Spy Games

BD_herald.jpgThe Jets are a bit pissed at the Patriots. Considering they just got walloped 38-14 on Sunday, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Ah, but it’s how and why New York got pushed around that has everyone talking. The Jets are alleging that the Pats spied on them during Sunday’s game, utilizing illegal video recording to steal New York’s defensive signals and, possibly, change the outcome of the contest. The Pats, meanwhile, are doing their best to completely ignore the hole thing.

Propaganda? Trade craft? This is just like the Cold War. Only, you know, without the unpleasant threat of nuclear holocaust.Here’s what the NFL had to say about the matter:

“The rule is that no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game,” the league said in a statement from spokesman Greg Aiello. “Clubs have specifically been reminded in the past that the videotaping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals on the sidelines is prohibited.”

This isn’t the first time the Patriots have been accused of underhanded tactics. Actually, according to the Herald, more than a few teams have cried foul over the last few years.

“There’s a league-wide perception that this is something they do,” one rival executive noted.

In each instance, the pattern appears to be the same. A Patriots employee with a team-issued credential records opposing coaches signaling the defensive plays.

For a window into the Patriots’ tactics, multiple Packers sources provided a fascinating account of what happened in the 35-0 victory last Nov. 19.

A man identifying himself as a Patriots employee asked a security guard if he could shoot footage of Lambeau Field before the game, and permission was granted.

Just before the game, he requested to stay on the sidelines to record quarterback Tom Brady for the coaching staff. However, he was soon spotted filming the Packers defense and signaling Patriots coaches.

A member of the Packers security staff witnessed the exchange and asked him to leave. He retreated to the tunnel, continued filming, and appeared to be communicating with the coaches via hand signals before being escorted off the field.

So very, very interesting. Do you think that Pats head coach Bill Belichick calls his spies something cutesy like Nixon did? For his part, Belichick isn’t yet directly addressing the topic, which is smart. Plausible deniability is the cornerstone of every dictatorship. Let the underlings take the fall while you feast on grapes and create havoc.

On his weekly appearance on WEEI radio, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he had heard about the issue at the game but declined any further comment.

“I don’t have any comment on league matters,” he said. “It’s a league thing. Whatever the deal is, which I don’t really know the details of it, a lot of it, we’ll comply.”

Still, despite all that, my favorite part about this entire saga is what Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs told the Globe:

“We put too many hours in as individuals and as a team to have to go out there and cheat.”

Uh, Ellis, I’m not saying (yet) that you and your boys actually circumvented the rules, but since when is serious talent and a good chance to win a deterrent to cheating? Nixon figured to absolutely destroy George McGovern in ’72, and he still dispatched his henchmen for a quick B&E over at the Watergate building. Barry Bonds was a lock for the Hall of Fame, and yet some people are pretty convinced that he juiced himself gigantic just to put a few more home runs over the wall.

But forget all that. If New England did cheat, it makes you question what else might not be on the up and up with the Pats. Take, for example, the curious case of Tom Brady bedding down with not one but two gorgeous celebrities. All of a sudden, I’m wondering if he was listening to their conversations — think Matt Dillon’s character in There’s Something About Mary — in an attempt to glean information that he could use to seduce them.

I mean, come on, no way he’s pulling that off on his own. What’s that guy got going for him?

Yes, this is all starting to make sense now.