As the sports world knows – and the rest of the inhabited world will learn over the coming weeks – the New England Patriots are undefeated and potential unstoppable. They may become the first team in the National Football League to go undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots are also the team that was penalized earlier this year for cheating.
Into this steps Don Shula, legendary coach of those 1972 Dolphins.
Don Shula likes the Patriots’ chances of going undefeated, but the Bill Belichick-inspired spying scandal has clouded Shula’s thinking when comparing New England with his unbeaten 1972 Dolphins team.
“The Spygate thing has diminished what they’ve accomplished,” Shula said in an interview with the New York Daily News. “You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They’ve got it.”
Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick for videotaping the Jets’ opposing sideline during the teams’ season-opening game.
“That tells you the seriousness or significance of what they found,” Shula said, according to the Daily News. “I guess you got the same thing as putting an asterisk by Barry Bonds’ home run record.
Shula is right. No matter what the Patriots achieve this year there must be an * next to it. They are cheaters. This is not a subjective statement. It is objective, proven truth. Did they need to cheat to win? It certainly doesn’t seem that way. That doesn’t matter. They are cheaters. Do other teams do what they did? Maybe. That doesn’t matter. They are cheaters.