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Spygate is Officially Over - for the New England Patriots


That's right.  The official governing body of professional football teams in the United States, the National Football League, has declared Spygate is no more:

Goodell said "the fundamental information that Matt provided was consistent with what we penalized the Patriots for."

Goodell said he did not anticipate any more penalties against the Patriots.

Goodell also said he was able to verify there was no walkthrough tape, no one asked Walsh to tape the walkthrough, that Walsh was unaware of anyone else taping the walkthrough, and that Walsh had not seen such a tape.

Matt provided them with copies of what Belichick had ALREADY provided them with.  Which shows Belichick, while caught violating league rules regarding taping of opponents, was doing everything he could to fairly and honestly comply with the NFL's investigation on the subject of Spygate.  He may have stuck his hand in the cookie jar, but at least he admitted it.

Now, before I delve too far into the Homerism Abyss and lose all credibility, I am angry.  I am angry at Belichick for doing this.  And, I am confused.  Confused because they didn't need this to win; the 2007 season proved that.  Clearly the most dominant team in football, it wasn't even close - except for 2 teams.  The New York Giants earned bragging rights and will forever be known as the team that stopped the juggernaut from New England.  The second team is an unhealthy Colts.  I hate winning in that situation because there's always a question mark in my mind.

Back to the death of Spygate - for the Patriots...

This matter was over and done with in September of 2007, but the NFL and Goodell grossly mishandled aspects of this controversy.  The  penalty  levied by Goodell was for the totality of Belichick's coaching career with the New England Patriots, not just the incident with the New York Jets.  Had this been made clear up front, we could have avoided a dumptruck full of crapola.

That brings us to the alleged Rams's walkthrough tape.  As reported in a Boston Herald Story , a "source" close to reporter John Tomase claimed a member of the Patriots's video department recorded the Rams's pre Super Bowl walkthrough.  This was later discredited by Walsh, himself a member of that same department:

We were also able to verify that there was no Rams walkthrough tape. No one asked him to tape the walkthrough. He’s not aware of anybody else who may have taped the walkthrough. He had not seen such a tape. He does not know of anybody who says there is a tape. He was in the building at the time of the walkthrough along with other Patriots video personnel. They were doing their job prior to the game. He in fact was even on the sidelines in his Patriots gear while the Rams were practicing. So it was clear that there was not an overt attack addressing access into the Rams walkthrough.

To be fair and balanced, Walsh was asked about what he saw on the field by an assistant coach:

[Matt] Walsh was asked during the interview today whether after the [Rams] walkthrough, anyone asked him about what he had seen. He said 'yes'. He saw Brian Daboll, who I understand is an assistant coach for the Patriots -- or was at the time -- and Daboll asked him what he saw. Walsh said two things -- one, he had seen Marshall Faulk in a formation to receive a kickoff or a punt, and he had been asked about offensive formations, particularly about the use of the tight end. My understand is that is not consistent with what we had learned prior to the interview, during the course of the investigation. At this point, it's uncorroborated, but it's something the league is going to look into.

Call it a stretch, but I don't think that would help you win a Super Bowl.

Yes, Spygate is officially over according to the NFL.  There will be many who will continue to stir the pot because it makes for good muckraking.  Blogs will have tons of hits, plenty of papers will be sold and we have something to talk about during the off season.

But, I don't want Spygate to be over.  I want it to continue.  I want it to go on.  Now, before you run me out of Boston on a Duck Tours boat, hear me out.  I want it to be expanded.  I want EVERY team in the NFL investigated for possible cheating practices.  How else could the NFL gain back credibility?  How else could other teams hold their noses up at the Patriots and poopoo them with an asterisk?  Wouldn't they welcome that sort of investigation?  Apparently not.

There's at least 2 smoking guns leading me to believe this is far more widespread than just the Patriots - and #1 comes from Rooney and Polian.  Steelers's Chairman Dan Rooney stated , "The New England Patriots' taping of opposing coaches' signals did not affect the outcome of games against the Steelers, including two AFC Championship games."  And Bill Polian, president of the Indianapolis Colts asserted pretty much the same thing:

I think it's fair to say we [as a committee] were satisfied with the explanation, satisfied with what was done. It's behind us. It's time to move forward.

Many Patriots fans, including myself, heralded this as proof positive Spygate should go away.  If Polian, one of our most hated rivals, says it's over then it's over.  Whoo hoo!!  Hallelujah!!  A hole has appeared in the clouds and sunshine has shone through, showing the way.  But, the more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me.  There was too much of this "moving on" talk from places where it shouldn't have come from.  It was inconsistent.  Almost as if owners, league and team officials had circled the wagons and decided to make this go away.  Polian was the league's mouthpiece because, on the surface, it would be more plausible.

In their eyes, this had to go away.  It was bad for business and don't ever forget sports fans, this is a multi-billion dollar business.  In addition, the league just didn't want any more light shined squarely on them (Senator Specter ring a bell?).  Which leads me to the second smoking gun.

Many of us Pats fans defended Spygate with an "everybody's doing it" mantra, but until now, we had no proof.  You can find this story on Cold Hard Football Facts: element of the story remains strangely absent from the discussion. On Feb. 2, 2002, on the eve of Super Bowl XXXVI, on the very same day Walsh was allegedly filming Rams practice, the New York Times reported that somebody was seen spying on the Patriots as they prepared for the big game.

The most interesting aspect of the story? League officials themselves saw the spy, at least according to the Times story filed by Judy Battista.
The key passage from her 2002 report:
“Club and league officials (our emphasis) said a telescope was clearly visible in the window, according to a pool report, and that 15 minutes later, a person appeared at the window, and then vanished.”
That's right, ladies and gents.  Someone was watching the Patriots's walkthrough with a telescope.  Yes, keep Spygate going.  Feed that engine.  Expand the investigation to everyone or lose even more credibility.  That's this Pats Homer's message to the NFL*.