The NFL has a lot of information to sort through. There are new allegations that Adam 'Pacman' Jones may have paid for a club to be shot up. One of their 'character players' Marvin Harrison is under investigation. Cedric Benson is possibly involved in a police brutality dispute and now there are eight tapes to watch and pass judgement on.
The NFL has confirmed to the New York Times that Matt Walsh has given Roger Goodell tapes in which offensive and defensive signals in regular season games against the Bills, Chargers, Browns and Dolphins. The tapes also include the 2002 AFC Championship game against the Steelers.
Absent from the tapes is the elusive walk-through of the Rams before their Super Bowl match up with the Pats.
There are a few things one needs to analyze in all of this.
The first question is whether or not the Patriots and Belichick came clean to Goodell about these tapes during the first investigation. If the tapes provided by Walsh are duplicates of the "destroyed evidence" than this will all be water under the bridge. If these tapes, however, turn out to be new information not disclosed by the Patriots, owner Robert Kraft or Belichick than Goodell will be steaming.
The NFL Commissioner seems to be forgiving for those who are honest and work with him. It is only after he finds out that players have not been fully honest with him does he allow the full power of the league to come down on the individuals. If these tapes are new to Goodell and the Patriots did not disclose the information to the NFL than look for more punishment.
Let's say that these tapes are new to Goodell...how do you punish a team for actions taken back in 2000 or 2002? Certainly there would be more fines and a demand for a public apology to all the fans of the NFL. I believe fines are enough and I do not believe they will be as high as the first round of fines. The major issue in the original SpyGate was the blatant disregard for a memo sent by the league reminding coaches of the rule before the start of last season.
If there is proof that the Pats taped the Rams' walk-through than there is a completely different situation. If that is the case I do not think that the league would have any other choice than to suspend Belichick for at least a year, maybe more. He would have directly compromised the league's biggest game and blatantly disregarded any integrity of the game.
While these tapes will lead to allegations and much debate over what the league knew, how much the tapes effected championships and proper punishments. The only thing the tapes will prove is that the Pats had an advantage for many games throughout the dynasty. We now know that this wasn't a new practice when the Jets game occurred last season.
It may also bring into question the resumes of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. They were considered the next generation of genius. Weis' offense was incredible and Crennel's defense impeccable. it must be a lot easier to run an offense and defense if you know where to position players or what play the opposing team is running. This might be a big deal in light of the struggles both have had since they left New England. Will this bring more pressure on the Weis to restore the Irish or Crennel to prove that last year was not, in fact, a fluke.
No matter what comes of thee tapes people will grow to hate the Patriots and their coach even more. The Super Bowl winning pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress will seem sweeter, stabbing the smug sweatshirt bearer in the heart. Pittsburgh fans will be in open revolt against the league and Tom Brady will be burnt if effigy. With the Yankees taking on a new moniker of rebuilding their farm system, there is no doubt that the "Evil Empire" has been relocated.
The very same city and sportswriters who painted the Yankees as a heartless corporation epitomizing the worst in sports must now face the fact that the Patriots have done more to hurt the game and in a fashion more evil that the Yankees could ever had done. Belicheck is the Emperor; spinning his web of deception and consolidating his power. His apprentice, the young Anakin Skywalker has to be played by Tom Brady. A man of incredible talent and whom everyone loved when he won his first Super Bowl has been transformed into a "win at all cost", run up the score, we're out to crush you player. Brady has even started to resemble his coach during his press conference exuding an arrogance unmatched.
It's hard to remember sometimes that Belicheck is even human. He carries himself with a machine like precision. He stands in front of the mic every week in open revolt of public opinion. Normally,a cast off of concern over public opinion would delight me, but Belichick doesn't care about public opinion because he knows better, he doesn't care because he will not let anything stand in his way. It's at times like those that I'm reminded that the coach is human because he can let greed and hubris compel him to not care what it takes or who or what he harms to be a champion.
There is no doubt that the Patriot's championships will be looked upon under suspicion and that is unfortunate for the many hard working players who won their championship playing with heart and passion.
Of course balance needs to be restored to the force. Obi-Wan and Luke need to finish the job. The wise Obi-Wan, who has a complete grasp of the force has taught his younger student the ways to take down the Evil Empire. A young, naive hero. Sounds like the Manning brothers to me.
With two straight Super Bowl MVPs and a humility rarely seen in today's NFL the Manning brothers have given fans something to cheer about (was there anyone West of New England who did not delight in the underdog Giants on February 3rd?). They can continue the Patriot's Super Bowl drought and take on Tom Brady's newly minted records. And if they need help, they can always count on the maverick Cowboy character of Hans Solo, or in this case Tony Romo and the sexy Princess Leia (in this case dyed blonde hair and curvier)
If the going gets really tough, then maybe, just maybe a Return of the Jedi would be in order and Number 4 would throw his hat into the ring.