Patriots

Why believe Bill Belichick? The Mona Lisa Vito press conference

Why believe Bill Belichick? The Mona Lisa Vito press conference

So what, we’re supposed to believe that a guy in a New England Patriots shirt filming the sideline of an upcoming opponent from the press box wasn’t following explicit orders from Bill Belichick?

He was just innocently filming B-roll of the things an advance scout in the NFL looks at during a game, not there for something more … sinister? That if Bill Belichick had happened on the scene he would have tackled the guy rather than patted him on the head?

Well, yes.

And I’m basing a lot of that on Belichick’s response to a question about SpyGate that he answered during his epic "Mona Lisa Vito" press conference in early 2015, the day before the Patriots flew out to Arizona for Super Bowl 49.

The topic of the day was DeflateGate and Belichick — in a surreal 20 minutes — detailed how he’d run experiments to find how footballs lost air pressure and blah, blah, blah, see it all below.

But Belichick’s response to a question posed by Associated Press reporter Jimmy Golen about the videotaping scandal a decade earlier made everyone’s ears perk up.

"I mean, look, that's a whole other discussion," Belichick said. "The guy's giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong then, we've been disciplined for that. … The guy's in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody [on the] sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That's it. We never did it again. We're never going to do it again and anything else that's close, we're not going to do, either."

There’s a lot of meat on the bone in that 120-word response — especially the sideswipe mention of a lot of other teams doing the same thing — but what I focus in on is the end of the statement.

“We never did it again. We're never going to do it again and anything else that's close, we're not going to do, either."

Taping opposing sidelines and deciphering hand signals was never, ever worth the time, effort, headache, scandal, fine, embarrassment and reputation stain it caused.

It just didn’t produce fruit. Belichick once told me, “If there were 100 things to do to get ready for a game, that stuff was about 99 on the list. It wasn’t a priority.”

So why did they do it? Because it was available intel that could be gathered. Before every game, you’ll see members of coaching staffs from both teams standing at the 50-yard line watching their opponents warm up. Staring. Gathering any last-minute intel on how injured players might be moving, which players are lining up where, anything. How much does it help? Probably not much. Why do it? Because it’s there.  

The idea that Belichick would stand at a podium, more than seven years removed from the day the Patriots had a videographer pinched on the Jets sideline and be that adamant, then four years later give the OK to have a guy in a Patriots shirt stand in a press box and film the sideline for team consumption?

Like nobody would notice? Like nobody would care? He’s smarter than that. I’m smarter than that. You’re smarter than that.

People will believe what they want to believe. The vast majority of football-watching America will believe the Patriots were cheating because that’s the narrative they’ve been fed for a decade and a half.

Anything requiring people with their minds made up to think critically about an allegation is going to be dismissed out of hand. That’s why this is swallowed whole and pooped out as truth the same way Mike Tomlin’s intimations the Patriots were jamming their headsets in early 2015 was accepted as truth and — after it was debunked by the NFL — left a dent.

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Peyton Manning claims Giants beating Patriots as 'favorite Super Bowl memory'

Peyton Manning claims Giants beating Patriots as 'favorite Super Bowl memory'

Peyton Manning either is a very supportive brother or delights in seeing his long-time rival fail. Or a little of both.

In a tribute to younger brother Eli Manning, who announced his retirement from the New York Giants on Friday, Peyton insisted his "favorite Super Bowl memory" was watching Eli defeat the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

"I think people don't really believe me or are surprised [when I say] my greatest Super Bowl memory is watching my little brother take the New York Giants down the field in a two-minute drill and beat the undefeated Patriots and all that came with that," Peyton said in an interview with Broncos.com's Aric DiLalla.

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"Maybe I wasn't as happy as the '72 Dolphins, who I promise you were celebrating and they're on record saying that, but I was pretty close."

Let's get this straight: Peyton enjoyed watching someone else win a Super Bowl (during a season in which his Indianapolis Colts were bounced early in the playoffs) more than he enjoyed winning two Super Bowls for two different teams (with the Colts in 2006 and the Denver Broncos in 2013)?

"It was just pride and he's five years younger than me and you kind of reflect on the times growing up," Peyton said, adding that his memories of Eli as a "quiet, calm and cool kid" made it "surreal" to watch Eli lead an upset of one of the greatest teams of all time.

"That's my greatest Super Bowl memory without a doubt, even more than the ones I was able to participate in," Peyton said. "He did it."

That Eli's first Super Bowl win came over Tom Brady and the Patriots probably made it that much sweeter for Peyton, who was 6-11 against Brady during his career.

Super Bowl XLII was one of Brady's most painful memories, so maybe this was Peyton's way of getting revenge for Tom calling him out on "Peyton's Places" earlier this month.

Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola gives his take on Tom Brady's NFL future

Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola gives his take on Tom Brady's NFL future

Danny Amendola is the latest NFL player to weigh in on the future of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady is able to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in March unless he and the Patriots come to a contract agreement before that point. The 42-year-old quarterback has spent his entire 20-year career in New England, but nothing lasts forever and you can bet most teams would love to add Brady to their roster if he ever chose to leave the Patriots.

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Amendola appeared on ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Friday, where he was asked about Brady's upcoming decision. He doesn't know exactly what will happen, but he noted family definitely will play a factor.

"It's going to go however he wants. He's the ultimate competitor," Amendola said. "I think as his kids get older, he wants to spend time with his family. I think that's going to weigh heavily on his decision and where he goes, and he can set that up the way he wants. His competitive nature, his ability is still through the roof. And whatever team gets him -- if he stays in New England or if he goes somewhere else -- he's going to bring a high level of football there."

When asked about the Los Angeles Chargers being a potential destination for Brady, Amendola admitted it's difficult to see the six-time Super Bowl champion in a different uniform.

"It's hard for me to see him in any other jersey than a Patriots jersey, so I'm holding on just like everybody else is," Amendola said.

Patriots fans obviously would love for Brady to return for at least one more season in New England, and most of them probably wouldn't mind Amendola coming back as well. The Patriots need to upgrade their depth and talent at wide receiver before the 2020 season, and Amendola will be a free agent in March.

Phil Perry: Why Pats can't wait on Tom Brady's free agent tour