to keep taping after being told not to that makes a lick of sense is this: He didn't think Mangini would blow the whistle on the crime. He didn't think any NFL opponent would.

And, of course, the only reason Belichick would have to believe that is if videotaping opposition signals is common, no, universal practice among the 32 NFL franchises. If that's the case, it was logical for logic freak Belichick to assume no other team would lead commissioner Roger Goodell to look under this particular rock.

Logic seldom has better than a .500 record in sports. Mangini did blow the whistle. And here we are.

And there are the 31 other NFL franchises. Each one playing the New England Patriots will have a determined, intelligent, paranoid enemy on the other sideline. It is logical to conclude part of Belichick's game plans will include intense scrutiny of possible rules violations by his foe down to uniform code violations.

Belichick, after all, has a half-a-million reasons to get even.


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