Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has recently made clear his dissatisfaction with the National Football League, most specifically a certain 18-1 team with a dubious past.
As part of the ever-growing hilarity known as “Spygate”, the senator has made an ardent effort to cattle-prod the process of questioning Matt Walsh, a potentially vital witness. A former employee of the New England Patriots from 1996 to 2003, Walsh has claimed to have compelling evidence of the 16-by-9 variety that proves the Pats have been spying for years. The only problem, according to Specter, is the NFL is dragging its feet like Randy Moss catching a touchdown pass at the sidelines.
Why everyone is mystified by these actions is beyond me. The NFL is pulling a Kim Jong-il from Team America: World Police: hiding a dark secret from the government so it is not exposed. If Specter finds out about the full nature of the Pats cheating, it will soon lead to other teams. The proof will spread like wildfire, and the investigation will actually live up to its ridiculous “Spygate” title. Investigators will confirm what everyone actually knows, which is that NFL teams cheat…a lot…with cameras.
Once this is confirmed, it will suddenly become a serious matter. Like the steroid scandal in baseball, people will go crazy about something that has probably been occurring since cameras evolved from single-celled amoeba 17 centuries ago. Don Shula already made the claim long ago that using cameras will cause the Patriot’s stellar season to instantly suck forever. I can just imagine the endless congressional hearings ahead, where they will spend 6 weeks wheedling Bill Belichick until he concedes that yes, his name is Bill Belichick.
While I may just love a good conspiracy, the actions of the NFL sure have been fishy enough. The public still hasn’t received a good reason why the confiscated tapes were destroyed. People inside the organization just won’t talk. It could be weeks or even months until Walsh speaks with someone. Until then, the speculation will mount, and people will find even more ways to hate the New England Patriots.
“It’s with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust.” Fans wailed in pain, America burned in effigy, and the Earth itself quivered from these simple words. Marion Jones, the darling Olympian, winner of three gold medals, admitted to using performance-enhancing steroids. The only thing I can say is: Good.
Now perhaps the public will realize that anyone in sports can be an uncompromising cheat. Just because Lance Armstrong was a whiz in front of the camera doesn’t make him innocent. His buddy Landis used steroids, everyone around him used steroids, yet for some reason it is soo easy to believe that good old Lance would never lie to us, the adoring public. Jones was also as genial as one would please in front of the camera, and that lured in the public to her lies.
Making it even more insulting for both fans and the young athletes who look up to her is the bullshit statement she fed the press. Is this the old “oh my god I thought it was magical flaxseed oil” excuse I’m hearing once again? Hmm…it doesn’t take long to recall the last pumped up superstar ass who thought that one up. I don’t believe that for a second.
In the end, it is saddening that a person could compromise their integrity to win a piece of gold for the old trophy cabinet. It is sad as well that the only people left to trust are Victor Conte and Jose Canseco.
Another tainted name has surfaced in the baseball world, one which could hardly be pronounced in the first place. Mets pitcher Scott Schoeneweis received six steroid shipments from the increasingly infamous, friendly-neighborhood Signature Pharmacy.
Schoeneweis received the steroids during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and had elbow surgery done during this time. He developed testicular cancer in 1994, but that occurred nine years before the steroids were ever shipped. The prescription was made by Ramon Scruggs, the same quack…um…doctor who signed Troy Glaus’ papers. As of now, Schoeneweis’ agent, Scott Boras, is not commenting on the investigation.
The seasons when Schoenweis received the steroids, 2003 and 2004, were altogether unimpressive. He had a bounce back year in 2005 with Toronto, but was never a player who could be considered “good”. This fact in itself makes the issue even tougher to deal with. Most casual baseball fans would see an article about this, think, “who the hell is Scott Schoeneweis”, then briskly move on with their lives. None of the players discovered in this scandal are household names, and thus will not attract the attention of the general public.
As unfortunate as it may seem, the blood testing that is so necessary in the MLB will not be pushed until a superstar player gets tagged with a legitimate steroid accusation. If Alex Rodriguez was found tomorrow to have received a couple bundles of steroidal joy to his home, the baseball world would erupt. Record books would be burned, stadiums would be torn down by hoards of angry fans, and no less than 14 types of blood testing would be implemented within a week. It is unfortunate, but until someone famous is linked to the Signature scandal, it will do no good for baseball.
The cycling world was thrown for a huge loop (pardon the pun) on September 20th, when Floyd Landis was found guilty of doping his way to the Tour de France title. It was ruled that Landis used a synthetic testosterone to spark a come-from-behind victory.
To drive the point home that cheating is just not cool, arbitrators took away his 2006 title, and banned him from the event until 2009. In my eyes, this sets the bar for what other sports should be doing. They acted on a suspicion within their sport, and when the first test failed, they tried again. Using a more accurate testing system, Landis was proven guilty, and the hammer came down hard.
Landis himself called the entire process corrupt, saying, “I am innocent, and we proved I am innocent”. That may all be well and good, but how can he hold that point of view? If a better test finds a person positive, where is the corruption in that? Landis was given every due process, and can only blame himself for fueling his victory with drugs.
