A hot topic in the NFL has been the punishment handed out to New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick for his team's videotaping of the New York Jets' defensive coaches on Sept. 9 as they signaled their players on the field.
In a news conference last week, Belichick apologized to his owner, his staff and his players in a brief statement but did not accept the blame.
Greg Cote, in Sunday's Miami Herald, said he "instead chose to admit no wrongdoing and show no contrition, on the advice of Barry Bonds and Nick Saban."
When Belichick accepted the head coaching job with the Patriots in 2000, whom did he succeed?
Last season, the Detroit Lions complained to the NFL that twice they saw a Patriots employee filming their defensive coaches, and the Green Bay Packers had a similar complaint.
Scott Ostler, in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, asked: "Seriously, how dumb can Bill Belichick and his stooges be? They got caught three times last season, twice in one game!"
Added Ostler: " 'Sir,' one of Belichick's assistants should have told him after the second or third bust last year, 'I don't think we're fooling anyone.' "
He has the record
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000. The penalty also included a first-round draft choice if the Patriots make the playoffs and a second- or third-round choice if they don't.
You might recall Belichick cost the Patriots a first-round pick when they hired him. After Bill Parcells stepped down as coach of the Jets, Belichick, the team's defensive coordinator, was named to the job. But Belichick immediately "resigned" and instead accepted an offer from the Patriots.
The Jets and Parcells claimed Belichick was still under contract. Then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue agreed and awarded the Jets the Patriots' first-round draft pick in exchange for New England's gaining the right to hire Belichick, who is now the all-time penalty leader for draft picks cost.
The crux of it all
Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer, who on Sunday showed the actual tape that the NFL confiscated, pointed out that Patriots video assistant Matt Estrella is clearly picking up signals and then panning up to the scoreboard for down and distance.
"This goes on throughout the entire tape," Glazer said. "What they do is take this film and then afterward sync it up with the actual game tape. The next time they play the Jets and see the same hand signals, they can relay the blitz and coverage info down to the coaches on the sideline."
Glazer also quoted Goodell as saying, "I will make sure that the $500,000 fine comes out of Bill Belichick's pocket and not [owner] Robert Kraft's."
Considering the opponent was the Jets, did the Patriots really need to do all this?
On CBS' "The NFL Today," Dan Marino said: "To a quarterback, if you know the signals ahead of time, that's a huge advantage. If you know where the blitz is going to come from, what coverage that they're going to be in . . . you could make Boomer Esiason look like Joe Montana."
Fox's Jimmy Johnson said Sunday: "Every team has got a file on the other team. I used to send an intern up to the opposing coach's box after the game and go through the trash. Because after the game, what do they do? They take their game plan and their scouting reports and throw them away. My intern would get all that stuff and put it right in the file."
More from the Miami Herald's Cote: "Weird. I just looked up 'Odd Couple' in the dictionary, and the picture of Jack Klugman and Tony Randall had been replaced by one of Belichick and Randy Moss."