A well-placed source within the New England Patriots organization has revealed a plot in which Tom Brady and Bill Belichick conspired to rig the outcomes of games in which the Patriots participated.
The source described a complex scheme in which Brady and Belichick designed plays that they felt their opponents would be unable to defend effectively, in an effort to maximize their scoring chances. They also reportedly used numerous forms of misdirection and disruption to minimize the number of points their opponents could score.
In some cases, the Patriots' offense ran so-called "trick plays", in which they intentionally caused their opponents to expect a certain type of play, only to switch to a completely different type at the very last moment. Several on-air personalities from a local Boston sports radio station conducted an informal analysis of last Sunday's narrow Patriot victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the results seem to bear this out.
On numerous plays, Brady would take the snap and imply that it was a running play, in some cases going so far as to pantomime a handoff to his running back. The defense, taking note of this "handoff", immediately pursued the "ball carrier" with the intention of tackling him, not realizing that Brady had never actually let go of the ball. Having thoroughly hoodwinked the defense, Brady was then able to complete forward passes to open receivers, sometimes for a touchdown - and six points.
A Patriots media spokesman contacted for this story angrily insisted that this type of play is "100% legal" and trotted out the tired excuse that "every team does it!"
We contacted NFL headquarters in New York City, and were told that "play action passes" are in fact legal, and have been around for about 55 years or so, since the early days of the AFL - but this only ratcheted up the suspicion for some.
"Of COURSE the league is going to say that," said John, a sportswriter who refused to give his last name. "The NFL is in cahoots with the Patriots. The entire system is rigged to help New England win Super Bowls! Did you think they were just going to fess up to the whole thing? Duh!"
John's friend Ron, who was standing next to him at the Golden Corral all-you-can-eat crab leg bar, agreed. "It's so obvious," he said. "The Patriots do illegal things - okay, fine, they're technically legal, but deceptive - same exact thing. The point is, it's clear what the intention is. Go back and look at the stats over the last 15 years! Look how much they've outscored their opponents over that time! You think that's just a coincidence?"
Sure enough, it turns out that the Patriots have outscored their opponents by well over 1,000 points since Belichick and Brady arrived in town. For a growing number of gridiron experts, this is more than a little fishy. Some in the Boston sports journalism community were shocked to see the numbers.
"The possibilty that the Patriots would outscore their opponents this much simply by chance is, like, 18 kajillion to 1," says Michael, a local broadcaster. "Clearly this is by design! Although I'm sure the cowardly NFL won't do anything about it. The Patriots are the NFL's cash cow, and the league won't bite the hand that feeds them. That's why the Patriots never get investigated for anything!"
Indeed it is strange that the NFL, which is so singularly concerned with parity and fairness, would not launch a multi-million-dollar, six-month-long probe into the affair, and have their marketing arm concoct a catchy *-gate* nickname for it.
Scoring hits right at the very heart of football, and the Patriots willfully trying to score points raises all sorts of ethical questions, especially since they're trying to keep the other team from doing the same.
"It's just totally unfair," says Gary, another broadcaster. "We all know exactly what they're trying to do, and it makes me want to puke. I mean literally lean out my window and heave up $9 worth of potato skins!
"Look, I know the homers aren't gonna want to hear this, but rules are rules. And whether or not this is actually *against* the rules is totally not the point."