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By Tom E. Curran
I'm finally starting to understand why Bill Belichick keeps his staff of assistants small in number and quiet of mouth.
Take a look at the bite marks on his ass.
Today, Fox' Jay Glazer reported that Josh McDaniels told his Broncos coaching staff on Friday that the Patriots practice of videotaping opponents was something "that was practiced, that was coached, that was worked on."
McDaniels addressed his staff on the topic after the firing of team video director Steve Scarnecchia (another former Patriots' assistant and son of longtime Patriots' assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia). Scarnecchia had the bright idea of taping a portion of the San Francisco 49ers walkthrough when the Broncos were in London last month.
When Scarnecchia presented McDaniels with the tape like a cat showing up at the door with a field mouse in its mouth, McDaniels fainted dead away. After coming to, he decided to say . . . nothing at all to anyone.
But word made its way around the Denver complex anyway. Eventually, higher-ups caught wind of it and self-reported to the NFL. The league threw down $100,000 in fines. Scarnecchia got fired and now is facing a possible lifetime ban.
Glazer said that, on Friday, after the poop had hit the fan, McDaniels called a meeting to tell everyone why he wasn't as diabolical as Belichick. Glazer also reported that he told his staff to keep their collective mouth shut about the whole thing.
Well, that didn't work.
The whole dustup has reinvigorated conversation about the Patriots using videotape to record the hand signals of opposing defensive coordinators from field level even after the league sent a memo asking teams (the Patriots in particular) to cut the crap with the field-level video.
That practice was popularly known as "Spygate" and gave a football-watching nation weary of the Patriots' success, prominence, perceived arrogance and sanctimony more than enough artillery to blow holes in the hull of the NFL's only post-salary cap dynasty.
Now, thanks to McDaniels' production of "Spygate II, Dante's Spawn" anti-Patriots Nation a chance to reload. Handy, because the Patriots are 9-2 and tied for the best record in the league with the New York Jets. And the Patriots play the Jets next Monday night in a game too big to overhype. And "Spygate I, Mangenius Attacks!" occurred when former Patriots assistant Eric Mangini was with the Jets and whistle was originally blown. Which will give current Jets coach Rex Ryan a tweaking opportunity in the next week or so.
So what should have been a quiet, post-Thanksgiving weekend spent luxuriating in the glow of their record and overachievement so far, turned into the Patriots getting pilloried again for stupidity past.
Even if every coach on his staff denied McDaniels said the Patriots "practiced, coached and worked on" videotaping skills, it doesn't matter now. The embers have been poked as they are every few weeks (Brad Childress, Terrell Suggs, the City of Pittsburgh) and the fire's still burning low and steady.
True or false doesn't matter. Reality -- including the fact that the penalty and coverage of Spygate in 2007 and 2008 was like deploying CNN to cover a treed cat -- doesn't matter.
The volume and persistence of the message is what matters. Spygate ain't never gonna die.
The post-Patriots Josh McDaniels is worried about his own ass. And if he has to push an assistant or former mentor into traffic to save it, so be it.
Anyone looking for video evidence of this need only take a look here.Bill Belichick, Tom E. Curran, josh mcdaniels