What do Bob Ryan and Frank Deford have in common? Aside from being icons in their chosen field? They have both concluded —- though one several months before the other — the Hooded Casanova’s ethical lapses are deserving of comparison to that other great football mind, Richard M. Nixon.

What we have here is a football version of Watergate.

Bill Belichick is Richard Nixon. Brilliant. Tormented. Paranoid. Controlling. Highly suspicious of the media.

Watergate was overkill. There was no need for it. Like, was Richard Nixon ever really in danger of losing the 1972 election to George McGovern? Spygate was likewise unnecessary. Belichick was, and is, a great football coach. Why did he not trust his own genius to win games honestly, especially after winning his first Super Bowl? Was he that obsessed with victory? Weren’t all those hours staring at tapes enough? Did he think he had a divine right to victory? Clearly, something was churning inside that head.

Remember the ultimate moral of Watergate: The cover-up is worse than the crime.Bob Ryan, Boston Globe, January 18, 2008

Belichick is most analogous to Richard Nixon. Both men were so smart, yet so uncomfortable. Both could never accept the success they carved out for themselves. Perhaps, even after three Super Bowls, Belichick never feels that he deserves to be in the best company, for he himself was no good as a player.

And for both, all so pointless. Everything else aside about Watergate, it wasn’t necessary. Nixon was a lock to win the next election ” and he did, taking 49 states. What intelligence could he possibly steal from the Democrats? Belichick’s Patriots are better than ever. What could possibly be gained by stealing signals from some hopelessly outmanned opponent?

Commissioner Roger Goodell could have punished Belichick even more harshly than he chose to. But, then, why bother? The shame that Bill Belichick suffers is worse than any penalty. He cheated the game of football, tarnishing the one thing he seems to care for. His genius and his victories alike will forever be suspect. At least Nixon always had China.Frank Deford, NPR, September 19, 2007