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Those Cheating Patriots Lose 2 Days of OTAs After Getting Caught Cheating Again Like the Cheaters They Are

Boston Globe. Getty Images.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. Today was a day I'd been looking forward to for weeks. Ever since the Patriots' spring practice schedule was announced, I'd virtually circled today on my abstract calendar and planned to make the trip to Gillette to report back to you on all of it. How Mac Jones looks. What changes we can see so far in Bill O'Brien's offense. How the rookies from this year look and who among last year's seems to be making the all-important Year 2 Bounce. Not for my own enjoyment, mind you. But out of a sense of duty to you. And to hope my selflessness and sacrifice encourages others to pay it forward in this wicked world. 

But that world had other plans for us all:

Source - The New England Patriots are losing two days of organized team activities due to a violation of offseason rules, league sources told ESPN.

The team had been scheduled for an OTA on Thursday, the first to be attended by reporters this offseason, but the club announced Wednesday that it had been canceled.

Thursday's OTA, in addition to another next week, were taken away as part of the violation, according to sources. It wasn't immediately known what the specific violation was. …

In recent seasons, the Cowboys (2021, 2022), Bears (2022), Commanders (2022), Texans (2022), 49ers (2021), Jaguars (2021), Ravens (2018) and Seahawks (2016) have been penalized for violations of offseason rules.

By and large, when teams get docked OTA workouts, it's typically for running contract drills in practice. The NFL Players Association monitors that stuff and reports the violations. As a matter of fact, that 2018 Ravens' punishment was a direct result of them signing Ben Watson in 2017. He was the team's union rep and found out they'd been running the rookies through full contact practices for years and dropped a dime. In addition to losing the two practices, John Harbaugh was fined $50,000 for being a repeat offender. Not uncoincidentally, he was released right after the season.

By the same token, last year's punishments handed out to the Bears, Commanders and Cowboys were all contact-related, with Ron Rivera getting docked $100K. And the 2016 Seahawks lost a full week plus a 5th round pick for what was deemed "excessive" contact. So it's not all uncommon for teams to violate the rules, get caught, and be punished.

But this isn't just any team this time. This is the New England bloody Patriots we're talking about. They are serial cheaters. Recidivists. Habitual criminal offenders. They're not going to just cross some vague, fine line that trips up a lot of coaching staffs. They're going to distract the NFLPA rep like a WWE tag team, obliterate that line, and draw their own. They're going to ruthlessly do whatever it takes to gain an unfair advantage and break every rule in the book. Because the very integrity of the game means nothing to these evil nihilists. 

If you think the people who have brought you more -Gates than a fence company committed some simple violation of the rules against contact in spring drills, you are hopelessly naive and I feel sorry for you. Given Bill Belichick's record, I think it's safe to say he was running rookie camp like the floor boss at some Dickensian workhouse. Abusing the help for 16 hour days with no breaks. No water. Just a bowl of thin gruel three times a day and then it's right back to making textiles/running Oklahoma drills. 

And if you think I might be exaggerating, you'd better think again. What about all those past rules Belichick broke? Secret spy cameras. His minions sneaking game balls into the toilet to surreptitiously let air out of them. Remember how Tony Dungy used to talk to his staff in the hallway at Gillette because he knew the locker room was bugged? How Mike Tomlin figured out Belichick was jamming the radio signal to Ben Roethlisberger's helmet? And how the 2014 Seahawks were watching the hills above their Super Bowl practice field for spies with telephoto lenses? And have we all forgotten about the tape of the Rams' Super Bowl walkthrough that ESPN still reports every once in a while? 

My money is on this being much, much worse than just a couple of rookies bumping into each other. I think we should all take it as a sign the Patriots organization is back to a philosophy of winning at all costs. And terrible, terrible days are ahead for all who believe in fair play. 

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Anyway, their first practice is now scheduled for Wednesday the 31st. I'll be there. And I better not catch them breaking any rules.

Ethan Miller. Getty Images.