FanDuel - WFBC

November 07, 2007

Getting Tough with the '72 Dolphins: In response to Don Shula's asterisk comments, Neate Sager takes a closer look at the perfect-record Dolphins and their schedule, trying to envision how their story would be treated by today's media.

posted by DrJohnEvans to football at 10:20 AM - 62 comments

17-0* * not exactly gracious winners. [And this from a lifelong Dolphins fan who would take Shula and Marino above any other coach and QB ever anywhere.]

posted by tieguy at 10:34 AM on November 07

I'm dipped if I can see what Shula hopes to gain by throwing mud at the Pats. It's sports, and records get broken, and if you were a monster twenty or thirty years ago and it's only now that someone's challenging the record you set then...well, congratulations, because you had a pretty damn good run of it. But sports records do get broken. When they do, it's pretty hard for the previous record holder to offer criticism and not look like a petulant has-been.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:51 AM on November 07

not to mention the Pats will have to go 19-0 to match the '72 Dolphins 17-0. And if the record only counts the regular season, then they would have to go 16-0 instead of 14-0 as the Fins did.

posted by Ricardo at 11:15 AM on November 07

Wow, thanks for the link. I don't know what to take away from that. Were they even the best team of that decade? Unlikely, given the Steelers championship teams.

posted by yerfatma at 11:24 AM on November 07

The '72 Dolphins are turning their legacy from one of great accomplishment to one of poor sportsmanship. Their yearly celebration when the last undefeated team loses has always struck me as extremely lame -- how many other record holders behave in that manner? Seeing Shula make a pre-emptive strike on the Patriots, nine games before they could even tie the record, is a huge disappointment. He can kiss my asterisk.

posted by rcade at 11:35 AM on November 07

Very interesting story. I can see why the Dolphins went undefeated too. But, I do believe that most if not all of us are missing a bit of the issue here. Being that the Dolphins are the "only" team to go undefeated in the history of the league, and that is being challenged strongly by the Pats, Shula probably has to field many questions about this issue. Now, with that said, I don't believe that he should have made the statements he did, but he did make them and they are in fact true - like them or not. The Pats (and the hoodie) were fined the highest amount possible and surrendered a 1st round pick. That is unheard of by today's standards. Heck, the owner even had to pay a quarter of a million on this. I believe what he is mainly trying to get at is not the one game they got caught cheating, but the file-cabinet full of materials that the NFL disposed of so quickly that nobody could see if this went back further than we know. I doubt that he did get that much material from part of the first half of the first game this year. Think about it this way, you know that he was caught cheating on a rule that was quite simple - do not record other coaches signals. He had done so in previous years but they never confiscated the tapes or looked. But then, there was a different commish then too. I do believe that if you have to surrender 3/4 of a million and a first round pick, imagine what was contained in the file cabinet. I for one would have loved to know - but nobody ever will. That is why the debate will ring on for years. I believe the Pats are the best team without a doubt, but they could get beat by the Colts in a rematch, or any other team. "On any given Sunday". But, Shula needs to stop the nonsense of making it sound like sour grapes.

posted by Mickster at 11:42 AM on November 07

With all due respect to Shula, I think after a certain number of years some people suffer from an acute case of "Get offa' my Lawn!" Tossing aside their own dignity to diminish someone else's accomplishment just looks way petty. Let me preface my next comments with the following: sorrysorrysorrysorrysorrysorrysorry If we can accept Barry Bonds as the HR king (because he is) then we can accept Belichick and the Pats as the, uhh, the umm, 18 and 0'ers if and when they get there. Even though I think Belichick is a pre-cognizant troll using his magical powers for evil. A records a record. Or something.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:51 AM on November 07

The backlash against Shula seems a little unwaranted to me. From the article: "I guess it will be noted that the Patriots were fined and a No. 1 draft choice was taken away during that year of accomplishment. The sad thing is Tom Brady looks so good, it doesn't look like he needs any help." This sounds more to me like the reporter asked a pointed question to get a response out of Shula to make it into a bigger story than it is. Furthermore, most of the things he said were very complimentary of the Patriots. As far as the '72 Dolphins' weak schedule, who cares? This isn't even college, so you can't blame them for not scheduling tougher teams. They played the teams on the schedule and beat them all. If you want to debate how good they were compared to other teams of that decade or otherwise, fine, but an undefeated season is an undefeated season.

