The Media Versus The Patriots

There is a land across the sea; a vast land with occasionally vast people in it. It is the land where everyone is assumed innocent until proven guilty by enforced public opinion. It is the land where spying on citizens, intercepting their emails, tapping their phones, and quite possibly inserting cameras in ceiling tiles above every toilet cubicle in the country to stamp out forbidden consensual acts of homolove is all accepted with little more than a whimper from the seated masses, their representatives in power, and the media who feed them their daily dose of Things We Tell You To Think®. Americaland.

So what’s making the news in Americaland these days?

The New England Patriots were caught doing something illegal during a recent football game. The New England Patriots cheated. The New England Patriots’ reputation is shredded. The New England Patriots spoilt Christmas for little Jimmy. The New England Patriots were working in league with Osama all along.

Really? Apparently so. If you listen to the media. Which you shouldn’t. Ever.

What Did The New England Patriots Actually Do?
PatriotsThe Patriots used a video camera to record the play-calling of their opponents – The Mangini Nancyboys out of New Jersey – from the sideline during the game. This is against the rules. Bad Patriots. Naughty Patriots. What’s not against the rules is:

  • using a camera to record the play calling of opponents from booths at the ends of the field or on the 50-yard line (which everyone does),
  • taking still photographs, printing, and writing on them (which everyone does),
  • using binoculars to spy on your opponents and making notes about plays (which everyone does),
  • just looking across at the opposing bench and field and writing down what you see (which everyone does),
  • employing players who use their ears to listen to opposing calls, their eyes to see what the opposing team does, their brains to remember what happened, and their mouths to mention this to their teammates and coaches (which everyone does),
  • asking new members of former teams about the play calls of their previous employers (which everyone does),
  • sacrificing chickens and examining their entrails to identify defensive formations long in advance (which the Arizona Cardinals do to awesome effect!)

The video camera-taping by the Patriots did not provide a direct feed into heads-up displays in the helmets of the team. Head Coach Bill Belichick does not have a cybernetic implant that allows him to tune into video camera feeds wirelessly. He does have cybernetic implants. Just not that one.

The Patriots broke a rule for the convenience of taking notes. Yes they did. Not for cheating. Getting the information recorded from the video camera back for analysis probably takes far longer than the allowed methods of taking photos and writing on them so it wasn’t even to make reacting to opponents’ games more efficient; it was for the convenience of having a tape for later. They shouldn’t have done it but they did. There was no advantage gained during the game.

End Of Story.

Enter The Media
No, not quite End Of Story.

Getting the public worked up in a frenzy about illegal wiretaps? Ooh, that sounds like hard work. That’s politics. That’s the sort of thing that’s important in the world. Difficult to sell. Difficult to call in interesting "experts" to make wild accusations and formulate preposterous theories. Might have to give that one a miss.

Getting the public worked up in a frenzy about a minor sporting rule infraction by construing it as the tip of a grand cheating ring of terror? Hello! Promo-makers: quick! To the editing suite! Remember to add flames and horns! This is BIG! Phone up everyone who ever lost a game to the Patriots or who just has a grudge because they’re the most successful team in the sport right now! They’re just the sorts of people who might be persuaded to consider the possibility that Tom Brady broke into their homes, rifled through their game notes and used their toilet without flushing prior to their crushing defeat four years ago. Graphic artists! The other channels have 3D, rotating, metallic logos proclaiming "Patriot Videogate Controversy Threatens Polar Bears". Can’t. Be. Beaten. We need … lens flares on ours! NOW! Should we produce a segment discussing the political machinations in the NFL and considering whether the video-taping rule would simply have been changed had the Colts been found doing this? God No! Too confusing for our viewers’ minds! Keep it simple folks! Focus on heartbreaking stories of cancer victims dying knowing that the Patriots just might be a big bunch of cheating scum! Video inserts of Eric Roberts in Runaway Train saying "You was my hero Manny” – GO! Music library! Janes Addiction, Been Caught Stealing – GO!

The media: journalists, presenters, producers, directors, analysis teams. We listen less and less to traditional media these days thanks to a wider world connected by the internet. In their competitive, shrinking niche they need to shout louder to be heard because that’s where the money is. The importance of a story, sadly, is one of the first casualties to this approach. It’s how the story can be marketed that becomes the bottom line. Are celebrities involved? Did something juicy happen? Can the story be turned into a long-running, audience-captivating, advertiser-pleasing soap opera?

Sober, honest fact-reporting? I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

Author: Mark

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10 Comments

  1. This is right. It all boils down to whether there was any advantage to any of this and there clearly wasnt. If you ask me they should really stop a team from rushing to snap the ball while the defense is swapping over and getting a penalty. That seems to be more of gaining an unfair advantage not in the spirit of the game than any videotaping.

