Touching All The Bases’ Chad Finn acknowledges the Hooded Casanova’s poor judgement (“Belichick was astoundingly arrogant in thinking he could get away with this after having been warned about it previously – and he was flat-out stupid in thinking he could get away with it against Eric Mangini, the disowned, desperate former protege who simply must have been well aware of Belichick’s tactics,”) but not without wondering if the Patriots coach is alone amongst his peers in employing such dirty tricks.

While the outcry seems so phony, the fallout is real. I hate that there is now talk about tainted Super Bowl victories and a tarnished dynasty, and I hate that every Hines Ward or Jack Del Rio who has gotten his pride handed to him by the Patriots through the years now has a ready-made excuse for their failure. We wuz cheated! In that sense, Belichick truly let his players down; for now and the foreseeable future, everything they accomplish will be questioned by the skeptics, cynics, and the 142 members of the Football Night in America studio crew. The Patriots are no longer associated with selflessness and teamwork, but with something more dubious: The Patriots? Oh, they’re the cheaters.

Of course, in a warped sort of way, this is going to benefit them immensely on Sundays; now they can revert to their US Against Them/No Respect mentality, which served them so well during the Super Bowl seasons even it was patently ridiculous. They are going to be even more vicious and vengeful than usual, particularly when the Jets come to Foxboro Dec. 16. I fully expect that at some point Rodney Harrison will pummel Chad Pennington with one of his own severed limbs. Looking forward to it, actually. I expect Jets fans will cheer.

Still, there is one question that hasn’t been answered to my satisfaction: How common is this tactic in the NFL? That jackbooted idiot Chris Mortensen – who is wrong about everything – can close his ESPN report by suggesting a man of Tony Dungy’s integrity would never do such a thing, but dammit, tell me who might. You know there are others. You’re telling me Mike Shanahan – who admitted to stealing signals years ago, was punished for manipulating the salary cap, and teaches his linemen to utilize the reprehensible chop block – hasn’t tried this? What about Jeff Fisher? Mike Holmgren? Brian Billick? Tom Coughlin? Even Herm Edwards might attempt it, if only he could figure out how to get the danged lens cap off.