Inside Conditions…Crime and Punishment

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Okay, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is finally paying the “piper” for allegedly interfering with Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones while he was in the process of returning a kick during the recent Steelers/Ravens skirmish.

A $100,000 fine was recently levied on Tomlin in regards to alleged “act of football terrorism” because no one can really say whether his “confession” was coerced or not.

The league also said that; “It will consider a forfeiture of draft choices for the Steelers because Tomlin’s conduct affected a play on the field.

The fine is tied for the second-largest reported fine ever given to an NFL coach. First place belongs to the New England Patriots and their headmaster Bill Belichick who in 2007 had his hands slapped by having to fork out $500,000 “rubles” for invading the privacy of several other if not all of the additional franchises in the NFL.

When I think of cheating or interference the first thing that leaps to the front of my mind as far as a penalty comparison goes is the 2007 New England Patriots “spygate” scandal.

I have written about the “Belicheat” scandal several times but; here I go again.

First of all how in the hell can the two acts even be mentioned in the same breath? One act was a calculated, premeditated and deliberate act designed by a few individuals and carried out by many in order not to only affect the outcome of a game or two but ultimately redesigned and altered the outcome of professional football and sports history.

Coach Belichick was very much aware of the  NFL’s Constitution & Bylaws (article 9) that clearly stated that: “Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant, of any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited, including without limitation videotape machines, telephone tapping, or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game.”

The final ruling and penalty resulting from these insidious actions were this. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 by the NFL, the maximum amount permitted under the NFL Constitution and By-Laws for violating league policy regarding the use of equipment to videotape an opposing team’s offensive or defensive signals.

The Patriots were fined $250,000 by the NFL. The Patriots gave up their first-round pick in 2008 because they make the playoffs and eventually lost to the NY Giants in the Super Bowl.

At the time that the incident was discovered and adjudicated NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the Patriots that: “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field. I specifically considered whether to impose a suspension on Coach Belichick.  I have determined not to do so, largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first-round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long-lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension.”

There are some people that will never take responsibility for their actions. At the time “Belicheat” I meant to say Belichick did not say, I take responsibility for encouraging an illegal act to be committed by my subordinates in order to get a leg up on the competition defined his actions as a “mistake” saying;” I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused”

Dictionary.com defines the word mistake as: ” mis•take PA noun, verb, mis•took, mis•tak•en, mis•tak•ing. noun 1. an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc. 2. a misunderstanding or misconception.

There was no mistake that occurred in regards to the heinous actions of Bill Belichick,  the New England Patriots or their staff.  Mike Tomlin made a “misstep” Bill Belichick plain and simple “misled.”

If Mike Tomlin had been discovered illegally recording another teams signals, the past, present and future of all Black NFL head coaches including but not limited to Tony Dungy,  Lovie Smith, Dennis Green would have been examined and reexamined.

In my opinion the suspension or even the expulsion of Bill Belichick at the time that the Patriots violations were discovered would have been justified because more than likely a new or interim coach would may have brought in a new or revised system and that could have created a whole new set of problems for the personnel of the Patriots.

Case in point, look at the affect that the 1 year  suspension of New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton had on his team as a result of the bounty scandal.

In March of 2012, Payton was suspended for one year.  The team was also forced to forfeit their second round pick in 2012 and ’13 and pay $500,000 as a result of the NFL’s bounty investigation, the league announced. The Saints were 7-9 in 2012 during his suspension.

In 2013 they sit atop their division at 10-3 and are a lock to make the playoffs.

Tell me that a suspension of your head coach doesn’t hurt. The Saints actions may have been immoral, possibly harmful to the opposition but they did not “cheat.

In the 2004-2005 NFL AFC Championship game between the Steelers and the Patriots it has been established that the Patriots may have cheated as well and went on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Why aren’t there any asterisks attached to the Patriots many hallowed victories.  My uncle Will used to say; “it’s only a fair fight if you win.” “Cheaters win all of the time but you can bet they will win most of the time.”

Aubrey Bruce can be reached at; abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741

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