The National Football League announced today that, among several other rule changes to be incorporated into the 2015 season, a new law will be in place that prohibits the New England Patriots from winning games going forward.
Initial complaints began as early as 2001, when coaches league-wide were left baffled over how a group of relative unknowns with little star power were not only able to win a Super Bowl, but launch a string of success that has never before been seen in the NFL, a string particularly unprecedented given the installment of a salary cap. Since then, there has been a steady pattern of offseason talks and proposals that have revolved around the Patriots finding an innovative way to exploit the rules while remaining 100% within the boundaries of legality. Other coaches, unable to fully grasp the dubious language in the 200+ page rulebook and without the ability to effectively exploit the rules to their best ability, have consistently campaigned to get various rules altered so as to eliminate any advantage the Patriots might be able to gain through superior coaching, effective personnel groupings, and a better overall understanding of the game.
Whereas in the past the NFL would seek to ban various behaviors individually based upon the complaints of the coaches who had just fallen victim to them, this year executives in the league front office have decided to try and nip what has become a yearly discussion and source of conflict in the bud and have thus issued a decree that the Patriots are simply no longer allowed to win games.
Under this new rule, if New England does anything that could be considered "in aggressive pursuit of victory over an opponent in a manner which can be deemed as displaying superior intelligence, knowledge, or understanding of the game," then the rest of the league has the right to immediately demand forfeiture and claim victory, regardless of the final score. The hope is that enforcing such a rule will limit further coaches being unhappy with the methods in which Bill Belichick consistently and unapologetically demonstrates that he is the best coach in the league.
"I'm *$#@ing sick of that guy," one coach who, for the sake of anonymity and to avoid potential backlash wished to be identified by the moniker Hon Jarbaugh, said in a recent interview. "I never even dreamed of coming up with the kind of schemes he does. So it has to be illegal, right? I'm just glad the league finally cracked down and we can all have a level playing field going forward. When the integrity of the game is at stake, then someone really has to draw the line." When asked to expound further upon his comments, Jarbaugh informed reporters that he had to go, as he was being called as a witness for the defense in an ongoing murder trial.
It will be interesting to see how Belichick and the Patriots respond going forward. 2015 promises to be his greatest test as a coach yet, as he now has to operate under a system of league rules which clearly state that a New England victory is illegal. Early reports have hinted that Belichick is currently instituting an entirely new playbook that revolves solely around Rob Gronkowski, as he may have found a loophole in the wording of the phrase "superior intelligence," but those reports are unconfirmed. We'll have to continue to monitor the situation as the rest of the offseason plays out.