Beyond the Bison Sports News Across the Nation: “Second Opinion”

Julian Dorey, Senior Writer

Feb. 6, 2005. The date doesn’t seem so significant. But, boy is it ever. You know why? Because it’s the last time Bill Belichick and Tom Brady hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

Yes, the perennially “great” Patriots teams of the last 15 years haven’t actually won anything in almost 10 years. And yes, that means they haven’t won a Super Bowl since that thing people were talking about back in 2007. What was it called? Oh yeah! Spygate. You know … that thing where the Patriots were caught illegally videotaping a New York Jets game that captured the team’s defensive signals?

Why is it that in today’s media-scrutinized society, we have seemingly pushed some inarguable facts under the rug of an enormous sports scandal? One could argue that the three Super Bowl-winning Patriot teams of 2001, 2003, and 2004 had half the talent that their ringless teams in 2007, 2010, and 2011 had. One could also watch game tape of no other games besides the three Super Bowl victories themselves and see that the Patriots curiously seemed to have a perfect understanding of some never-before-seen-in-a-game wrinkles that the Rams, Panthers, and Eagles implemented respectively.

I, for one, can vividly remember scratching my head in pure confusion when the Patriots came out with entirely different precision in the second half of their victory over the Eagles. I remember thinking to myself, “Man, that Belichick must’ve given the best damn halftime speech this side of ‘Any Given Sunday.’”

Probably not. He probably watched stolen tapes and consulted with his team to determine how the Eagles’ plays hurting the Pats and how they could curtail them.”

How does that sit right with anyone? Look at the Patriots now. They have, by all accounts, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. They have routinely rewritten offensive record books in the last seven years with numbers that their Super Bowl offenses couldn’t have dreamed of matching. They went undefeated in a regular season, becoming the first team to do so since 1972, and they have continually owned the AFC East. Yet no rings. Why?

Maybe because the two weeks of preparation heading into the Super Bowl is what the Patriots used to count on to formulate the perfect game plan to fight against anything new and improved (or even old and great) that their big-game opponent could throw at them. The fact is, you can do a lot more from a game-planning stand point in two weeks than you can in one, especially when the other team is also gearing up for the biggest game of them all and is willing to try things with their game plan that only a game like the Super Bowl could call for.

Without their normal two-week Super Bowl preparation sans illegal videotapes, Belichick and his staff fell mightily short twice against the New York Giants in February 2008 and February 2012. Coincidence? I think not.

Heading into the 2014 season, many pundits are finally beginning whispers like “The Patriots are getting older—their window of Super Bowl contention may finally be closed.” If these thoughts do indeed come to fruition and we have seen the last of the “great” Belichick-Brady combination—I must ask, what really is their legacy?

At the very least, everyone who has consciously or subconsciously ignored Spygate needs to seek a second opinion.

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