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The NFL Has Failed Us: The Patriots

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The New England Patriots are probably the most well known team in the NFL, and even outside of it. But more often than not, if you hear their name, it is in a negative context. (Outside of comments about Tom Brady‘s wife, which I don’t understand. She isn’t attractive.) I’d like to take this time to explore why the Patriots leave such a bad taste in so many people’s mouths, and yes, even borderline bash some of Tom Brady’s life choices. (It’s an opinion article. Deal with it, Patriots fans.)

The Beginning of the End

Though there is a long history of many teams in the NFL cheating over the years, the one most commonly accused (and with good reason) is the New England Patriots. There is a very palpable beginning to their story of subterfuge and debauchery, and it began not so long ago, on a field not so far away. While many of you already know the offenses, as well as the punishments, I’m going to use this article to go over each transgression, and then give you my personal thoughts on it as a whole. So strap in!


2007 – Spygate

September 9th, 2007. The game was New England vs New York (Jets). A lone cameraman stood on the sideline, videotaping the regular season game. However, there was something odd about this. For it was not the place that he was supposed to be standing. The rules say that anybody recording a game has to be surrounded by 3 walls and a roof. Therefore, the Patriots were fined $250,000, and Bill Belichik was fined a whopping $500,000. They were also docked their 1st round draft pick for the 2008 draft.


2007, 2010, 2012×2 – PEDs

Okay, so this one we are seeing more and more over time, and spread throughout the league. But this isn’t about other teams. This is about the New England Patriots, and how often they get caught with their pants down, but there seems to be no stopping them. For the uninitiated, PEDs are ‘performance enhancing drugs’, which are illegal in the NFL. They help players, well, enhance their performance, though illegally. It not only puts players that they face at higher risk of injury, but it also can affect the fair market value of players, as they are playing above their ‘true skill’ level. The Patriots have had 4 players (that I can recall) commit this violation. Rodney Harrison, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, and Brandon Boldin. Each of these players was suspended for 4 games upon discovery of this violation.

1986, 2013 – IRGate

Again, for the uninitiated, IR stands for ‘injured reserve’. It’s the list that you go on if you are unable to play due to some unfortunate circumstance, so the team doesn’t have to cut you. Now, the Patriots took it upon themselves to place two different members of their team on IR, therefore freeing up spots on the active roster. Aqib Talib was reported to have a hip injury (no, he didn’t shoot himself), when he had a quad injury, and Brandon Spikes was placed on IR with a ‘knee injury’ after he showed up late to practice. Now, in 1986, when this happened the first time, they were docked a 3rd round draft pick. But what about when it happened again, twice, in 2013? Nothing.


2015 – Playgate

This is my personal favorite, simply because I am a Ravens fan, and therefore have a dog in this particular fight. On three plays in their Divisional round win over the Ravens in the postseason of the 2014 campaign, the Patriots had five players on the line and made another player who was usually eligible on the play, ineligible. New England managed to put up 41 yards on those plays, taking advantage of Baltimore’s confusion on who they need to cover. This was later deemed illegal (too little, too late, once again), and the rule was changed. The new rules say that an eligible receiver who reports as ineligible must line up within the tackle box. I suppose that the punishment here was that the Patriots could no longer use these ‘trick’ plays against anybody else.


2015 – Deflategate

After the Ravens had that heartbreaking loss (by that, I mean that game stolen from them), the Patriots faced the Indianapolis Colts. They absolutely destroyed them, which led to the Colts making excuses. Very silly excuses, but excuses nonetheless. The Colts alleged that the balls that New England had provided were low on air pressure, and that is what caused them to play so sloppily. 2 weeks later, it was found that one ball out of twelve (oddly enough, the one that was intercepted by D’Qwell Jackson) was in fact under the PSI requirements, and a formal investigation was launched against Brady and the Patriots. Long story short, Brady broke his cell phone to ‘allegedly’ hide evidence, there have been multiple court proceedings about this (they’re actually still ongoing), and Brady is facing a 4 game suspension going into the 2016 campaign. The Patriots were fined $1,000,000 (a sum that one avid fan tried to raise on GoFundMe.. yeah.. really.), and docked 2 draft picks.


The Meat of the Matter

I’ve just highlighted a few things. There’s still Snowplowgate, Murdergate, Tuckgate (A fan favorite), Tampergate, Headsetgate, and the list goes on. Sidenote – who comes up with these names? This is ridiculous.


I’m not normally the writer that goes on rants about certain teams, even though it’s a well-known fact that there is a fierce rivalry brewing between New England and Baltimore. But Roger Goodell and the upper management need to be put on notice when it comes to Bill Belichick and company. Enough is enough. Every season, there is some type of controversy surrounding the perennial winner of the AFC East. When is the line drawn? When do you say that the limit has been reached, and disbar Belicheat and Crybrady? Or have you just not found a punishment worthy enough to settle them down yet? From all accounts, no matter what you do to them, they are going to continue their devious ways, tarnishing the reputation of this game that so many people love. And to make matters worse, allowing them to do things like this with minimal to no punishment, and allowing them to continue on their merry way, creates more and more bandwagon Patriots fans that blindly cheer on this team and its quarterback (The man wears Uggs, guys. MAN. UGGS. Stop making him out to be a man’s man.). Stop the madness, Roger. You know and I know that nobody likes you.. but even less people like the New England Patriots and what they have done to football as we know it today. My words to you – Do something about it. Stop treating us like we don’t see what’s going on. You’re as big of a crook as they are if you do.


Some of you will say that I am mad because my team isn’t as good as the Patriots. Some will say that I’m still upset over the loss in that Divisional round. Some will nod your heads in agreement. Some will give a resounding shout in joy that somebody had the nerve to not only say it, but put it out over a public form. Some will just add this to the list of articles that you’ve read today that you could care less about. But at the end of the day, I’m not going to defend my choice to write this. It needed to be said, so I did it. The NFL as a whole has failed us, as fans, by changing the rules to protect certain players and teams, and taking important aspects of the game away, as well as letting certain transgressions go unpunished.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com