Fine Margins

Did an ESPN SkyCam wire irrevocably alter the future of the New England Patriots? Some are saying yes

October 26, 2022

On Monday night in foggy Foxborough, the New England Patriots suffered arguably their worst loss of the post-Brady era, falling 33-14 to a Bears team that can charitably be described as pedestrian. Making matters worse, erstwhile franchise QB Mac Jones was benched in the second quarter of his return from a high ankle sprain after going three for six with a truly fugly INT, opening the door for Bailey Zappe to lead two quick (though ultimately meaningless) touchdown drives. The early hook ignited a quarterback controversy that Belichick and co. and haven’t seen since the Drew Bledsoe days, but it might not have been Mac Jones’ fault. At least not entirely.

On Tuesday, eagle-eyed internet sleuths released grainy, JFK-assasination-style footage that appeared to show Jones’ lame duck interception glance an ESPN SkyCam wire, changing trajectory and rotation ever so slightly before wobbling into the hands of Bears safety Jaquan Brisker. Grab those magnifying glasses and black lights and check it out.

Did the wire make the crucial difference on what soon became a critical play? Did it change not only the trajectory of the ball and Jones' career, but the arc of the entire New England Patriots franchise? Previously, this was the kind of thing that could only happen to the Cleveland Browns. Are the Patriots the new Browns? Big questions without answers, but while life and football are full of unknowns, one thing is certain:

The first reporter to ask Belichick about WireGate leaves in a body bag.