Ethics in Sports: Will The Real Patriots Please Stand Up?

05/25/2011 12:25 pm ET

Grandma -- a.k.a. Phil Simms of the New York Giants -- in his role as TV sports commentator a few weeks ago offered these principles in explanation of why he saw no problem with the Patriots' taping the signals of the Jets:

1. There is no specific rule against it (my query: if the lawyers say it is ok, it must be ethical, ok and a good example to set?)
2. Everybody does it (my query: does that make it ok or necessary?)
3. It isn't very effective anyway (no query is needed with this logic)

Is that the ethical standard Simms expects of the millions of kids who view NFL players and coaches as role models and aspire to be like them?

Well, Simms isn't alone: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell goes even further. Asked why he had destroyed the tapes of the investigation into the spying, Goodell said:

1. This practice is not uncommon
2. There is no indication the taping benefited the Patriots
3. The tapes were consistent with what the Patriots told me (query: what is the value of transparency in an investigation by the league?)

Goodell thinks destroying the tapes "sent a message." I do, too, but it is a different message:

1. If you are in charge, you can do whatever you want.
2. There is no need for "transparency" in business, including a monopoly exempt from taxation.

Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, said he was concerned only about the perception that the league was trying to hide something by destroying the tapes.

Are we not concerned with whether we can trust the League's investigation into anything (think drugs, domestic abuse, whatever)? The values and beliefs of this club of owners and regulators cries out for an independent auditor.

Is this what we expect from CEOs, candidates for the presidency of the U.S.?

It is true that Belechik and the team were fined for the taping. But consider: the Patriots are such a great team; did they really need the taint? I hope people think twice before copying their behavior.

This blog was written before the SuperBowl began. The outcome will not change my view.