Some of us have expressed concern that we open the new season against the Patriots, a team we haven't played since 2006. Got that? 2006.
Naturally MCM is on the case and our agents have infiltrated the Pats HQ. This is their report.
Not fooled, we slip by this first line of defense (who has in any case lost interest in us and is now being interviewed by Peter King) and penetrate further into the building. As we do, we enter the Trophy Room. Here we find the cabinet where the pedestals for Superbowl trophies XLII and XLVI, purchased in hope and optimism, stand forlornly empty. Gathering dust against the opposite wall are two large dumpsters containing thousands of badges and hats emblazoned with "Perfect Pats" and "19-0!". There’s even a prototype beach towel that reads “F@*# the 72 Dolphins”. It is a sad, depressing place. Suddenly feeling much better, we move on.
Following the signs to the meeting room is a bad idea. True to the Patriot tradition of misdirection they are designed to lead the unwary to an elaborate system of trap doors and unmarked, one- way, exits. Several of them are written in Klingon. Cautiously navigating the hall of one, two and three way mirrors we reach a door. The sign on the door says “Plutonium Storage”.
The meeting room itself is a bit of a disappointment. There is no sign on the lintel saying “abandon hope ye who enter here”, no gouts of flame, not even the tiniest lake of fire. At the front of the room, seated upon a normal chair that in no way resembles a throne of skulls is the real Bill Belichick. You can’t shake the feeling that he should be stroking a large, white cat. But he isn't. None if this is to suggest that BB doesn’t have a pact with the Devil. He does. Or rather, he did. Satan had his attorneys (of which he has a great many on retainer) get him out of it on the grounds that BB had duped him into a one- sided and unethical deal. The deal ended Feb 2nd 2008 Go figure.
There are two features of the room that seem unusual. Firstly the Film Room is in fact a multiplex. This is inevitable given the huge number of video feeds the Pats process on a daily basis. The second is the Brady Zone where scantily clad young women adoringly fan him with Ostrich feathers and peel his grapes (read what you like into that). Giselle knows nothing of this, a fact that may become useful one day.
Oblivious to our presence, BB is talking to the #2 man at the Patriots. He’s not the Offense Coordinator nor is he the Defensive Coordinator. He’s not a coach, scout nor even a Front Office guru. No one knows his name. He is the head of Patriots Covert Operations.
BB- Number 2, report on “Operation Snoot”
#2- “Operation Snoot” is going well, Master. Our agents have successfully inserted spy cameras into the noses of every head coach and coordinator we face this regular season. We can read the playbooks in real time and the “Sneezemaker(TM)” technology incorporated into the Mark 2 has solved the “Green Screen” problem. The Mark 3 with optional hair clipper is ready for testing. We have failed in only one instance. The Titans.
BB- What happened?
#2- We are not entirely sure Master, but we did receive a bag of charcoal postmarked Nashville.
BB- Are they inviting us to a barbeque?
#2- No, Master. On closer inspection it turned out to be the remains of our agent. He appeared to have been struck by lightning.
BB- Which agent?
#2- 86, Master
BB- I had a feeling that might end badly. No matter, I was going to cut him anyway. What about our “Eyes in the Sky”?
#2- We have successfully maneuvered spy satellites over every stadium and practice ground in the league as you can see now the feed to our multiplex is live
BB- I count only 30 teams #2. One screen is nothing but grey
#2- Yes, Master. For some reason the Titans facilities become obscured by storm clouds the moment our satellite is activated. We are working on it. We are also mystified by the Hammer shaped object in the centre of the screen.
BB- This is not encouraging #2. What of our new uniforms?
#2- The stealth cloak technology is not yet perfected Master. We thought we had managed to make Woodhead invisible but it turned out he was standing behind the Gatorade bucket. Taking the snap from an invisible Center has also proven to present some unforeseen difficulties. Our sexual harassment attorneys are working on it.
BB- Work harder #2, remember what happened to your predecessor (looks meaningfully at picture of great white shark on the wall). Dismissed! Time for the team meeting. Are we all here? Where’s Gronk?
There is an almighty crash as Gronk misses the doorway and punches his way straight through the wall. Great hands, great strength, lousy route runner.
BB- Right, let’s... What’s that rumbling? Did somebody forget to feed Wilfork? Welker! Go get a linebacker from the practice squad.
Welker leaves the room. Deceptively quickly.
BB- Right, as soon as Wes is back we’ll....
Welker returns to the room with a roasted leg of linebacker. He really is deceptively fast.
BB- Team, it’s going to be a long offseason. I want you to know that I share your pain- particularly at this time of year when I can’t make wholesale cuts. You should also know that the entire coaching staff is committed to gaining as much unfair advantage as possible in the weeks ahead. We have made changes to our organizational structure so that Lying, Cheating and Stealing all have department heads reporting directly to me. No expense is being spared in Covert Ops. The CIA is complaining that we are driving up the costs of surveillance equipment but we remain committed. Nothing is too sly, sneaky or underhanded.
BB- On the football side, you may have noticed some changes in our draft strategy this year when we actually got some new players. Of course, this leaves us with only 45 picks next year but we can always trade away veterans to fix that. I want you to feel excited about the prospects of being arbitrarily cut to make way for a complete unknown or a 2017 5th rounder. Not every team does that. It’s the truest measure of how committed I am to you as players and as members of the Patriot family. We were so close! One more epic cheat and our Dynasty will live forever! Remember, it’s the Patriot Way!
A rousing cheer goes up from all the players except Wilfork whose mouth is full.
BB- Good. Now, let’s get back to faking up the week 6 injury report. Who wants to spend 5 days pretending to limp?
Spy’s Notes on the IR
The Patriots’ Injury Report is the only one filed at NFL HQ and the Library of Congress under “Fiction”. A team of PR specialists or “liars” prepares the final report based on the Master Cheating Plan. Outside of player personnel this is the one position in the entire organization with the highest risk of injury. Several staffers have cracked ribs laughing at the absurdity of what they produce. The basic concept is simple enough. Either massively understate a genuine injury or fabricate a totally bogus one (always to Brady) to distract attention and upset the opponent’s game planning. This means any entry on the Pats IR can have at least 2 interpretations. See below:
Probable: EITHER the player has only two working limbs (one of which should be a leg) OR Brady has lost his chinstrap.
Questionable: EITHER the player is on life support and requires physical attachment to a medical device weighing at least 500 pounds to maintain life processes OR Brady’s Mani-Pedi is looking a bit rough.
Doubtful: EITHER the player is dead OR Brady has had a fight with Giselle and is feeling sad.
Out: This has never appeared on a Pats IR.