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Belichick fined $500,000, Pats lose picks

The NFL has rendered its verdict in Spygate. From AP:

New England coach Bill Belichick was fined the NFL maximum of $500,000 Thursday and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for spying on an opponent's defensive signals.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also ordered the team to give up its own first-round draft choice next year if it reaches the playoffs, and second- and third-round picks if it doesn't. If the Patriots lose their first-round selection next season, they still will have a first-round pick, obtained from San Francisco in the deal that brought Randy Moss from Oakland.

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

Goodell said he had considered suspending Belichick but didn't "largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first-round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long-lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension."

My reaction: They still should have suspended Belichick for one or two games in addition to the fine and draft picks. All in all, he got off lightly; if for some reason he is not the Pats' coach in 2008 (his contract status is unclear), why should he care about draft picks? The Pats have two No. 1s next year and still get to keep the one they got from San Francisco.

Moral: Smoke pot as a player? Suspension. Violate a competitive integrity rule as a coach? Feel free to stay on the sidelines. --Jim Buzinski