Tuesday, September 11, 2007

League Reviewing Video Confiscated from Patriots Employee

Is it just me, or has every big sports story in the news lately involve the seedy under belly of sports.

The latest comes from the New England Patriots of the NFL.

On the sidelines during Sunday's season opener against the New York Jets, a video camera was confiscated from a Patriots employee and sent to the league office for review. The tape is suspected to confirm rumors of New England filming defensive play-calling signals for later reviewed in conjunction with actual plays in order to decipher signals. Something that could be a huge advantage against a team in the same division, who face each other twice per season, which the Jets are.

The league has specific guidelines barring any recording devices on the field, in the coaches booth, or in the locker rooms. In an official statement the NFL acknowledged warning clubs that filming play-calling signals is strictly prohibited.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com was the first to report the story. His sources include an undisclosed member of the NFL competition committee who was quoted referring to the Patriots alleged violation, "It's not their first time."

A statement Green Bay Packers president Bob Harlen collaborates, admitting the same New England employee was removed from the sidelines during a 2006 match-up between the Packers and Patriots.

The news might come as a shock to most fans, but considering the amount of money that hangs in the balance, it's surprising this doesn't happen more often. You need look no further than the extracurricular activities of corporate America to see how rampant corruption becomes when money and power are on the line. Juiced players, stealing signals, corked bats. These are the sports industry's answer to accounting fraud and industrial espionage.

But as the league reviews the evidence against the New England Patriots, the same foul question hangs in the air that was left following the Enron scandal. Are the Patriots the only team resorting to such tactics, or is such corruption widespread, and are they the only ones stupid enough to get themselves caught?

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