Paranoia Sets In For Colts?

Is Peyton Manning afraid of being overheard in the visitor's locker room at Gillette Stadium? That's what Peter king wrote in a recent column. The article revives thoughts of a more serious issue of league rule violations.

Are the Colts Paranoid?

Sports Illustrated's Peter King opined in his weekly column that the Indianapolis Colts are concerned about being alone in the visitor's locker room at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Supposedly the Colts are so concerned about the issue that they hold meetings in the hallway in order to keep them private.

In his Game Plan piece, King writes:

"I've always heard, reliably, that the Colts never trusted that they were totally alone in the Colts' locker room in Foxboro, and that when Manning had something of strategic significance to say to offensive coordinator Tom Moore, they both stepped outside into the concourse outside the locker room. So if you're outside the locker room Sunday, don't be surprised to see Manning and his first-year coordinator, Christensen, huddling for a few minutes."

A heightened sense of cautiousness is a good thing. But come on now, the Patriots are bugging the visitor's locker room? Isn't that bordering on Paranoia?

Certainly there have been reports of teams trying to gain an advantage any way they can, within the concept of the rulebook. The Patriots were called out for taking that definition to a level considered unacceptable by the league in 2007 when the NFL punished them for taping signals during a Jets game.

But if the Patriots were really bugging the visitor's locker room, don't you think that would have some out from the Jets, who travel to Gillette Stadium every year? After all, former Jets coach, and former New England coordinator, Eic Mangini was reportedly the one pointing fingers in the NFL's investigation of New England's videotaping debacle, which happened to take place at the Meadowlands.

Even our esteemed colleague Dan Leberfeld (who broke the videotaping story) doesn't consider the idea of eavesdropping by the Patriots a plausible one.

I don't believe that it's true," Leberfeld wrote via email last night. "I think it's just paranoia."

We tend to concur with Leberfeld's assumption.

Inquiries to the league office were not immediately returned. But we're told by an NFL insider that the story does not merit an official statement, on the grounds that no official complaint was made.

Still, making the same mistake twice isn't something Bill Belichick is going to do.

After the Patriots were found to be in violation of league rules from the Jets complaint of videotaping signals, the punishment was immediate and decisive. Commissioner Roger Goodell left no doubt that a future violation would bring harsher punishment.

New England head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for the incident, and the team was fined another $250,000. In addition the team was ordered to forfeit their first round pick the following season should they make the playoffs – they did, going undefeated in the regular season.

"This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field," Goodell said in a letter to the Patriots.

Goodell spoke on nearly every major media outlet to describe the punishment as the harshest in NFL history. He also said if there was more to the story he reserved the right to revisit the punishment.

As some of our colleagues have mentioned, this is more of a case about paranoia than any real cause for a complaint about eavesdropping. If the Colts were seriously worried about the situation they could lean on one of the many security experts employed by clubs who are familiar with this type of security breach. Certainly the league is available to monitor the situation.

Chalk this one up to one team being in another's head.

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