posted by bender at 11:52 AM on November 07

how many other record holders behave in that manner? ISTR that Calvin Murphy used to go to basketball games where a player was closing in on his consecutive free throw mark and heckle the player when he was at the line. I can't find any evidence of that online, though, so it might just be a myth.

posted by drumdance at 11:56 AM on November 07

I'm sure Belichick is the only coach that has ever cheated. (not) He just got caught. Even if you know the signals; you still have to execute. The Patriots are a fine tuned machine. Knowing the other teams signals does'nt make : Brady's arm any better, Moss run faster, or opposing defenses miss tackles. Execution is key.

posted by fourthreeforty at 01:40 PM on November 07

This is what is so wrong about this situation. The Patriots cheated and it was proven, yet if it gets pointed out then the one pointing it out is the bad guy. If the Patriots are so good, why did they feel they had to cheat? A weak schedule is not the same as cheating! For those of us who are old enough to remember, the Dolphins didn't have an easy schedule.

posted by Familyman at 01:57 PM on November 07

Didn't that the Dolphins of the 70's have a 1st round pick taken away for cheating too?

posted by Hannibal at 02:06 PM on November 07

This sounds more to me like the reporter asked a pointed question to get a response out of Shula to make it into a bigger story than it is. I agree with that statement. The great Don Shula was on ESPN yesterday and basically said just that. He was asked a simple question and gave an honest response. I can understand why people would feel as if the '72 Dolphins are acting like sore winners if any team comes close to this prestigious record but like LBB said, "...records do get broken" The Patriots cheated and it was proven That may be true but if what's being said is true, the Pats couldn't even use the video that was recorded of the Jets and considering that they were caught before halftime, they couldn't even preview the video to make their adjustments. This was the very first game of the season for the Pats and since now they have to look over their shoulders, I doubt that they're still recording the other team's defensive schemes. If they so happen to claim this elusive perfect season, I personally don't think it'll be tainted or deserves an asterisk.

posted by BornIcon at 02:07 PM on November 07

Familyman you obviously missed these comments after the last time you posted a comment very similar to the one you just made.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:20 PM on November 07

For those of us who are old enough to remember, the Dolphins didn't have an easy schedule. For those of us with the internet, the 1972 Dolphins had a very easy schedule, the easiest of those teams listed as the 80 greatest in NFL history. IIRC, Miami played a grand total of five teams that finished over .500 for the year -- and three of those were their three playoff games.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:32 PM on November 07

For those of us who are old enough to remember, the Dolphins didn't have an easy schedule. It was clearly explained in the article that they did, in fact, have an easy schedule. W-L-T KC 8-6-0 HOU 1-13-0 MIN 7-7-0 NYJ 7-7-0 SD 4-9-1 BUF 4-9-1 BAL 5-9-0 BUF 4-9-1 NE 3-11-0 NYJ 7-7-0 STL 4-9-1 NE 3-11-0 NYG 8-6-0 BAL 5-9-0 For a combined record of 70-122-4. Only 2 of the 14 teams (really only 10 teams) had winning records and those were barely winning records.

posted by Ricardo at 02:36 PM on November 07

D'oh! Beaten to the punch. Good one fraze.

posted by Ricardo at 02:39 PM on November 07

let's wait until the Pats go 19-0....if they do,and i for 1 hope they do, then let the debate begin. There are probably at least 5-8 teams in the league right now that could have beatin the fish. An the Pats are surely the best of them..

posted by jojopapa at 02:44 PM on November 07

Ying Yang Mafia, I saw your previous comments, just thought you might figure out your flawed logic on your own. So let me help you through this. If the Patriots didn't need to cheat then why did they? They evidently didn't think they could beat the Jets without cheating or they just cheat so much that it was a habit that they use all the time. If you have other explanations as to why they cheated then please make them clear.

posted by Familyman at 02:49 PM on November 07

And they've just magic'd their way past the other 8 teams, including Dallas and Indy? How deep are your fingers in your ears?

posted by yerfatma at 02:59 PM on November 07

Speaking of flawed logic. It sounds like you're saying every person/team who has ever cheated needed to cheat. Team A may be better than team B but knows the old "any given sunday" adage and may take "steps" (cheat) in order to lessen the chance they might get beat by a weaker team. I agree the Patriots cheated but I say they don't need to cheat. They are mopping up every opponent they come across with the exception of a narrow victory over the second best team in the NFL.

posted by Ricardo at 03:00 PM on November 07

If the Patriots didn't need to cheat then why did they? They evidently didn't think they could beat the Jets without cheating or they just cheat so much that it was a habit that they use all the time. Why did Nixon bug the Watergate Hotel when it was totally obvious that he would win the '72 election in a landslide?

posted by LionIndex at 03:02 PM on November 07

But let me ask you this: did Nixon lose a first-round draft pick?

