ESPN Report Sheds New Light on Specter’s Investigation of NFL

Arlen SpecterIf you’re a fan of the NFL, you’ve probably heard of the new revelatory piece from ESPN Magazine.

In short, the story by Don Vatta Jr. and Seth Wickersham (which is well worth the read if you have the time) reveals that Deflategate was more or less an effort by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to get back in the good graces of league owners after they felt he went easy on the New England Patriots during the Spygate scandal.

Their piece reveals tons of previously secret information regarding that particular scandal and the efforts the late Senator Arlen Specter went to in order to wring justice from the mess.

Specter, at the time the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was finally able to secure a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he threatened to introduce legislation that would eliminate the league’s antitrust exemption.

The NFL seemed to think Specter’s inquiry was motivated by Philly cable giant Comcast, who were locked in a dispute with the league over what cable fees to charge for carrying the NFL Network.

The Senator always denied this and it is much more likely that the former prosecutor was drawn to the case by an affinity towards investigations and a concern for constituents (primarily Eagles and Steelers fans).

On February 13, 2008 Goodell and Specter met.

In their 100-minute interview, Goodell revealed for the first time that the Patriots taping of coaches’ signals during games began in 2000 when Bill Belichick took over as head coach, not in 2006 as Goodell had previously publicly stated.

Specter Notes
Sen. Specter’s notes from meeting with Commissioner Goodell

In notes that Specter took during the meeting he underlined Eagles and Steelers underneath “Signals to QB”. Next to Steelers, Specter wrote four dates, which were the days the Patriots and Steelers played against each other from 2002 to 2005 (New England won three of the four contests, two of which were AFC Championship Games).

A committee counsel noted that Goodell was “defensive” and had the “overtone of something to hide”. The Senator was particularly concerned whether New England had spied on the Eagles ahead of Super Bowl XXXIX.

At the bottom of his notes Specter wrote, “No valid reason to destroy”, referring to the destruction of the Patriots tapes and notes by the NFL.

In his 2012 book “Life Among the Cannibals”, Specter wrote that a powerful friend urged him to lay off the Patriots as their could be a reward in the form of campaign cash.

Instead Specter decided to interview Matt Walsh, the man in charge of this operation for New England from 2001 to 2003.

Walsh told the Senator that the Patriots film crew did witness the St. Louis Rams’ walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI and that while it was not premeditated they did witness plays that aided the Patriots during the game.

Afterwards, Specter repeatedly called for an independent investigation similar to former Sen. George Mitchell’s infamous report on steroids in baseball. The Senator was ignored, yet always remained careful in public as to how he talked about the NFL.

Nevertheless, his notes from the Walsh interview reveal how he really felt. “Cover-up” he wrote.

5 Responses

  1. ESPN “journalists” Paternoed Brady. Their editorial staff is as good as Rolling Stone, NBC News, or Dan Rather.

  2. On what basis do you conclude that Brady should be “thrown out of football”? We now know what anyone who has followed the case has known for some time: that “Deflategate” was an owner-supported fishing expedition / witch hunt that was mishandled so thoroughly by Goodell & Co. that 8 months later there is still no evidence that any rule was ever broken, much less that Brady had anything to do with it. You can’t be guilty of a non-existent crime. The whole thing can be traced back to the NFL’s ignorance of the fact that air pressure is affected by temperature. Thus, they thought all they needed was to gauge the Patriots’ balls at halftime and find one or more below 12.5 PSI. That’s why they didn’t record the inflation levels of all balls prior to kickoff, and why they didn’t gauge and record the levels in the Colts’ balls (just 4, rather than 12 of 12; they “ran out of time” at the end of halftime) at the same time, using the same (accurate / properly calibrated) gauge for all 24 balls. If they had been competent, they would have taken these steps, and there would be no question whether the Patriots’ balls were illegally under-inflated or not (it’s pretty obvious this imagined violation never happened).

    If it can’t be established that the rules were broken, there is absolutely to reason — and certainly no evidence — to assume that Brady cheated (much less that he did anything worthy of being kicked out of football), any more than there is reason to assume Luck cheated, or that the sun will fail to rise in the morning.

    Let’s not be hysterical. Brady has done nothing to warrant the smear campaign he has faced over the past months. The NFL says Deflategate is about integrity, but they’ve been caught (with actual, indisputable evidence! Imagine that!) lying, planting false stories in the press, and being generally unscrupulous, all to cover their own blatant incompetence and admitted ignorance. If this is really about lack of integrity, then Goodell should be the one facing the consequences.

  3. Is it possible that this whole article is based on “new” info leaked by NFL (Goodell) in retribution for the court loss he just suffered? After all, wasn’t ESPN the same place that first reported the supposedly deflated balls? Not just coincidence.

  4. Cheating in various ways is the culture in New England under Belichick. Cheating is the accepted way of doing business, and is encouraged. Belichick, Brady, and the rest of the New England mob should be thrown out of football.

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