When the National Football League front office decided to clamp down on those coaches who try to get that little edge on the other teams, they didn’t go after the hapless Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers, but instead went right after the New England Patriots’ genius coach Bill Belichick to make its statement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell caught the Patriots red-handed taping the signals of the New York Jets in the 2007 season opener in early September and now refers to the incident as Spygate.

After the tapes were confiscated as a result of Spygate, Belichick received a fine of $500,000 from the commissioner’s office, the Patriots were fined severely and New England had to forfeit its first-round draft choice in next month’s NFL draft.

And as if Congress doesn’t have enough to do, Sen., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., met with Goodell to express his displeasure at disclosures that the Patriots spying may have gone back as far as 2000.

Goodell is urging tougher action on teams and employees that would include unannounced inspections of locker rooms and coaches’ areas in press boxes and a lower standard of proof for imposing discipline on those who violate rules, according to Friday’s edition of The Washington Post. Loss of draft choices would be possible punishment.

The changes, first disclosed in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, were sent to the league’s rule-making competition committee, which will make recommendations to the owners at the league meeting that begins March 30 in Palm Beach, Fla.

“I think there are a number of steps that should be taken in advance of the start of the 2008 season to improve and strengthen the enforcement procedures designed to preserve the competitive integrity of the game,” Goodell wrote in the memo.

Competition committee members also suggested last weekend that the memo is less about Spygate than it is about finding a way to keep up with advances in technology.
“When we met with the commissioner, the discussion was how we proceed in an era when technology is expanding exponentially,” Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian pointed out. “The question is how do we keep on top of that? This is far less about what happened in the past and how we deal with it in the future.”

Among other things, The Washington Post article points out, Goodell wants fewer constraints on him in punishing violators. “Too often,” Goodell wrote, “competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking.

“I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established. And where a violation is shown, I intend to impose more stringent penalties on both the club and the responsible individuals.

“I also will be prepared to make greater use of draft choice forfeiture in appropriate cases. I believe this will have the effect of deterring violations and making people more willing to report violations on a timely basis,” Goodell concluded.

Enforcement would include spot checks of team offices, including locker rooms, coaches’ booths and in-stadium communication systems and equipment as well as “enhanced monitoring of team practices.”

Goodell added, “Many of these checks will be virtually unannounced and clubs would be expected fully to cooperate with this effort.”
A matter that came up at last year’s meeting but was not approved is the use of radios in the helmets of defensive players as well as the quarterback to receive information and signals from the sidelines. Goodell supports this idea and will bring it up again at the March 30 meeting in Palm Beach .

It appears to this Korner that Goodell was making an example out of Belichick and the New England Patriots, implying that just maybe the team’s “spying” on opponents gave them an edge which led to those three recent World Championships.

We say that’s a bunch of bull and that those championship rings came about not by spying on opponents, but from blocking and tackling better than the other 31 teams in the league. And if you think the Patriots were the only NFL team “spying” on opponents, then we’ve got some land to sell you in Karo Springs.

KWICKIES…The honors continue to roll in for Orangefield’s Kaylin Little, who was recently selected to the Texas High School Girls Coaching Association All State girls basketball team. Miss Little had an outstanding season for the Lady Bobcats, averaging 25 points per game and also being named the All-District 21-3A Offensive Most Valuable Player. She led her Lady Bobcats team to a 13-1 District 21-3A record and a 23-11 overall mark.

The Texas Longhorn men’s basketball team earned a share of the Big 12 title with the Kansas Jayhawks after nipping Oklahoma State 62-57 Sunday in Austin . The victory clinched a No. l seed for the Longhorns (20-5, 13-3) in the upcoming Big 12 conference tournament later this week.

The Phoenix Suns snapped San Antonio’s 11-game winning streak with a 94-87 victory Sunday behind the 14 points and 16 rebounds from 36-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, who was traded to the Suns a couple of weeks ago. The Houston Rockets tried to extend their victory skein to a league-record 19 Monday night against the New Jersey Nets at the Toyota Center in Houston .

Former Little Cypress-Mauriceville ace pitcher Cody Trahan upped her record to 6-1 at LSU by blanking the University of Georgia 1-0 last weekend.

Houston Astros’ manager Cecil Cooper has not been sleeping too well lately as the first cutdown date approaches. Cooper likes all of his players and will hate the job of paring down the team roster by sending some major league hopefuls back down to the minor league training camp.

JUST BETWEEN US…We got to see something last weekend we’ve never seen before–except maybe watching Tiger Woods on the Pro Tour– while playing in a two-man best-ball tournament with partner Craig Couvillion at Bayou Din Golf Course in conjunction with the Nederland Heritage Festival. Craig boomed his drive on the 454-yard Par 5 No. 13 hole against a 10-15 mph North wind and smashed his second shot to within five feet of the flag and drained the putt for an Eagle 3. Then on the Par 4 No. 16 hole, which is 274 yards with a dogleg to the left and also against the wind, Craig drew his tee shot, landing it just off the green. He chipped it in for an Eagle 2. That’s two eagles on the same nine holes. We were playing against fellow Sunset Grove golfers Randy Harrison and David Benoit. Our team score for the day was 72 and strangely enough in Sunday’s two-man scramble format against a 20-plus mph South win, we shot 73.