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:07 PM on November 07

yerfatma, why don't you answer the question and explain why they cheated? Ricardo, Reread what I posted. Either they needed to cheat or it is a habit. Unless someone else has other ideas as to why they cheated? Also, as I said, weak schedule is not the same as cheating. The Dolphins did finish their season beating teams in the playoffs with a combined 35-13 record which I wouldn't call weak. However, weak schedule is subjective, cheating is not. LionIndex, It was his habit to be dishonest.

posted by Familyman at 03:15 PM on November 07

Does it matter? Do you honestly think the Patriots thought that they needed to cheat to beat the Jets? They may have used it to gain extra advantage but they were stopped in the first quarter. The Patriots went on to destory the Jets without cheating. So I'd say they didn't need it to win. As for a habit, then with your logic they've obviously cheated their way to Super Bowl victories and playoff berths. Which does not explain why they continue to demolish opponents after they were caught cheating.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:28 PM on November 07

Either they needed to cheat or it is a habit. Familyman, this statement is incorrect. That is your problem. They taped the signals because they thought it might help. Not because they thought would help, not because they absolutely needed it to beat the Jets, but because they thought it might give them an advantage. Do you understand the difference there?

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:38 PM on November 07

Every time the issue of the Patriots cheating comes up, the same excuses rear their ugly head. They didn't need to cheat or Cheating didn't help them or Everyone else cheats. All of the above MAY be true but so what? Try using these excuses on your wife or the IRS or any other situation and see where it gets you. I'm not saying that they deserve an asterisk or that they're not the best team in football right now. But all of these excuses regarding their cheating are just that: excuses. Why did Nixon bug the Watergate Hotel when it was totally obvious that he would win the '72 election in a landslide? You might recall that Nixon resigned in disgrace. The only US president ever to do so (Of course, compared to the Current Occupant, he's Abe Friggin Lincoln). So I'm not exactly sure what the point is here. Is Belichick going to resign in disgrace?

posted by cjets at 03:43 PM on November 07

cjets: All of the above MAY be true but so what? Try using these excuses on your wife or the IRS or any other situation and see where it gets you. It gets you slapped or fined or sleeping on the couch or punished in some other way. The Patriots were punished, but it'll be years before y'all haters are ready to get on with your lives.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:49 PM on November 07

I would like to predict that the Patriots will not go 19-0. I believe in my heart that they will sit a lot of the first string players for the Giants game at the end of the season. The Patriots will be better served in the playoffs by taking it easy during that game. The Giants may well need the win. Yeah, fun record and all, but not worth risking pre-playoff injuries, IMO. Ergo, the best we can hope to see is 18-1.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:51 PM on November 07

Oh, and I'm cool with the retired Dolphins having their party to celebrate that they kept their record. I don't think it is in the spirit of "in your face, young whippersnappers!" I think it is more of an excuse for some aging sportmen friends to come together and have a few beers and think about the glory days. I won't begrudge them that.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:52 PM on November 07

The Patriots were punished, but it'll be years before y'all haters are ready to get on with your lives. Why am I a hater? In my post above I made a point to say that they don't deserve an asterisk and that they are the best team in football. How is that hating? When this issue first come up regarding the Jets-Pats game in Spofi, I made it a point to say that the better team won, although I do believe that the cheating COULD have helped the Pats. Again, how is that hating? If I'm hating on anything, it's the excuses. If you cheat, you cheat. The fact that they didn't need to cheat, or that the cheating didn't help or that everyone else does it is irrelevant. That's what I'm responding to. Given the evidence presented, I also think the punishment fit the crime. The fact that you need to label me as a hater who needs years to get over this, when I've made a point not to overstate the issue at hand makes me think you're the one that can't get over this.

posted by cjets at 03:58 PM on November 07

Why can't we just accept that the Pats got caught doing what I'm sure a number of NFL teams do? And it's not like they stole the playbook, they were intercepting signals. When will some of you start to measure the action with the outcome? If stealing signs in the first quarter of a season will eradicate an entire undefeated season for you, I'd imagine not a lot of gray in that universe. I don't think that trying to steal signals is even half as bad as trying to intentionally injure a star QB, or even 5% as effective in affecting the outcome of the game. Yet that kind of play goes on all the time. It seems obvious to me that Goodell was wielding the banhammer and decided to make a nice big fat example out of Belichick for the benefit of the other teams doing similar things - with crowd noise, cameras, etc. Not to mention likely a punishment that takes into account past indescretions. Look - it's not like the rest of the league is suggesting the Pats don't deserve the respect that their record would indicate. It's just a bunch of media types and mouthpieces. Chapters 5-7 in "How 24 Hour Coverage of Anything Makes People More Stupid".

