Oh, the wannabe-pundit sportswriters are having a field day with this one.
With Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots getting busted for, essentially, warrantless wiretapping of opposing coaches' signals, writers such as Bill Simmons of ESPN just can't help themselves:
"Spying on opponent's signals is just plain seedy. It's one step above playing footsie with someone in an airport men's room. It's a disgrace. It's embarrassing."
But without knowing the parameters allowed by the NFL's and NFLPA's collective-bargaining agreement, I think Belichick and the Pats have gotten off easy.
Yeah, Belichick will have to write a painful check of $500,000 to the league, and yes the Pats will have to turn over $250k to the league office, and the team will have to (most likely) give up a first-round draft pick in '08. But if the Patriots brazenly broke an expressly verboten rule, and gained an advantage over the Jets that allowed them to beat the Jets, 38-14 last Sunday, then they should have to forfeit the game to the Jets.
Now, the NFL's rule is that any team that forfeits a game will lose that game 2-0. So the irony in my scenario would be if the Jets needed the total-points tie-breaker at the end of the year and, despite the "win" they would have been awarded over the Pats, wound up MISSING the playoffs because of the points they would NOT have gotten by winning the forfeit 2-0.
At the very least, the Pats should have to give up BOTH first-round picks in '08, and Belichick should be suspended a game. Or at least forfeit one of those picks to the Jets, the team that was wronged by Belichick's misdeed.
Heard someone make an interesting point, though, that the league could eliminate the problem all together by allowing the defensive coordinator to radio plays in to the "QB" of his defense, usually his middle linebacker.
To that, I say why not let all offensive and defensive players have radios in their helmets.