Optics-wise, it doesn't bode well, no matter what the NFL Commissioner's penalty is.

Can you hear this now, emanating from some dining room tables from Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and northern New Jersey?

“The New England Patriots cheated. Period. End of story. Fine them. Suspend [Bill] Belichick for a year. Take away five first round picks. Destroy them … And pass the butter, please.”

And as we know these days, optics is way, way, way, way more important than facts, the truth or research.

That’s why we have CNN and Fox News in 2019. Optics sells.

Let’s take optics out of the equation for now and state a fact:

Being a Patriots fan is tough enough and this newest incident, aka Spygate 2.0, is like another rash.

Of course, it’s silly, right? Bill Belichick wouldn’t be that “evil” or dumb to try and gain an advantage by stealing signs from Bengals coaches. Right?

I mean, it’s the Bengals.

Don’t sell Belichick short, is the message. He’s Mr. Gain An Advantage, which is why his good friend Ernie Adams is around.

The Jay Glazer video he got, as breaking news, from the Bengals scout showed the Patriots camera guy being asked about the footage he was shooting at Cleveland last weekend and why the camera was pointed toward the field.

The camera guy fumbled his words, which of course was extemely bad optics. Then, the Bengals security guy, as smug as ever, said, “The damage is done, my friend.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said there is going to be an investigation and it will be as swift possible.

NFL security will be checking to see if the Patriots pulled this “stunt” in other stadiums, sending cameras, behind the cover of Kraft Productions and its “Do Your Job” series.

They may look at phone records, too.

It’ll be a simple investigation, looking at the camera to see if it is focused on the signs from the sidelines and clock.

Open and shut.

Unlike other Patriots “scandals,” i.e. Spygate 1.0, Deflategate, etc., the franchise was out in front on this one, admitting it broke a rule about filming other teams’ sidelines.

Whatever.

As the security guard said, damage done.

Commissioner Goodell has only two options.

Belichick and Patriots football operations not only broke a rule, but cheated.

Or, Kraft Productions did something that was very stupid.

There is no in-between.

Heavy fines, suspensions (Belichick) and loss of draft picks or a heavy fine.

The court of public opinion, including massive bias, has already decided this, even if the evidence is nowhere to be found. The Patriots “cheated.”

Nobody said it was easy being a Patriots fan.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@newburyportnews.com.

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