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:03 PM on November 07

I'm looking forward to the future, when the famous 2007 Miami Dolphins meet up at various NFL stadiums year after year to pop champagne corks and celebrate as that season's last winless team pops their cherry, preserving the 07 alumni's place in history.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 04:12 PM on November 07

All of the above MAY be true but so what? Try using these excuses on your wife or the IRS or any other situation and see where it gets you. But what's the point on the other side of the argument? I don't want to minimize what they did or apologize for it, but the only difference between them and 31 other teams seems to be they stole signals via a videotaper on the sidelines. Coordinators cover their mouths in games the Patriots aren't involved in. Why is that? So the Patriots cheated. We all agree. Now what are you saying that means? when the famous 2007 Miami Dolphins meet up at various NFL stadiums year after year to pop champagne corks Brilliant!

posted by yerfatma at 04:16 PM on November 07

So the Patriots cheated. We all agree. Now what are you saying that means? I think the Patriots deserve the loss of goodwill, and their fans should accept that. What is unfair about questioning not just this one incident of cheating but whatever other cheating techniques the genius Belichick has devised? The Pats have given everyone evidence that they value winning over maintaining the integrity of the game. Maybe every other team does as well, but those other teams haven't given concrete proof of that. It is unreasonable to expect people to draw the conclusion that this lapse in integrity was a one-off thing. It's not going to be remembered in the record books. And, their success will live long after hardly anyone remembers their punishments. (See the Broncos).

posted by bperk at 04:31 PM on November 07

but the only difference between them and 31 other teams seems to be they stole signals via a videotaper on the sidelines In the offseason, the Commissioner sent out a memo that specifically singled out videotaping of other teams signals as illegal and that it would be punished. Why? I can't read his mind but it might be to prevent a team from stockpiling videos of other team's signals. But at the end of the day it doesn't matter why. They knew it was cheating and chose to ignore it. Coordinators cover their mouths in games the Patriots aren't involved in. Why is that? So they won't get stolen. Hey, I don't agree with most of the IRS bullshit rules and regs but I break them at my own peril. So the Patriots cheated. We all agree. Now what are you saying that means? You may agree but I see a number of posters above who seem to think that the cheating is irrelevant or somehow excused because 1. It didn't help them or 2. They didn't need to or 3. Everyone else does it. To me, these are classic straw men arguments and the reason for my post in the first place. Beyond that? I refer to Chapters 5-7 in "How 24 Hour Coverage of Anything Makes People More Stupid". On preview: What Bperk said

posted by cjets at 04:39 PM on November 07

cjets, I don't think the posters above were arguing that the cheating should be excused or considered irrelevant. I think they were arguing that it doesn't have an effect on the legitimacy of the team's undefeated record.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 04:43 PM on November 07

I don't know, Dr. John. It seems to me that part of their argument as to why it doesn't effect the legitimacy is that the cheating is somehow excused because of all the reasons I listed above. Again, I don't think it effects the legitimacy either but this is despite the cheating not because the cheating is somehow excused.

posted by cjets at 05:00 PM on November 07

Coordinators cover their mouths in games the Patriots aren't involved in. Why is that? In homage to the high priest of slain strippers, of course.

posted by holden at 05:13 PM on November 07

To me, these are classic straw men arguments and the reason for my post in the first place. I don't think we're very far apart on anything except the definition of straw men. A straw man is when I misrepresent your position, not when I ask what real difference the taping made.

posted by yerfatma at 06:09 PM on November 07

I wasn't referring to you, Fatty. I was referring to the people that made that argument (the "number of posters" from my post above), which, for the record, I never believed to be you. Seems like I got it wrong in any case (not my argument, of course, on my use of the term straw men). And I don't think we're far apart either. I was just responding to the questions you asked me.

