* The Asterisk is Back!

People are obviously getting bored with the whole scene in Arizona, as a fresh and new storyline has emerged from the media minds – The Asterisk!

You probably saw this link this morning below to the AP article with the director of the National Institute of Sports Reform saying that the Patriots deserve an asterisk for the Spygate scandal. It means nothing that this gentleman is a Giants fan and season ticket holder. (Ironically, he’s originally from New England and roots for the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.)

That’s just the start, the humble and creative Jay Mariotti also attacks this fresh story writing:

We didn't pardon Martha Stewart or Sammy Sosa. Why does Belichick get a hall pass from the global media? Why isn't he required to explain himself? He was smacked with a $500,000 fine, the highest ever handed an NFL coach. The Patriots were fined $250,000 and stripped of a No. 1 draft choice. Some of us wondered aloud if an asterisk should be attached to a perfect season, just as an asterisk should be affixed to Bonds' home-run total.

Yeah, Belichick gets a hall pass all right. What is the fascination with making Belichick “explain himself?” What is that going to accomplish? The Patriots were punished to a degree never seen in NFL history, and yet the self-important types like Mariotti insist during Super Bowl week that Belichick come cowering to them and explain everything. The Dan Patrick radio show talked about how the Patriots perhaps shouldn’t get an asterisk for their wins this season, but perhaps their previous wins are tainted.

If people have an issue with how the matter was handled and the fact that the tapes were destroyed without anything being revealed about what was on them, shouldn’t they take this up with the league? Why are they demanding more from the team? The team did everything the league asked, they turned over the tapes, they took the judgment, ended up giving their first round pick and paid huge fines, Belichick apologized – via a press release, and all involved are “moving on.” Some self-important guardians of the gate are unable to.

This topic was picked up by Dennis and Callahan on WEEI this morning, as Gerry also wants an explanation. He then went off onto an ill–conceived rant about how he knows that the Patriots were stealing signals for the purpose of using them in the same game. He insisted that the Patriots were stealing the signals in the first half and deciphering them all in time to use for the second half of games. He cites as proof the fact that the Jets changed their signals in the second half. If the Jets had time to come up with a completely new set of signals, then certainly the Patriots had time to figure out their first half signals.

Makes sense, right? Err, not really. Wouldn’t it make sense for the teams to have several sets of signs already prepared, so they can change them up at any time, rather than making a new set in 10 minutes during halftime?

Howie Long had some great comments on this matter:

"Do you honestly believe the New England Patriots were the only team filming other teams' sidelines?" Long said during a press conference Tuesday leading up to Super Bowl XLII here Sunday. "Let's be real. They say a memorandum was sent out. A memorandum that said what? 'We really mean the rule that was in place last year. We really, really mean it.' I don't know if that's a box (the NFL) wants to open.

"I'm also not naive enough to believe that the Patriots were even close to being the only team doing that. I think it's a far more common practice than anyone wants to talk about. And if you're offended by that, and if you really want to dive into that, then dive into the whole league.

"I think it's kind of a code that (NFL coaches) don't talk about it. It's the white elephant in the room that everyone walks around."

Jimmy Johnson related a story the other day about how when he went to Miami, they told him about how they had discovered a way to manipulate the time limit on conversations to the quarterback headset – a huge advantage.

Leonard Shapiro warns Patriots-haters not to expect any Spygate talk in FOX’s telecast Sunday, as the network doesn’t want to get into the topic. Another good quote from Long in there:

You have a commissioner who came in as Wyatt Earp and he's laying down the law. And I also believe that if they (the Patriots) didn't already have two No. 1 picks, I'm not sure they (the NFL) would have taken a No. 1 pick away from them.

Charles Bricker says teams have always cheated because its a way to get an edge, and that Belichick is not alone.

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