SBD/Issue 163/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Spygate Saga Seemingly Coming To End; Boston Herald Apologizes

Goodell Finds No Evidence Of Patriots Taping
Rams'  Walk-Through Prior To Super Bowl XXXVI
The Patriots “videotaping saga that began eight months ago ... might finally have reached an end yesterday,” according to a front-page piece by Mike Reiss of the BOSTON GLOBE. Former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh yesterday met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for three-and-a-half hours in N.Y., and Goodell afterward said that “no new corroborated information was revealed about the team’s videotaping procedures.” Goodell also found “no evidence” the Patriots filmed the Rams’ Super Bowl XXXVI walk-through. As for the eight tapes from ’00-02 that Walsh provided the NFL, the footage shown “was mundane.” Goodell said that Walsh “told him he never handed the tapes over during a game, thus eliminating the possibility there was an in-game benefit” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/14). In Boston, John Tomase writes in Goodell’s view, Walsh “offered no new information worth reopening the league’s investigation” (BOSTON HERALD, 5/14). Steelers Chair Dan Rooney in a statement said, “We are satisfied with Commissioner Goodell’s conclusion that nothing significantly new was discovered after (his) meeting with Matt Walsh” (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/14). Goodell and Walsh were joined in the meeting by Patriots attorney Dan Goldberg, NFL outside legal counsel Gregg Levy, Exec VP & CAO Jeff Pash and VP/Security Milt Ahlerich (THE DAILY).

 Boston Herald Apologizes For Original Story
SAYING SORRY: Today's edition of the BOSTON HERALD carries the front-page headline "Sorry, Pats," in reference to the paper's February 2 report that a member of the Patriots staff videotaped the Rams' Super Bowl walk-through. The paper wrote while it based its report "on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false." The Herald admits it "neither possessed nor viewed a tape … nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/14).  BOSTON SPORTS MEDIA WATCH’s David Scott notes within its first two hours of being posted there were 24 “mostly negative comments on the apology story at the Herald website” (BOSTONSPORTSMEDIA.com, 5/14). In Houston, Jerome Solomon writes, "I can't imagine how difficult this must be for John Tomase, who wrote the original story." Solomon: "I know Tomase and respect his work. ... From what I've seen, he is a good reporter. This isn't a case of someone making something up. His sources gave him inaccurate information and the newspaper decided to go with it." However, Solomon adds, "The story should never have run" (CHRON.com, 5/14). 

KRAFT MAKES PUBLIC COMMENTS: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft made his first public comments on the Goodell-Walsh meeting on CNBC this morning. He appeared via satellite and held up a copy of the Herald's back page that carries the header “Our Mistake.” Kraft: “I just hope (fans) see this. ... I felt very good seeing this paper." Kraft: "This story coming out the day before the Super Bowl, the biggest game in our history going for a perfect season, was very damaging and put a cloud over us for the last three-and-a-half months and I’m glad it’s finally come to an end.” But he added, "This erroneous story coming out was really harmful and what bothers me more about this story is where it went throughout the country, … they won’t see this retraction." CNBC's Becky Quick asked Kraft about the team taping more than just the original Jets game last season. Kraft hesitated before saying, "Our coach misinterpreted the rule and these tapes that you saw went back five, six years ago, and the rule was clarified at the beginning of the ’07 season. That’s when we were penalized for what happened at the Jets game" (CNBC, 5/14).

PATRIOTS VINDICATED? The Patriots yesterday released a statement that read in part: “We have been saying all along and emphatically stated on the day of the initial report: ‘The suggestion that the [Patriots] recorded the [Rams’] walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 is absolutely false. Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue'” (Patriots). However, in Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes writes, “Matt Walsh, Roger Goodell and the Patriots: They’re all lying, at best, disingenuous, at least.” The Patriots issued an “outrageous statement that trumpeted their self-perceived vindication with regard to taping the walkthrough” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/14). In N.Y., Rich Cimini writes the Patriots are “feeling vindicated" as they released a "'We-told-you-so' statement" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/14). In Providence, Jim Donaldson writes while the Patriots "had every right to be indignant, [the team] arguably forfeited the moral high ground or righteousness when it fessed up last fall to years of illegal taping" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 5/14).

Specter Continuing With His
Own Spygate Investigation
END ZONE: NFL Network’s Adam Schefter said, “From the NFL’s standpoint, this is now a dead issue.” Schefter: “I think Roger Goodell went out of his way to answer every question and to make sure that there was full disclosure (yesterday). He wanted all questions to be fully satisfied on what should be perhaps -- barring the unforeseen -- the final day of the Patriots videotaping scandal” (NFL Network, 5/13). SI.com’s Peter King wrote of Spygate being over, “Unless there is new specific and conclusive evidence … it should be.” But the “shock waves will be felt for a while" (SI.com, 5/13). In L.A., Sam Farmer: “Goodell indicated that he and the league are ready to move on” (L.A. TIMES, 5/14). CBSSPORTS.com’s Clark Judge wrote, “You can draw the blinds on Spygate. Its run is officially over.” However, the “message is this: When it comes to the [Patriots], don’t trust them.” Eight months after this “mess started the Patriots and their head coach [Bill Belichick] never looked worse” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/13). SPORTINGNEWS.com’s Clifton Brown wrote, “We should put Spygate to rest.” Unless U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) “pries more pertinent information out of Walsh, the Spygate story has lost its legs.” It was an “embarrassment for Belichick, one which he deserved” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/14). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, “It’s the end of Spygate. Goodell would need a photo of Belichick talking into his shoe before he would do anything more about this” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 5/13). ESPN John Clayton: “Spygate is all but technically over, but reaction overall is still very emotional” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 5/13). But Atlanta Constitution columnist Terence Moore said Goodell’s "stated mission in life is to protect the shield. He did that by destroying those tapes last year and he did that today with this ridiculous press conference. This should not be over with, and thank God for Arlen Specter. Maybe he’ll get to the bottom of this” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 5/13)