posted by cjets at 06:27 PM on November 07

Mr. Bismarck: I'm looking forward to the future, when the famous 2007 Miami Dolphins meet up at various NFL stadiums year after year to pop champagne corks and celebrate as that season's last winless team pops their cherry, preserving the 07 alumni's place in history.
Heh- brilliant, yet I've had the same thought. How ironic if the Dolphins go "unfeated" the same season that franchise's 1972 record is broken by the Patriots. Correct me if I'm wrong, but no team in NFL history has gone 0-16, and only the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs went 0-fer in a whole season, going 0-14 their first year in the league. The Dolphins going 0-16 would be record setting itself, albeit less champagne- inducing... maybe the 2007 Dolphins would get an asterisk beside their record, since they might manage to go 0-16 without the help of Don Shula. :) Anyone still mumbling about the cheating thing with the Patriots need only look up two threads on the main page, and understand this is the same NFL that fined a man $25,000 for wearing too much eyeblack. Not all "cheating" is equal, nor were the Patriots necessarily cheating- isn't that a media-coined term? They "violated league rules", did the league ever actually call them cheaters of any kind? If the Patriots were fined for the wrong color of jersey or too much white tape on their shoes, would you call them cheaters? I already know the retort the naysayers like Shula would proffer, that shoe color or jersey color is different thatn videotaping- but then, isn't that all we're doing in the end, is attempting to measure the meaningfulness and impact of the action that "violates league rules" in terms of its effect on the field? And it's pretty clear the effect of Spygate was "nothing". Nothing in the Jets game itself, with the camera taken in the 1st quarter of a 38-14 win, and nothing in the 8 wins since then when no camera was involved.

posted by hincandenza at 06:48 PM on November 07

Wayne Huizenga is doing a BLOCKBUSTER job in coping with all this trash - He's truly a trouper in WASTE MANAGEMENT . . . Couldn't resist - undefeated or feated - he's got it all . . .

posted by B-2 Spirit at 07:30 PM on November 07

I think the Patriots deserve the loss of goodwill, and their fans should accept that. Actually, I noticed that national goodwill towards the Patriots was evaporating way before spygate or whatever you want to call it. Here's a thread from last year's playoffs which saw most of the impartial SpoFites criticizing the Patriots over what I still think are extraordinarily petty transgressions. But then again, in this instance, I'm not an impartial SpoFite! I think if a team stays on top for too long, it wears out its welcome with the national audience and becomes a team everyone loves to hate... On Bob Ryan's blog today, he jokingly speculates that Shula's comments were made as a favor to Belichick, as yet more fuel for the motivational fire. "The two best things to happen to the New England Patriots this year were 1. Randy Moss and 2. Spygate. Both are gifts that keep on giving. Moss is self-explanatory. Spygate is fascinating, because it never goes away, and has provided Belichick with a built-in motivational tool. They are playing with an Ayers Rock boulder on the shoulder every week."

posted by Venicemenace at 07:31 PM on November 07

1972 Dolphins was a great team. Saw every game that year. 2007 Patriots are a great team, and in my opinion best to every play in NFL. Let's leave this cheating debate behind us-really getting weary of splitting hairs. Let's enjoy the great football this year and focus on team play and not extra ciricular activities. Shula's comments were out of line, however so are all the cheater comments. I'm as guilty as anybody for the comments and I liked to make a proposal. Let's drop the the cheating diatribe. PLEASE.

posted by brickman at 07:34 PM on November 07

Let's stop shitting all over the time honored tradition of cheating in sports. In baseball, runners on second try to steal signs from the catcher. Basketball has the flop. In hockey there is a piece on a goaltenders catching glove called a cheater. In football yelling "hut-hut" before saying hike seems like a deceptive way of tricking the D line into an offsides penalty (I admit I know very little about football so I might be way of with this one) If these sports can survive this kind of "traditional" cheating than I don't see how the more technologically advance methods of cheating (video taping, HGH, steroids, shouting HAH! while running from second to third) are going to ruin these games. I've decided I can let all this "cheating" make me view every win, milestone and broken record with skepticism or I can sit back enjoy all the sports history that has been made in my lifetime. I think for my own sanity I will go with the latter.

posted by HATER 187 at 07:35 PM on November 07

Excuse my poor typing " Unfeated"

posted by B-2 Spirit at 07:35 PM on November 07

Shouldn't it be "defeated"?

posted by Venicemenace at 07:45 PM on November 07

And I don't think we're far apart either. I was just responding to the questions you asked me. Cool.

