ESPN is Still Looking Into SpyGate and Claims Trump Made it Go Away. You Have GOT to Be Shitting Us With This.

Like most people who reach what is often euphemistically referred to as "a certain age," I often enjoy spending time thinking about the past. Rewatching old movies and TV from my youth. Listening to classic hits that were cutting edge when I first heard them. Watching YouTubes of historic events that I'm old enough to remember when they were current events. It's fun and oddly comforting at the same time to look back on where you came from, especially when the world seems to change by the hour. 

But there's a difference between appreciating the past and living in it. Time marches on. You've got to be able to stay present. As the Zen Buddhists teach, the future is an illusion and the past only matters in so far as how it shaped your here and now. 

Take Patriots history, for example. Personally, I find it rewarding to have written the story of their often dysfunctional and hilarious past. (And profitable. Father's Day is coming up, kids.) Because it's entertaining, but also because it puts the last 20 years in historical perspective. But the present is utterly fascinating. And not to be ignored. The 2021 Patriots are a team in transition that has crushed the offseason and might have their next great, dynastic roster. So you'd have to be deranged to be digging into nonsense that's been dead and buried, resolved and moved on from, over a decade ago. Which is precisely what ESPN is up to, in typical ESPN fashion. 

In Week 1 of 2007, I was writing for an upstart bi-monthly sports and entertainment newspaper with a modest online presence and a growing and extremely loyal fanbase. The Patriots had just beaten the Eric Mangini's Jets and Dave texted to ask if I was going to write about some report that the Patriots were caught spying on the Jets. I looked into it, wrote about it, but didn't make much of it. A minor infraction like having a camera not in the area of the stadium designated for teams to point cameras at opposing sidelines struck me as a nothingburger with a small side of fries. The equivalent of parking in the red zone. I didn't think it would be a story that would define a season. And for sure, I never in my wildest, bourbon-fueled dreams imagined they'd still be investigating it into the second decade of the 21st century. But I completely underestimated the battleship chain-sized hair the World Wide Leader has across its ass for this particular franchise. One they still haven't removed:

Source - IN THE SPRING of 2008, the NFL was in crisis. A hard-charging United States senator from Pennsylvania named Arlen Specter had launched an investigation into the Spygate scandal. He tried to determine how many games the New England Patriots' illegal videotaping operation of opposing coaches' signals had helped the team win and learn why the NFL, under the orders of commissioner Roger Goodell, had destroyed all evidence of the cheating. By May, Specter -- a former Philadelphia district attorney and a lifelong Eagles fan -- was so angry at the "stonewalling" of his inquiry by the league and the Patriots that he called for an independent investigator, similar to the Mitchell investigation of steroid use in professional baseball. League executives and coaches might be forced to testify under oath. The prospect sent the league, and its new commissioner, into panic. "If it ever got to an investigation," Goodell said at one point, "it would be terrible for the league." …

But there was one man, a mutual friend of Specter and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who believed that he could make the investigation go away. … He had been a generous political patron of Specter's for two decades. …

The friend offered Specter what the senator felt was tantamount to a bribe: "If you laid off the Patriots, there'd be a lot of money in Palm Beach." …

Not only that: Trump had told Specter he was acting on behalf of Robert Kraft.

Kraft and Trump, both responding to ESPN through spokespeople, denied involvement in any effort to influence Specter's investigation.

Huh? What? I'm sorry. I dozed off into my lunch. Give me a second to wipe the PB&J off my cheek so I can respond. Here is this story told in sensational spinning headline format, like in a Turner Classic Movie:

Patriots Point Camera at Sidelines in Front of 80,000 Fans Pointing Cameras!

Commissioner: That'll Cost You a 1st Rounder!

Career Politician Panders to Voters!

Career Politician Accepts Payments from Politically Ambitious TV Businessman!

Career Politician OUTRAGED That Politically Ambitious TV Businessman Who Bribes Him Wants Something!

Specter Dead! Will Continue to Pander to Voters From Hell!

 I am shocked - SHOCKED! - to think that such shenanigans might have gone on 13 years ago. Imagine a billionaire, unrepentant attention whore like Donald J. Trump dropping names and acting like he can get one of the senators he funnels money to do him a solid. What could've tipped us off that he'd see himself as a dealmaker? Was it his book "The Art of the Deal"? Or the fact that he spent decades openly admitting he gave huge bundles of cash to everyone from Arlen Specter to Bill and Hillary Clinton to both President Bushes and virtually every lawmaker in New York and New Jersey? I'm going to try not to let it destroy my faith in the integrity of leaders like Sen. Specter. 

Now we're supposed to get the vapors because Specter's son claims The Donald asked his dad to drop a sham of a congressional investigation into a misdemeanor rules violation his friend's team was already severely over-punished for. Nope. Sorry, kid. You're pumping a dry well on this one. 

As long as we're living in the past, ESPN, here's a history lesson for you: The NFL took their pound of flesh. That No. 1 pick they took away would've been 10 years of the next Vince Wilfork or the next Devin McCourty. The Patriots paid dearly for something everyone was doing. A minor infraction at most. Specter tried to keep it going because it made for good press with all the butthurt Eagles and Steelers fans who vote in his state. And apparently Trump's bribe worked because he dropped it. Now he's dead. And the only thing that didn't change is that the Patriots kept winning. They went to that year's Super Bowl. Another four seasons later. Then four more after that. And won three more. All without the benefit of those worthless sideline cameras the world go so pissy about. And which ESPN still can't shut up about. 


But thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Now off you fuck. Kiss the rings.