WON'T GO AWAY:  ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas wrote under the header, “Stench From This Mess Won’t Go Away.” Yasinskas: “The NFL wants to just turn away, and it’s easy to understand why.” Walsh “might not have revealed anything new but he did lay out exactly how the Patriots cheated.” Goodell was “visibly relieved that there was no evidence of a videotape” of the Rams’ walk-through (ESPN.com, 5/13). In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon writes under the header, “NFL Tries To Sweep Away Spygate, But Issues Remain.” Gordon: “Goodell pulled out his broom Tuesday and tried to sweep Spygate under the rug” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/14). In West Palm Beach, Tim Graham writes Spygate ended with a “whimper -- at least as far as the NFL is concerned” (PALM BEACH POST, 5/14). The PROVIDENCE JOURNAL's Donaldson writes, "It all should have been over in September. ... Whatever the reason, Spygate won't go away" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 5/14). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "This last eight months has just been hijacked by more, more, more coverage” (“PTI,” ESPN, 5/13). But in St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes if Spygate has “come to an end, it’s not because the story no longer has legs. It’s only because Goodell wants it to go away.” The story is “not over, not one little bit, no matter how much the commissioner and the Patriots want it to go away” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/14).

THE COMMISH: ESPN’s Clayton said yesterday "was a good day for [Goodell] because what he’s been saying -- and also since February what the Patriots have been saying -- held up” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 5/13). In N.Y., Gary Myers writes Goodell has done an “excellent job in nearly two years on the job and is a refreshing upgrade over Paul Tagliabue, but he was all over the map” in Spygate. Goodell “didn't distinguish himself in this mess” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/14). FOXSPORTS.com’s Alex Marvez writes the NFL’s initial response to Spygate is the “biggest black mark in Goodell’s 21 months as commissioner. By levying penalties after a mere 12-day inquiry, Goodell’s attempt to quickly turn the page became a public relations disaster.” Goodell “isn’t the only one who could have better handled the situation. Belichick’s initial refusal to discuss the situation in any detail painted him as unrepentant and helped keep the issue alive” (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/14). In Chicago, Rick Telander writes Goodell’s “logic for destroying evidence was ... bizarre and twisted.” Also, Goodell’s tone has been “one of arrogance and protectiveness” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/14). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Cimini writes, "I like Roger Goodell. I really do, but he made a few missteps along the way that created a 'cover-up' perception. I just wish it wasn't a windbag pol like Arlen Specter, with his own agenda, that was playing the role of watchdog" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 5/14). ESPN.com’s Matt Mosley wrote the N.Y. Daily News’ Myers “caught Goodell a little flat-footed when he pressed him on whether he knew that the Patriots’ illegal videotaping dated to 2000.” Goodell “wasn’t clear on whether he knew in advance that the videotaping went back that far” (ESPN.com, 5/13).

GOODELL TOO HAPPY? SPORTINGNEWS.com' Dan Shanoff writes Goodell "seemed relieved -- almost gleeful -- that his discussion with [Walsh] yielded nothing he didn't know already" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/14). ESPN.com’s Mosley wrote Goodell during yesterday’s press conference “tried to hide the glee in his voice” after the “breathless buildup … on ESPN and the NFL Network.” It “almost seemed like Goodell was amused” by the morning’s events (ESPN.com, 5/13).

Brady Blasts ESPN For Its
Coverage Of Spygate Scandal
MEDIA COVERAGE: AOL SPORTS’ Michael David Smith wrote Patriots QB Tom Brady yesterday on Boston's WEEI-AM “ripped ESPN” for its coverage of Spygate.  Brady: “I think it’s a way to really sell newspapers, and all the ESPN stations, they’ve got to fill the air, too.” More Brady: “It’s just kind of the environment right now, though. I think that’s the way that guys make it. They just say the craziest things. That’s what ESPN has become. ESPN, to me, is like MTV without the videos, ESPN is without the highlights” (SPORTS.AOL.com, 5/13). Brady also said of the taping, "It wasn't the right thing to do. We paid the price. We accepted it. And we moved on" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 5/14). SI.com’s Don Banks wrote, “Watching ESPN and its breathless analysis, you got the feeling that the Patriots were wide open to a whole new round of discipline from Goodell” (SI.com, 5/13). NBCSPORTS.com’s Tom Curran wrote NFL Network’s Rich Eisen “was fairly apoplectic while [a] tape of the Steelers sideline during the 2001 AFC Championship rolled.” Eisen said to NFL Network’s Adam Schefter: “Taping during an AFC Championship Game which is outrageous Adam!” Curran wrote it “was as if people have all this indignation stored up and they had to unload it or bust. But, the way Goodell presented it, Walsh burst the bubble of every skeptic” (NBCSPORTS.com, 5/13).

THIS IS ALL THERE WAS? While the media was waiting on Goodell's comments yesterday, the NFL ran clips from the tapes Walsh handed over to the league. On Long Island, Bob Glauber writes while watching the tapes, “one thought kept popping into my head: This is what the whole Spygate mess was about?” (NEWSDAY, 5/14). In Philadelphia, Don McKee writes, "The most scandalous part of the tapes ... had nothing to do with stealing signals. The footage showed several minutes of close-ups of [Chargers] cheerleaders performing during a 2002 game" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/14). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Cimini notes the room "started laughing" when the cheerleaders came on screen (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 5/14).

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