Dunlap: Patriots Need To Prove Innocence

Colin Dunlap
December 10, 2019 - 1:57 pm
Bill Belichick

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - This is all just a misunderstanding, right? 

Yeahhhhhhh. That’s where we are here. Everyone else is wrong. And, even more so, how dare they have any suspicion. I mean, why in the world would you even think such a thing! Why would you even consider the New England Patriots could be doing something stealthily to gain an advantage. 

The nerve of all of you! Mind your business!

That’s kind of the hubris that emanates from the Patriots in situations like this. We have heard it before and we are hearing it now. A “you don’t know anything, shut up and leave us alone” attitude prevails and it will prevail from their organization and fan base. Watch, just watch --- it’s the easiest prediction in the universe. They will talk down to you; they will treat you dumb. They will crawl on the highest of horses right now. 

You know, how dare anyone question an organization that, in the past, was fined a half-million bucks and docked a first-round pick after a team employee was caught surreptitiously recording footage of a game between the Packers and Jets. 

How dare you question us! Just look at our rings, you’re just jealous!

And now, we are right back here again. 

According to reporting from Paul Dehner Jr., who works for The Athletic in Cincinnati, there is more smoke with the Patriots. There also could be fire. 

Dehner, Jr. reports of a film crew that was shooting video of the Bengals sideline at their away game in Cleveland this past weekend: “According to sources who have viewed the tape, it shows about eight minutes of footage focusing on recording the Bengals’ sideline. It’s a direct view of the sideline as coaches make signals for plays."

During a news conference on Tuesday --- as the Bengals just so happen to be New England’s next opponent --- Patriots coach Bill Belichick predictably used a naivety defense. Essentially, he said there was a documentary being filmed on a member of the Patriots who was working in a scouting capacity at the Bengals/Browns game and the football arm of the New England organization didn’t have anything to do with it. The show was something produced and for use by an entirely different department and meant for a documentary as it would never reach his office as a scouting tool. 

Guess what? 

I don’t believe Belichick. 

I don’t need to believe Belichick. 

History says to me --- you can draw your own opinion --- that Belichick and the Patriots should be granted absolutely, positively zero benefit of the doubt in this situation. 

I will go this far: By virtue of just what we know to this point, there should be the presumption of guilt until they can prove their innocence. Turning over the full, unedited and unabridged version of the tape is the only thing that needs to happen. It also needs to happen to the NFL in short order. 

If it does and there is nothing out of the ordinary on it? Then perhaps the Patriots can just go about their business ---- although it would be insanely hard to prove the Patriots are, indeed, giving the NFL the correct tape. 

If the Patriots refuse to hand over the tape or if it shows some indecorum such as Dehner, Jr.’s reporting has outlined, the NFL needs to be swift and heavy-handed. A large fine and a one-year suspension for Belichick is a good starting point. So too would be the loss of first-round draft picks for two seasons. 

That’s all the bare minimum. I’d even think of pushing for more. 

It’s almost-unfathomable to me that a man who has such a locked-tight grip on every single thing that happens within his organization and is the epitome of a control freak knew nothing about a full-blown feature being done on a staffer in another NFL venue on a game day. 

I might be wrong here. I have been wrong before. And even if I am, ignorance isn’t an excuse this time for the Patriots --- again, however, I find it next-to-impossible to believe Belichick didn’t know this piece was being produced. 

Whatever the case in all of this, I know this much right now: The NFL has a big decision to make. There are so many in the NFL-consuming universe who are already skeptical and disbelieving of all things Patriots and have good reason to be. 

They are proven cheaters. That cannot be argued or denied. Proven cheaters.  

As the NFL finds its starting point in all of this, I also know this: It should launch from a position that the Patriots are guilty and better damn well have an incredible story and excuse to exonerate themselves and make them innocent in all of this. The onus shouldn’t be on the NFL to prove a bunch of acts here, but the Patriots to disprove them.  ​

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