Friday, February 1, 2008

Specter Knows Even Less About Football Than He Does About The Constitution

Hard to believe I know. It's strange that Sen. "Snarlin'" Arlen Specter didn't voice his concern about this when it happened last September. It's a transparent bid for publicity. It's a text book case of Republican misdirection. Personally, I think the senior Senator from Pennsylvania is still pissed that the Patriots beat the Eagles three years ago.

Specter's clearly lost his last remaining marble. In today's NY Times, the delusional Republican Senator (Is there any other kind?) claims:

“The N.F.L. has a very preferred status in our country with their antitrust exemption. The American people are entitled to be sure about the integrity of the game. It’s analogous to the C.I.A. destruction of tapes. Or any time you have records destroyed.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Snarlin' Arlen has his panties in a bunch over this when he's actively enabled the worst President in American History to mangle our Constitution in a power grab so bold that it would give Stalin a chubby?

Get a grip, Senator. Get a grip.

The NFL rules were somewhat vague (check out the SportsProf's take) but the intent was clear. Bill Belichick attempted to exploit that gray area and got popped for it. Subsequently, the NFL issued a major clarification of this rule when Belichick's & the Pats' punishment docking them a 1st round pick & $750000 was announced.

Not wanting any more negative attention in this year of Pacman & Michael Vick, the NFL did their best to sweep "Spygate" under the rug ASAP. The league was extremely bent that someone at 410 Park Ave. leaked a clip to Fox. My sources tell me that the tapes were destroyed at least in part to stop additional leaks and to prevent other teams learning anything from the Patriots' methods.

The lack of specifics as to what exactly went down is precisely the reason for so much residual angst. But you really have to know jack all about the complexity of NFL football to believe that someone on the sidelines could effectively steal another team's signals.

When a coach signals in plays, some are dummy calls, some change weekly and some may never be seen again. For this to work during a game, taped signals would have to be transmitted to a crew specifically assembled to interpret the signals. Once the code was broken, the code would have to be explained to spotters with binoculars trained on the opponent’s sideline. These spotters would have about 10 seconds to translate the opponent's signal and alert their sideline for it to be of any use to their team. If the opponent then changes the play at the line of scrimmage, it's all for naught.

The Patriots were certainly recording how long it took each opponent to get their defensive sub packages on and off the field according to game clock, down & distance and score. This explains the Pats' productive penchant for suddenly going to a hurry-up offense in a situation that wouldn't obviously call for such haste.

The Patriots aren't the only team that has ever done this. Jimmy Johnson has freely admitted to doing it during the Cowboys' '90s Super Bowl run. The Pats weren't even the only team do it last year. Regardless, it was a violation of NFL rules and the Patriots were severely punished...but not exactly for "stealing signs."


**Update: Sports Illustrated's Peter King rips Specter and offers his insights on the Phoenix circus.

***Update #2 -- In his annual Super Bowl press conference NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated:
I’m not sure that there’s a coach in the league that doesn’t expect that their signals are being intercepted in some way by opposing teams and that’s why they go to the great lengths. I think it was Coach Parcells that I heard earlier this season who said “Any coach who doesn’t expect his signals to be stolen is stupid.” It’s pretty simple but I think to the large extent teams understand that’s a risk and they have prepared for that.
**Disclaimer: I am a life-long New England Patriots fan. My ass is still callused from sitting on those aluminum Schaeffer Stadium benches all those years ago. This does not prevent me from being critical of the Patriots or objective on this subject.