The Patriots weren't cheaters. That doesn't mean they weren't misguided.

Jim Hackett
December 12, 2019 - 8:56 am
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Sometime between the final whistle in Sunday’s hard-fought, tough-luck loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and mid-Monday afternoon, did Victor Kiam repurchase the New England Patriots? Given the epic level of stupidity surrounding this latest organizational controversy, it sure feels like it. Hopefully, Robert Kraft will at least attempt to avoid the comedy of potholes Kiam loved to trip over with his mouth throughout the endless aftermath of his very public self-inflicted wounds from the Lisa Olsen controversy. One would think this Patriots organization wouldn’t be so sloppy or stupid, though the last few days aren’t leaving me too confident. 

This specific transgression, miscommunication or scandal what have you, was perfectly avoidable if the chiefs of Kraft Sports Productions simply made sure to “do their jobs.”

Oh, the irony.

Unless you have been abducted by aliens or stuck in traffic on 93 without a radio for the last 2 1/2 days, I’m sure you know the story by now. I’ve heard enough to firmly believe Bill Belichick that this sloppy and stupid organizational error had nothing to do with Belichick himself or any of the football operation. Fine. I’m glad that appears to be the truth of it all, but as a lifelong fan of the Patriots since my single-digit youth, this was an added kick in the stones I certainly didn’t need and would like some reparations for frankly.

As my favorite comedian Chris Rock once famously said about the increasingly troubling, epically weird and disgustingly sordid rumors and news surrounding Michael Jackson: “I love Michael, but I’m tired of defending him.” That was literally the first thing I thought of when this latest BS surrounding the Patriots arose on Monday afternoon. Many if not all of the New England fan base (me included) sighed a collective “What now?”  Literally, what now? After learning more over the last two days, the better question is “how does this happen?”

Stupidity that’s how.

I wrestled in high school and when you were grappling near the edge of the mat the coach would yell out “Know where you are!” Well, the Patriots organization would be well served to “Know where they are” and “know how they are perceived.” To think that a prolific and successful organization whose brand has been sadly besmirched with the stains of Spygate and Deflategate, wouldn’t take every precaution to avoid even the most benign controversy is mindboggling to me. Utterly mindboggling. Now I think that Spygate was overblown and Deflategate was an absolute joke as most do around these parts, but for many of those living in the 44 states outside of New England that’s not the case, fair or unfair. 

Their perception is what it is, one might say.

Saddest of all, is that the perception of the Patriots being ‘cheaters’ truly started to die off during these most recent years of this dynastic 20-year run. You would hear far more chatter about Brady’s supposed decline or the end of the Patriots dynasty than any of the tired and long since dispelled myths about the Patriots cheating hearts. Gone no. Forgotten no, but definitely fading away. The most negative of the naysayers had become quieter year after year in terms of labeling the Pats as cheaters but your Patriots just had to give the haters more ammunition didn’t they. I’m left jaw dropped, befuddled, frustrated and a little pissed to be honest. Regardless of what people think or whatever penalty the league may throw at them, so be it. 

In terms of punishment, I have different ideas.

Let’s start here. I never want to hear the following words associated with the New England Patriots again:

Film. Filming. Tape. Taping. Video. Videographer. Videography. Photo. Photos. Photographer. Photography. Camera. Lens. Picture or Screen. 

Heretofore, any time a member of the New England Patriots organization is caught using any of these words they must pick one season ticket holder randomly and pay for his or her next game ticket. This must happen in perpetuity.  

Furthermore, any time a member of the New England Patriots organization is caught using, purchasing, looking at or thinking about the following equipment they are subject to that same season ticket holder reimbursement penalty. 

Use of, purchase of and or thought of the following equipment is hereby subject to penalty:

Video cameras. cameras, tripods, video screens, video games, televisions, iPhones, iPads, kindles, projectors, DVD players, Blue Ray players and any other video-capable gadgets.

For the purposes of scouting, the New England Patriots can use the following tools:

Pens, pencils, crayons, magic markers, sharpies, paper, notebooks, notepads, Morse code, telegraph, non-picture capable telephones, blackberries, fax machines, carrier pigeons, smoke signals, court-appointed stenographers and short-hand capable executive secretaries.

Any use, abuse, mention of or thought of any video or film enabling technology will be subject to the reimbursement of multiple tickets, beer, food and parking to its fan base. One that deserves better than to have its favorite team continue to shoot itself in the foot while failing to recognize its outside perception and the impact it has on its reputation, its fans and customers. 

Moving forward, for the Krafts and everybody in charge of the business operation, it’s well beyond time to make sure you are crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s and the lower case J’s. Additionally, you would also be well served to listen intently to your own coach’s wise words of just a few years ago. It’s not, "Do your job," it’s "Do your job – well.”