Spygate in Restrospect: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Peter BukowskiSenior Analyst IMay 23, 2008

I am so incredibly sick of Spygate, of Patriots talk, and all of the ridiculous discussions taking place.

When the Patriots choked away the chance to go down in history as the only 19-0 team ever, I  had some thoughts about the winners and losers of that result.In the wake of the recent allegations, evidence, and resulting media attention, I wanted to re-examine what seemed so clear just a few months ago.

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote in February shortly after the Giants won Super Bowl XLII. The original article can be found here:


Nearly 100 million viewers watched the New York Giants upset the heavily favored and previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. A grizzly, sloppy game until the fourth quarter, the finish was nothing short of spectacular.

When the gun sounded Eli Manning was the MVP and Bill Belichick was leaving the field with his pride...well except for the red hoody.

As I watched Mr. Spygate trudge towards Tom Coughlin and offer a hug that ranks in awkwardness to the handshake with Eric Mangini, I realized he was the only person with something to lose. And lose it he did, in dramatic fashion.

The 2007 season will forever be the season the Patriots couldn't finish.

Even with the rabid New York media, the Giants will always have to share the spotlight of this season with a team that won 18 straight and couldn't seal the deal in Glendale. For better or for worse, that is the burden of beating the Patriots THIS year.

The Patriots still did something no team in NFL history has done, and Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and that offense set records not soon to be broken.

Tom Brady already has three rings, and his Patriots place in history as an NFL dynasty was already solidified. Brady become the all-time Super Bowl leader in completions, passing some guy named Montana who I hear is pretty good.

The 2007 New England Patriots are the best team not to win a Super Bowl and the one of only a handful of teams to go 18-1. Had the Giants lost, they would have slipped into oblivion.

The problem is, the Giants won.

They went on the road and beat Tampa at Tampa, Dallas in Dallas, and Green Bay in Green Bay. That streak gave them 10 consecutive road wins, an NFL record, to cap perhaps the greatest run in history.

For a game normally wrapped in hyperbole and cliche, the discussion over "best ____ ever" has to be had after this game, this season. The New York Football Giants certainly had nothing to lose as they were playing with house money.

With a loss, the G-Men simply would have been the last highlights on another Patriots Super Bowl season DVD, something the Rams, Panthers, and Eagles all know about.

With a win, Eli Manning can play without the hounding pressure in the Meadowlands. Michael Strahan can retire on top, as one of the greatest rush ends in the modern era. Tom Coughlin completes a remarkable coaching job, banding together a team that had supposedly quit on him a season prior.

New York is actually one of the youngest teams in the league and had they lost, would certainly have all the tools to give it a shot next year.

But what about Tiki and Shockey?

This nonsense about this being a better team without Tiki Barber is ridiculous. Tiki Barber was not the problem on the Giants team, they simply didn't play consistent football, but Barber did.Regardless of the shots he took at Eli or Coughlin after the fact, Tiki Barber was and still would be the best player on that team. I can't agree with any logic that tells me the Giants are a better team without him.

The same can be said for Shockey.

While it was unconscionable for him to be in a box that looked like they were having an early Mardi Gras party, Shockey makes the offense dynamic down the seam. Eli loves to look for Shockey on third down and he is still one of the premier play makers at the position.As far as Shockey as a distraction, he is still on the team. He went to practice, meetings, and walk-through's all season. Sure, you might think Shockey is a loser in general, but this Super Bowl win is his gain because he makes them even better next year.

Boston fans, don't even think about it.

You were not cheated, jilted, or wronged. You did not lose either. Your Red Sox won the World Series and you're still the best team in baseball. You have the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, and you have 3 Super Bowl W's in less than 10 years.

I know about "the curse" and the plight of a Boston sports fan, but give me a break. You'll be back because you have superior talent evaluators and a proven blueprint. Sorry Patriots fans, but I think you'll manage.

One could make a case for advertising agencies here as the reported $2.7 million commercials left a great deal to be desired, we are still talking about how awful they were, so maybe it worked.

That leaves the hoody.

Bill, you cheated in week 1 against an inferior opponent and a former assistant coach. You then proceeded to downplay the event in public, and use as motivation for your team. You killed teams, went for it on fourth down up 20+, essentially telling the NFL you didn't care and to try and stop you.

While piling up 18 straight, you were flippant with the media and alienated fans.

Then, just days before the culmination of your perfect season, allegations over previous spying incidents come out. The Eagles suspected you had more information on their game then you should...now someone claims you had more information on the Rams than you should.

With your villain status already intact, there was one thing you had to do: Win. Had Bill Belichick won Super XLII, he would have been justified, now he's simply vilified.

And he's earned it.

The NFL has unwritten rules, codes and standards to which players and coaches are to adhere. Karma comes around quickly and the only way to avoid it is to win while you can.

Bill Belichick took by far his best team to date to play in a game whose outcome was a foregone conclusion. Win, and the Spygate scandal and running up the score (the F U touchdowns) would all melt away in the magic of 19-0. Lose, and look like cheaters, bullies, and choke-artists.

Now Belichick will have a chance to go to the corner and think about what he's done.

Maybe he'll play by the rules next time.Until then, he's simply a loser.


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