posted by yerfatma at 07:59 PM on November 07

Thanks Fatty. It would have been even cooler if I could have pulled off pasting a photo of Ray Bolger as the "classic straw man." But, alas, I clearly lack the brains to do so.

posted by cjets at 08:36 PM on November 07

cjets, I know where you can get some brains. I'm from Kansas, don't you know. (Just please, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

posted by hawkguy at 09:25 PM on November 07

Thanks Hawkguy. Does it involve clicking my feet three times?

posted by cjets at 10:00 PM on November 07

Belichick is a pre-cognizant troll using his magical powers for evil.- This is guarenteed to be the funniest thing that I hear all day and I am glad that the troll works his magic for my team and I will continue to be grateful that my team is good enough to inspire so much hate (no one cares when you are 1-15).

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 05:44 AM on November 08

People do too hate you when you're 1-15. They hate you lots. They just hate you more locally, y'know? (I haven't watched an Eagles home game this season, but I can imagine it ain't pretty)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:47 AM on November 08

Not true. I loved Rich Kotite.

posted by yerfatma at 09:44 AM on November 08

I don't hate the Pats or Belichick, kyrilmitch. It just happens to be true. Prior to working in the NFL, Belichick lived under a bridge harrassing goats. It was there that he learned the black arts from a demonic imp named Sllecrap. After attaining his knowledge, he moved from beneath the bridge to the only logical venue from which he could hone his prescient skills. Football coaching. I mean look at him. That hoodie is one of the last remaining vestiges of his cloak of darkness. I think Gillette is associated somehow with Procter and Gamble. Maybe not.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:57 PM on November 08

I think Gillette is associated somehow with Procter and Gamble. Nice.

posted by yerfatma at 01:43 PM on November 08

I have to say THX-1138 you are funny but I have to tell you your finest work The last time I was arrested for picking up a classic double combo whilst driving with THX-1138 1/2 exposed for all to see, I kind of expected to be made fun of by my co-workers. even had my wife in hysterics.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 07:01 PM on November 08

Hello, everybody, my name is THX-1138 and I'm a quipaholic. And if you think your wife was in hysterics, imagine the poor gal in the drive-through. I mean, she didn't have to laugh, did she?

posted by THX-1138 at 08:58 PM on November 08

It's probably okay that she laughed, as long as she didn't point.

posted by tommytrump at 09:06 PM on November 08

Okay, so the Pats broke an NFL rule. The NFL has a bunch of silly rules. (See the other thread about stupid fines.) In baseball, stealing the other team's signs is considered part of the game; almost an art form. So teams change their signs! And the players are smart enough to keep up with the changes. The Pats weren't accused of using stolen signs within a game; but for using those stolen signs in the teams' rematches. With all the cameras that show up at an NFL game, it's astounding that everyone in the stadium isn't aware of the "secret" signs coaches send in from the sidelines. I mean, they're on the other side of the field waving their arms like mad men. And there's an NFL rule against seeing them?! The '72 Dolphins caught lightning in a bottle. The luck of the schedule, their opponents down or injured, luck... Whatever, they did something no NFL team had done or has done since. They avoided critical injuries, they won games when they didn't have to. Everything worked out for them. I dunno if the 2007 Patriots can catch all the breaks the '72 Fins caught. Would it make sense to play Tom Brady late in the season, with a 14-0 or 15-0 record, in a game that is meaningless as far as playoff seedings are involved? Isn't the goal of the game to win a championship? Other records along the way are mere gravy. If New England does get to 14-0, they should bring Earl Morrell out of retirement and see if he could lead them to a perfect season.

posted by Monkeyhawk at 01:32 AM on November 09

I've always thought that football is just a metaphor for war and what is a war without spies? I mean what general wouldn't try to crack the enemy's code to try and gain an advantage? I remember Phil Jackson talking about "gamesmanship" in the NBA, like opposing players hiding needles in their shorts so that they could let the air out of the over-inflated balls in Laker games because Magic liked the balls to bounce high on his dribble. Like the Detroit Bad Boys, who won primarily by shutting their opponent down on defense, installing a basket that "wasn't right" in their arena which opponents would have to shoot at in the 4th quarter; things of this nature. PJ himself is reportedly a lip reader and would try to "steal" what the opposing coach was saying during timeouts. I'll bet just about anything that all successful NFL franchises are willing to bend and break the rules to win games.

posted by sic at 01:30 PM on November 09

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