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League closes case on video spying; Harrison ordered HGH in early 2004

Video Scandal Case Closed
NFL Destroys Materials Sent by Patriots
Also: Harrison Purchased HGH in Early 2004

The NFL destroyed materials turned over to the league by the New England Patriots, and no further sanctions are expected against the team or its coaches as a result of the videotape scandal. The league sent a memo to all 32 teams saying the NFL was satisfied that "the Patriots have fully cooperated and complied" with the commissioner's decision and requirements.

According to stories in The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, the league matter is now closed. According to the memo, the league will continue to monitor and enforce league policies regarding in-game videotaping and audio communication of all 32 teams.

The Patriots also submitted a written statement to the commissioner that no copies of the relinquished materials or other records exist.

Other rumors and allegations of additional improprieties engaged by the Patriots, such as illegal placement of a microphone on a defensive player, were dismissed as unsubstantiated. "We have no evidence to support that claim," league spokesman Greg Aiello said. (There's that "evidence" word again.)

Don't believe that this is the end of other teams, their fans and the general public taking shots at New England for pummeling them the last six years. They'll keep making excuses for why they were beaten by a superior team -- except that they were beaten by a superior team.

Expect the national media to bring it up at every opportunity as well -- especially during the 2008 draft.

Goodell also admonished teams from attempting to point fingers and alleging cheating without substantiation following Ravens coach Brian Billick accusing the New York Jets defense of simulating snap signals at the line of scrimmage.

The Albany (NY) Times-Union reported earlier this week that Patriots safety Rodney Harrison purchased HGH during the 2003 playoffs. Harrison allegedly called a south Florida "wellness clinic" prior to New England's win over the Tennessee Titans on a brutally cold evening in Gillette Stadium in January 2004.

According to the Times-Union, citing law enforcement sources, the clinic created a phony prescription, and Harrison received his first shipment of the human growth hormone about two weeks before Super Bowl XXXVIII.

When the story broke of Harrison's four-game suspension by the league on Aug. 31, Harrison said that he had taken HGH only to speed recovery from injuries sustained while playing football and not to gain a strict competitive edge. Many people assumed that Harrison was referring to major injuries he suffered starting in 2005. This report could dispel that notion, but there is yet no evidence that demonstrates when Harrison may have actually used the substance.

However, Harrison did tear a groin muscle in 2002, during his final season with the San Diego Chargers.

The league said it wants to incorporate HGH testing in its policies. HGH has been on the NFL's list of banned substances since 1991.

I asked Mike Reiss of The Globe what exactly the videotaping rules say. He provided me with the following from the league's Constitution and Bylaws:

Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant, of any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited, including without limitation videotape machines, telephone tapping, or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game.
Reiss also said that page 105 of the league's Game Operations manual says: "No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." It later says: "All video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."

Reiss also provided the text of the preseason memo sent to all 32 head coaches and general managers by Ray Anderson, the league's head of football operations. The Sept. 6 memo read, "Video taping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."

Much thanks to Mike for the info.