Other sports need to follow suit in ridding their field of drugs. If Major League Baseball was to go after one of their top stars and find him guilty of doping, it would shock the entire system. Leaking reports of mediocre players who received shipments of HGH will do nothing. Jason Giambi admitted he used drugs to hit all those homers, and Bud Selig consoled him, gave him a lollypop and thanked him for being honest. Other sports need to come down as hard as cycling and the Olympics, and not let players unions and profits get in the way.
Before I get into this latest bit-o-blogging, I would like to get a certain point of joy off my chest: David Ortiz finally, finalllly hit a heart-stopping, walk-off homer to bring the ebullient crowd to its collective feet. Ok…now that that’s all set, its time to delve into a serious sporting issue: the Patriots cheating conspiracy.
The results are in, and Bill Belichick is now the frontrunner for the NFL’s coveted Most Vile Pariah award. What began as a blip on the radar has escalated into a full-blown mess for football. Roger Goodell’s mettle will be tested with this issue, and it seems only the Hammer of God smiting Belichick’s hooded visage will sate all the non-Patriots fans of the world.
EPSN reporter Howard Bryant is right in saying this ruling will be essential for Goodell’s image. Thus far in his career, he has handed out harsh sentences to multiple players, and the same needs to go for coaches. If Belichick himself is left unscathed in this affair, what precedent does that set? The game must not become one in which the players face the axe, but management can scamper off to further sully the game. Sorry Billy, the rings were great, but this can’t be pushed aside.
On Wednesday Belichick offered a formal “apology” to, “everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players”. Essentially this tells us…absolutely nothing. He delivered a bullshit statement to the press, wanting to avoid the issue entirely. Furthermore, don’t try to tell me that his “interpretation” of the league rules led to some type of misunderstanding. The rules are clear and simple-technological espionage is strictly prohibited.
To make the action even worse, Belichick broke this simple rule against his own former apprentice, Eric Mangini. It was revealed that Mangini knew all about the Patriots’ “sordid camera” act, and was the one who leaked the info. Did Belichick think Mangini would keep such a dirty secret? Unfortunately for him, Mangini pulled the old Darth Vader move, and summarily hurled his old master into a scandalous pit.
Not long after the New England Patriots picked apart the hapless New York Jets in a 38-14 victory Sunday, an ugly rumor surfaced to dampen the mood of Pats fans. According to NFL security sources, an employee for the Patriots was caught for allegedly filming the Jet’s defensive coaches. Using the camera, the employee was said to be sending signals to the Patriots regarding upcoming plays. What is perhaps most disturbing is that when this rumor surfaced, it seemed to barely cause a ripple.
In all other major sports, scandals regarding cheating and unlawful behavior are running rampant. Somehow, though, this incident appears to be remaining under the radar. Why a blatant act of cheating would not gain more attention is very mysterious. It was even confirmed that the same cameraman was questioned in a game against the Green Bay Packers last year. Packers president Bob Harlan confirmed that the man was escorted away, but put up quite a fight. If this is a recurring incident that officials are aware of, why is nothing done about it?
If the NFL finds the Patriots were indeed using cameras to spy on other teams, the largest penalty they would suffer is the loss of one or more draft picks. For such seemingly pre-meditated and deliberate scheme, the punishment should be higher. Acts like this could change the outcome of entire games, putting other teams at a severe disadvantage. Though this is not at the same level of the NBA scandals, this poses a problem in the NFL. Events like this could be very common, and they should be dealth with more seriously.
On Friday, September 7, it was reported in St. Louis Daily News that pitcher-turned-hitter Rick Ankiel recieved eight shipments of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in December 2004. The discovery caused an immediate uproar, as Ankiel’s story from the mound to the outfield was being heralded as the “feel good” story of the MLB season. After suffering through the moral ordeal that was Barry Bonds, the baseball world wanted a story of triumph, a story of a down-and-out player who would rise to prominence against all odds. Ankiel seemed to provide this, until the shipments from the company Signature Pharmacy were unearthed.
After being called up to the Major Leagues on August 9th, Ankiel proceeded to hit at a ferocious pace, accumulating 9 home runs and 29 RBI’s in just 23 games. The public finally felt they could believe that a player could achieve great things without the aid of steriods or unfair advantages. Now, Ankiel is only another setback for the integrity of professional baseball.
A short time later, it was reported that third baseman Troy Glaus recieved shipments of performance enhancing drugs that, unlike HGH, were banned from MLB at the time they were shipped. Glaus recieved the drugs from the same pharmacy that provided Ankiel with HGH. The floodgates continue to open as outfielder Jay Gibbons has been tied to Signature Pharmacy as well.
All three men were allegedy part of an illegal online network that distributed drugs to numerous athletes. As the casualites continue to rise, Major League Baseball will have to brace itself for another BALCO-like scandal. The question now becomes: can baseball be saved?
As of now, there is no reliable way to test for HGH, and the Players Union has refused to allow blood testing. If a system is not set in place, the problem will continue to escalate, and all the integrity of the game will be destroyed. Even now, fans are wary to trust a player who suddenly experiences an increase in productivity. Good years are being attributed to steriod use, fast comebacks are linked to HGH. More players will be discovered, and fans may find that performance enhancers have become engrained into the sport. Baseball can only try to fix the problem by establishing a strict, Olympic-level drug testing policy.