Denver Broncos fans are a little touchy when it comes to the New England Patriots. A great deal of that stems from a shared history. A shared history that includes one particular coach and one particular scandal that embarrassed the Broncos organization and its fans greatly. Right now Broncos fans feel that, once again, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has once again been shown a favoritism above all others in the league.
First, let's discuss that history. When the Denver Broncos were looking for a new head coach in 2009 after they fired longtime coach Mike Shanahan, owner Pat Bowlen went for the young, hotshot offensive coordinator from New England. Josh McDaniels was supposed to be the next great young mind in the NFL. Instead, McDaniels showed his huge ego and enormous lack of experience by alienating a variety of players on the team and traded away the likes of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Peyton Hillis.
Along with the fact that his teams just weren't that good, McDaniels eventually was fired from the Broncos after thoroughly embarrassing the organization and its owner by orchestrating the spying on an opposing team's pre-game walkthrough via video. This was something that he had experience with at New England, home of the infamous Spygate episode that tarnished the NFL and that organization. For McDaniels to bring those underhanded ways here to Denver really angered the fans. Bowlen, thoroughly outraged, couldn't fire McDaniels fast enough.
By the end of the following year, 2011, McDaniels was back with the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator and helped to defeat the Broncos in the playoffs. His mentor, Bill Belichick, was only too happy to bring him back into the fold. The same Belichick who obviously taught McDaniels that spying on another team via video was obviously acceptable and expected. When Belichick was caught in 2007 by the NFL for the same offense, what was his punishment? A $500,000 personal fine. He was never suspended.
Many non-Patriots football fans were bitter that Belichick was never punished more severely. Belichick makes an estimated $7.5 million a year, and that fine never really hurt him. Because he never had to miss a game, fans felt that the NFL favored Belichick, one of its coaching elite. That feeling was reinforced on Wednesday when Belichick was fined $50,000 for grabbing a referee on Sunday night at the end of the Patriots-Baltimore Ravens game.
Broncos fans, especially, wonder why their own head coach, John Fox, was fined $30,000 for simply verbally abusing the replacement referees during their Week 2 game against the Atlanta Falcons. It seems disparate that Belichick would only be fined $50,000 when his offense was so much greater. You do not touch referees. Everyone knows that. Regardless of the reason behind why he did it, the NFL should have made an example out of Belichick but they chose to go lightly on him.
Perhaps this was a signal by the NFL that they felt Belichick's frustration with the replacement officials was justified. I believe that it's more likely that it was simply a bit of favoritism towards a coach and a franchise that is highly esteemed and a favorite of those at the top in the NFL. Denver Broncos fans have believed this for a long time, and this week's fines handed down was just another example of that favoritism.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong football fan, she started following the Broncos upon moving to Denver in 2001.
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