Before summer turns to fall, the "Summer of Scandal" needs to fit one more in. It's the NFL's turn again. And it's not good. In fact, out of all the scandals that we've seen, this could be the very worst. Yes, it could be that bad.
Right now, ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reportingthat the league concluded that the Patriots were definitely stealing the Jets signals and recording them. But this could be part of a developing story. There's also a question about radio frequencies and Pro Football Talk has the strangest rumor:
"The Patriots put microphones on their defensive lineman in order to capture the offensive line calls and quarterback audibles. Then, the audio and the video of the game would be matched up, and defensive players would be given the code at halftime."
The Boston Herald says the Jets taping was at least the fourth time the Patriots did it in the last year, but it was the first time the league got their hands on the video tapes. Like all these stories, it's all going to depend on the intricate details. If we assume the worst, then the NFL will be suffering a whole lot more than with Michael Vick and the dogs.
Here's what happened in the worst case scenario. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick--a Wesleyan economics major who never played football--schemed an entire plan of technological espionage. It ranged from the video taping, to wiring to messing with frequencies. It was a game behind a game that enabled the Patriots to win three Super Bowls.
If that's the case, it just got much harder for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
You see, when a player takes steroids or HGH, that player does it without the knowledge of the team. When a referee bets on games and influences outcomes, the league's only fault is that it didn't catch him, not that it was a participant in the action. When a player on his personal time chooses to fight pitbulls, the league can't be held responsible and fans know that.
But if officials of the league's best team engage in an intricate game of cheating, that's as bad as it gets. Pats officials will get to explain themselves, but it doesn't look particularly good at least on the video taping front. The Packers, Lions and Bills reportedly observed the team doing the exact same thing, ruling out the possibility that it was some rogue video assistant who was doing this on his own.
Now, we'll have to ask all the unfortunate questions. Should the Pats have to forfeit the win against the Jets? Is Tom Brady that good or did he have advantages against opposing defenses that others didn't have? Are the Patriots, who have won three of the last six Super Bowls, really legit?
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com