Today, BigBlueShoe of SBNation Colts blog Stampede Blue issued a challenge to his fellow SBN bloggers to take Spygate with the seriousness it demands. I try to avoid straying too far off the path to Atlanta here, but I can't resist a challenge, especially when I'm not specifically cited as one of the network's "talented writers." I take umbrage to that, sirrah!
With a crack of the knuckles, let's jump into one of the most lamely named scandals in recent history.
It may very well be true that the New England Patriots have cheated over the course of the last several years. The NFL and new eager beaver Sen. Arlen Specter are going to be leaning heavily on Matt Walsh, who says he has materials and testimony which could essentially bury the Pats. If that's the case, then Belicheck should see the same treatment as Michael Vick got: an indefinite ban. That should extend as far as it needs to go, to anyone involved. I don't think many of us here are going to defend cheating, particularly videotaping of other teams practicing. It's inexcusable.
But here's the thing. There's a lot of allegations here, as BigBlueShoe notes, but they're just allegations. Maybe it's because I spend my days as a newspaper reporter, but I'm pretty squeamish with the idea that we should somehow take allegations as statements of fact. Matt Walsh can hint at what he has all he wants, but until he provides some damning evidence, he's just talking. I don't think we're in any danger of this going away, but people are waiting for action, waiting for documentation, and waiting for something with more substance than the words of an ex-employee who mysteriously didn't step forward until the day before the Super Bowl. I think we all have a right to expect the truth here, if it's possibly to get the whole truth from what is obviously a web of lies from at least one side.
It's fine to speculate. I'd say more than half of what I do here is analyze and guess what the team might do next, and so doing the same for what has the possibility to be the biggest scandal in NFL history is also fine by me. I just don't believe in establishing guilt with zilch in the way of evidence to do so with. Yes, we know that the Patriots have been involved in a film scandal once already. None of us are free from the suspicion that it was done more than once...but again, where's the proof?
I don't even like the Patriots, either. I do love the NFL, but if there was a cover-up I could certainly see the reasons for it. That kind of thing can be very damaging to a multi-billion dollar industry, particularly because it seems naive to believe that the Patriots are the only team in history to cheat--if indeed they did. I just want to see this responsibly researched by the NFL and groups well outside the league. I just don't expect this to be a two-week process, so I'll be keeping an eye on it as it unfolds over the coming months.
I don't mean this to be anywhere near a comprehensive look at Spygate--and seriously, stop with the f'n gates already, it's rapidly getting stale--but I would like to start conversation. How would you feel if the Falcons were involved in this scandal? What should be the punishment if guilt is established? And as an NFL fan, how much do you care?