To be naive is bliss.
Clearly there was a precedent for these things. The Pats didn't just wake up on day and decide to tape the Jets because of Bill Belichick's irrational hatred for Eric Mangini. Yet the NFL and it's crackpot team of investigators, made up of old cast members team from the Police Academy movies, decided that there was no real reason to look any deeper than this isolated incident. Apparently the black guy that makes sweet sound effects (Michael Winslow for those playing along at home) said it was 'all good'. He then made a weird robot noise.
Now back to the perfect season! Ooohhh...record numbers. Ahhhh...Tom Brady is purdy.
Let's keep in mind, that in 2002 the Patriots were two touchdown underdogs to the mighty Rams. This wasn't the 18-0, 'eat your babies', 'I drink your milkshake' squad of 2007-2008 that doesn't need need no stinkin' tapes man. This was a unheralded 11-5 underdog who shocked the world and created what would soon become the surly but decidedly handsome dynasty that it is today. To this 11-5 squad of ragtag misfits (I believe Keaunu Reeves was on that team) every little competitive advantage would have counted. Especially in the Super Bowl, going up against a physically superior team like the Rams.
There are eerie parallels between this and the steroid issue in baseball. An unquantifiable cheat that is widely believed to help gain a competitive advantage, but to what extent no one knows (except perhaps Bilichick and his gang of snaggletoothed henchmen). They are both serious issues that are more widespread than we think but are swept under the rug by each respective league, only to come back and bite them in their overfed, scotch-soaked asses. Sweating profusely and desperate for a stiff drink, they dangle shiny objects like home run records and perfect seasons in front of us and hope that we all high five and dance to Bob Seger songs, like some sort of ill-conceived Coors Light commercial.
No. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. Now. The integrity of the most popular sport in America is on the line. Punishments need to handed out the guilty. Hordes of unwashed masses need to march to Commissioner Goodall's office, with pitchforks and torches kept aflame by gasoline soaked Patriots hoodies (sleeveless, natch). I want some answers Bill-O. And by 'answers', I don't mean a condescending 'I'm better than you' smirk. I'll shove this torch so far up your ass that you'll actually call Eric Mangini 'daddy'. Who knows...maybe the torch will get far enough up your ass that it will singe the hidden camera that you have up there.
*It really is personal for me. As you all know, the Sultan of Stubble, Kurt Warner is my favorite player of all-time. My man crush has been well documented. He's the Brandon Walsh to my David Silver. Kurt of course played for the heavily favored Rams in that ill-fated 2002 SuperBowl. We've all heard of the 'SuperBowl Hangover' that often times afflicts the losers of the big game. Well, for the 2002 Rams and especially Kurt, this effect was even more pronounced. The next season the Rams finished 7-9. The Sultan of Stubble became the Sultan of Suckiness, throwing 3 TDS and 11 INTS in 7 games before succumbing to a season ending (and long lingering) injury. He would never be the same. Nor would the Rams for that matter.
Kurt would bounce from team to team, finally somewhat resurrecting his career with the Cardinals this past season. Mike Martz, once dubbed a mad genius (see: Belichick) was run out of town, his label switched from 'genius' to 'loon'. The Rams have reverted back to the Rams of the early 90's. Just a downward spiral for everyone involved. I can't help but wonder how all that would have changed if the Rams had won that Superbowl, creating a mini-dynasty of their own. Kurt becomes a two-time SuperBowl winner and secures his legacy amongst the greats as opposed to being a 3 year phenom. Martz gets cut more slack and is seen as 'unorthodox' instead of 'stupid'. One can't help but wonder. So yeah...this is personal.