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  2. Is this some sort of joke? Look, yank your Belichick apologist head out of your Tom Brady blow up doll’s ass for a second and heed these words: THEY ARE CHEATERS! You made a few good points pertaining to the fact that, yes, most teams:

    Do spy on the other teams signals,
    do take still photos to be reviewed after every series to be matched up and dissected,
    do ease-drop on the quarter back cadence to gain an advantage,
    do recruit ex-teammates for no other reason than to get them to divulge certain “trade secrets”.

    However, the reason they are being so heavily penalized is due to the brazen nature of the offense. They all might meet the same ends at day’s end but no one has ever had the balls to actually point a video camera directly at the defensive play caller on a series of downs only to have it rushed up to the box to match the call to the play. The Pats have been doing this for years and years. This is the first time the league office has had the balls to do something about it. And the only reason for that IS the aforementioned. They got so full of their own shit they didn’t even try to hide it anymore. The Pats admittedly have more than enough talent to smash the vast majority of their opponents with relative ease. Yes they are one of the most prolific franchises in all of sports history. Yes Belly Chick has earned more than enough respect as a head coach and can look forward to his line of Disheveled Clothing for the Masses hoodies and other such garments that make you look “as creepy as you wanna be” to further pad his retirement fund so he can look back on all this and laugh…when he is disposed from the hall of fame for being a fucking cheat.

    If you think what he did/what he has been doing is not all that wrong just go ahead and get yourself a face full of the press conference after these allegations, fines, and draft pick revocation were levied. Not only was Belly Chick squirming like a fish on a hook; he did NOT directly address any of this. Nothing. Nada. He only answered “I am concentrating on San Diego….’s playbook….errr…game….errr…wanna buy a hoodie?”

    Keep making your excuses buddy. Keep fellating your beloved Patsies. Revel in the dismantling of a struggling team (Chargers). But let’s see where we are all @ in mid December. All I gotta say is GO BILLS!

    Jerk.

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  3. Malice, what they did wasn’t that wrong. I said it. In fact, with the number of cameras at a game, number of staff on the sidelines, number of fans in the stadium, number of players on the field, number of scouts in air balloons over training fields with telephoto zoom lenses, and number of military satellites being trained on head coaches’ clipboards, the rule stating no video taping from the sidelines is patently ludicrous. It’s roughly equivalent to saying that you’re allowed to record absolutely everything at a football game for training purposes BUT it must be on video tape and not DVD because the ability to skip immediately to the next chapter gives an unfair advantage.

    As for Bill; I didn’t see any squirming. I saw Bill Belichick being Bill Belichick. Just like he’s been at every press conference ever. The fine was offset immediately by his new contract and pay rise. And the Pats had 2 first round picks anyway; now they’ll be back to 1. That’s gonna hurt. Someone. Maybe. Probably some college kid who wanted to play for a good team and not be concerned with the huge salary will now be forced to join the – pick a name at random – Bears (did you see that one coming?) instead.

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  4. Either everyone knew about the signal stealing or the Pats only recently started. Mangini can’t have it both ways otherwise he’s admitting he’s as guilty when he used to work there. Its a bit of a coincidence that the Jets discover all this. And I like that bit about possibly changing the rules if it had been the Colts doing it. :)

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  5. Gah!! I thought I escaped football nuttiness when I came back home!!

    I just had to deal with a state filled with HS football fanatics, ya know.

    It did not go over well when I said ‘It was just a game’ (And the team had WON!!–yet they were still annoyed at how they played–the dipshits) I barely made it out alive, man.

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  6. "What he did wasn’t that wrong."

    Yeah, wow. So when someone busted into your house and copped your laptop (we all still know it was an inside job you denial freak) they didn’t break your door or take any of your change or your camera right? So I guess that wasn’t that wrong right?

    You see young Mark, people that make these ‘patently ludicrous’ rules do it without the bias that you are displaying right now! I am sure the scumbag [cat] would agree that the breaking and entering rules of your island are pretty dumb too. And yes you saw creep time squirming like the backhanded asshole he is. I really did respect the guy until I saw that. I can see keeping a tight lip about certain personal things such as contracts, salaries, why he rapes his dogs. But something like this should have been addressed. He took his gruff, private, don’t-say-much exterior and traded it in for smug asshole.

    You know I’m right. I think I know a thing or two about being an asshole.

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  7. on the upside, in the Unending War On Terror ™, this could encourage the US army to pull out of Iraq and invade gridiron dressing rooms in the comfort and convenience (both for them and for the rest of the world) of their own country.

    that’s got to be a good thing.

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  8. I still haven’t figured out why what the Patriots did was wrong. In baseball every team spends the whole game trying to steal the other team’s signals. In football, coaches hold their ckipboards over their months while calling plays because they know TV cameras are on them. Evidently there’s an NFL (No-Fun-League) rule against it, which makes no sense at all.

    Malice clearly has been drinking the NFL Kool-Aid too long. However, he is clearly 100% right that he has experience being an asshole. Maybe we’ll see him in that competition at the next Olympics.

    Great, fun article!!

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