I met veteran sports writer Bob Ryan once. He's a charming, sports knowledgeable, straight shooter who appears on PTI occasionally.
Well, today, Bob Ryan -- who writes for the Boston Globe -- has come out with a scathing article roundly criticizing Bill Belichick for his cheating in Spygate, but even worse for his cover-up and refusal to show remorse or regret. Ryan invokes Richard Nixon and Watergate, the cover up is worse than the crime. Ryan even floats the idea that the Patriots owner Bob Kraft should fire Belichick, which would then give even more credence to his wrongdoing. Here's a sample of Ryan's scathing criticism of Belichick:
"It doesn't matter, because the only thing that does matter now is the image of the New England Patriots. The sports community now associates the Patriots with cheating. The three Super Bowl championships are, and forever will be, under suspicion. The thought will never go away.
"Let Mike Martz, coach of the vanquished Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl, absolve the Patriots all he wants. A year from now, five years from now, 50 years from now, who will know or remember what Mike Martz said? The Patriots have been irrevocably stained. They will be, in the eyes of many, the reverse Black Sox. They will be the team that broke the rules. Their three Super Bowls will be regarded as ill-gotten gain.
"And Bill Belichick still hasn't fessed up. * * *
"Now we know that Bill Belichick covered up, and may still be covering up. Matt Walsh says he was told to prepare a cover story for his activities, even as Bill Belichick continues to insist that he had "misinterpreted" the rule in question. He alone of the 32 coaches was confused. Amazing. The commissioner didn't buy it, and neither should anyone else.
"The cover-up is what matters now. Bill Belichick has yet to seek mercy from the National Court of Public Opinion. He has his story, and he's sticking to it. He's going to stonewall it, just as he stonewalls a routine injury inquiry. It's just his nature, apparently."
My take: This is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's worst nightmare. He tried to preemptively get rid of Spygate by destroying all the tapes and then issuing a penalty on Belichick and the Patriots. But that turned out to be the worst decision of Goodell's life. It only fed into the perception of a cover up, which Bill Belichick has fomented with his incredibly stubborn refusal to come clean or to show any remorse. Bob Ryan is spot on -- there is a permanent stain on all 3 Patriot Super Bowl victories. Roger Goodell's only way out of this mess is to suspend Belichick for 1 season or more, or to strip the Patriots of all 3 Super Bowl victories.