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Antonio Smith's silly Patriots spying claim nothing more than a joke

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

Everyone likes a good conspiracy theory, especially when an NFL player rattles off the words "suspicious", "spying" and "Bill Belichick" in an accusatory fashion. Certainly Houston Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith knew all of that when, through a smile, he lobbed the loaded charge that the New England Patriots were up to something nefarious last week which allowed them to adjust in the second half of their game against the Texans on Sunday. Houston led by 10 points at the break but wound up losing 34-31.

Smith knew America couldn't help itself, and this was sure to become a big headline and discussion point and the charge will stick with some no matter how dumb it is. That's how the world works these days. This is an accusation that makes zero sense and worked only because many fans dislike and distrust Belichick. The NFL famously fined the Patriots coach half a million dollars for "spying" on the New York Jets back in 2007.

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Ben Tate (scored two first-half TDs as Houston took a 17-7 halftime lead. (AP)

That one had videotape and testimony, and even if many within the Patriots' organization believe the league blew the entire thing out of proportion, it was a legitimate story.

This is just nonsense and almost assuredly was just a joke from a guy who likes to refer to himself – and even occasionally dresses the part – as " 'Tonestradamus" the "Oracle of the Houston Texans."

Wait, " 'Tonestradamus"?

" 'Tonestradamus is an elevation of a mental mind state that I have reached a upper level almost reaching a sublime glow," Smith explained while dressed in full garb during an episode of "On the Nose with Shaun Cody" on the Texans' website. "And I transform at that moment my level of nin-jit-su [to] became a grand master. I started to see in the future and to predict current events."

He also refers to himself as the "Ninja Assassin." There's even a touchdown dance. He's clearly a funny guy.

So laugh at the performance or appreciate the raw trolling, but Belichick – no matter how little sympathy many have for him – doesn't deserve this to be considered anything real.

"I don't have any comment on [it]," Belichick told reporters Monday.

[Brady's response: "Truthfully, we just played a little bit better in the second half"]

There is literally nothing to this story except that it somehow became a story.

A man with the alter ego of 'Tonestradamus said he couldn't understand how the Pats adjusted at the half and seemingly knew how to counter the Texans' newly installed defensive system.

"I'm very suspicious," Smith told reporters Sunday. "I just think it will be a big coincidence if that just happened by chance. I don't know for sure, but I just know it was something that we practiced this week. I can't tell you an example because it's G15 classified.

"… Either teams are spying on us or scouting, I don't know what it is, man, because we had some ways we were going to play this week that just got put in this week and it was just miraculous that they changed up some things they did on offense that keyed on what we put in this week to stop what they were doing …

"You have to be a descendant of ' 'Tonestradamus' to know what we put in this week and to be able to then go change that fast. I got the only crystal ball in existence. I don't know what it is."

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Forget that it might be that a 9-3 team just got its act together in the second half and defeated a team now on a 10-game losing streak. If it takes cheating to beat the Texans, then truly everyone in the league is doing it.

Or it could be the latter part of the "spying on us or scouting" theory. Who knows what the Texans are doing this season, but "scouting" is kind of what NFL coaching staffs tend to do. Wasn't the inclusion of "scouting" the punch line here that should've clued people in?

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Tom Brady eludes Antonio Smith Sunday. (AP)

Or it could just be a no-brainer halftime adjustment, which is also what coaching staffs do. They even watch replays and take still pictures during the first half to assist in this "miraculous" process. Or maybe the Texans' new game plan was lousy. Or maybe it's that the Patriots have Tom Brady. And Rob Gronkowski. Or maybe ...

Why am I bothering arguing about this?

The best part is that 'Tonestradamus sort of implies that the Texans' secret system was too complicated – or subtle – to be picked up from those routine halftime adjustments gleaned from watching first-half action.

If true, then it would require the Patriots to have somehow infiltrated (and maybe even bugged) the Texans' facility this week where they then learned about it during practices and meetings. That's some high-level CIA level espionage there. You'd have to actually tip your hat to New England for pulling that off – talk about Ninja Assassins.

Of course, that requires the assumption that Belichick went through the trouble of plotting and executing such a mission at the risk of being fired, fined and even imprisoned – all to assist in beating the worst team in the league, mind you – and then didn't even use the information in the first half.

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'Tonestradamus is funny. And this was his best joke.

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