New England Patriots: ESPN, The NFL’s Propoganda Machine, Strikes Again

Just when there was an opportunity for things to quiet down and NFL fans could start concentrating on the actual games, the right arm of the NFL, ESPN, struck again. This time it is an article in ESPN The Magazine titled “Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and Patriots apart” and it’s intent is to, as REO Speedwagon sang in 1982, keep the fire burning.

Like the Wells report, it is filled with innuendo and will be read by millions as the “Gospel” according to ESPN, just as the 11 of 12 footballs being 2 lbs underinflated was taken as fact, despite being completely false.

The article, written by Don Van Natta Jr. (author of “First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers, and Cheaters from Taft to Bush”) and Seth Wickersham, Senior Writer for ESPN.com and ESPN is intentionally inflammatory with a multitude of objectives:

  1. Increase the readership of the magazine (understandable)
  2. Sensationalize “old” news
  3. Re-enforce the linking of Spygate and DeflateGate
  4. Show how the Patriots are different, in a bad way, from the other teams in the NFL.

Number four, the Patriots are different, is a fact…but not in the way as highlighted in this piece of “sensationalistic” journalism. The reason the article gives is New England has to cheat to do it. Let’s face it haters, they must have cheated in this day of free agency to become one of the most feared franchises in the history of the NFL. Forget the fact they have arguable the best QB (Tom Brady for those who don’t know) in NFL History and a coach that any other owner (ignore what they say, you know this is true) would love to have as Head Coach or their franchise.

There are no “sore losers” used in this article…except this gem:

 “Goodell didn’t want anybody to know that his gold franchise had won Super Bowls by cheating,” a senior executive whose team lost to the Patriots in a Super Bowl now says. “If that gets out, that hurts your business.”

Needless to say the always reliable N. Y. Post jumped on the bandwagon with this headline Spygate much worse than Belichick, Goodell divulged and Deadspin was even more definitive with Bombshell ESPN Report: The Patriots Were Huge Cheaters And Roger Goodell Covered It Up.  Once again the storm is brewing.

The Magazine, includes these “findings” to get readers interest and reignite the linking of Spygate and DeflateGate for those who like to believe the Patriots are different, in a bad way, from the other teams in the NFL.

  • From 2000 to 2007, the Patriots videotaped the signals of opposing coaches in 40 games
  • Goodell’s handling of Deflategate turned around owners still simmering over Spygate; some say he is now more secure in his job.
  • Deflategate is seen by some owners as a “makeup call” over Spygate.

ESPN’S Findings Are Nothing New

Let’s take the “findings” as just what they are…a hashed over repeat of what everyone already knew, but with a slant to add some sensationalism, enhance a now tarnished NFL image and put the New England Patriots back in the spotlight as the NFL bad boys (cheaters to quote the article: “Patriots’ coach, Bill Belichick, the cheating program’s mastermind”)

  • What they fail to mention is Spyhate (oops) was about where the Patriots were filming, not what they were filming.

I’m not going to rehash Spygate (which they did repeatedly in the article), but, will clarify a few misconceptions.

Fact: Videotaping opposing coaches is not illegal in the NFL but there are designated areas allowed by the league to do such taping. The Patriots were videotaping the Jets’ coaches from their own sideline which is not allowed. There is no question from anyone (including Patriot Nation) what they did was wrong, but stretching the facts to “imply” it was illegal to videotape opposing coaches at all is just flat wrong.

According to CSNNE’s Tom Curran’s article it wasn’t until a 2006 memo was put out by the league that anything in writing regarding sideline videotaping was specifically addressed

Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations to NFL sent a memo to head coaches and general managers. In it, he wrote: “Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game.” 

Belichick obviously ignored that memo and Goodell imposed the biggest fine ever on a coach and took away a first-round draft pick as a penalty for the first time in NFL history.

Owners “Make-Up” Call Inference

When the fines and draft pick were announced it was felt by all, including the owners, to be a stiff penalty. In fact, the stiffest ever in NFL history.  Revisionist history is the punishment is now being mentioned as a “favor” to Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft because of his friendship with the Commissioner. The integrity of Mr. Goodell was questioned (my goodness, not by the owners) because he ordered the destruction of the tapes and notes regarding Spygate…supposedly, because of his friendship with Kraft.

Question: If the owners felt strongly about his (Goodell’s) integrity then, why is he still commissioner now?

There’s a lot of discussion in the article about the owner’s emergency meeting on April 1, 2008 where Robert Kraft spoke (“witnesses would later say Kraft’s remarks were heartfelt, his demeanor chastened”), without naming any source (you know, that old first amendment protect your source reason that writers/publishers always use) describing the meeting as if the writers were there. Where’s the source? What great memories they all must have!

Love This One

It was, one owner says, time for “a makeup call.” Have to wonder who that one owner was and if that is what the one quote that lead to the “deflategate is seen by some owners (plural) as the make-up call for spyhate.

I could go on and on, as the ESPN-The Magazine article does, but then I would be doing just what I accuse them of….rehashing and sensationalizing “old news”

Disclosure: I am not an attorney and have been a follower of the New England Patriots since their inception in 1960.

Follow me on twitter @SnowdonBob

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