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Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 6:57 pm
by Bilnick
By JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer
Thu May 15, 3:52 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Hold on, NFL. Spygate isn't over. Not if an "incensed" senator from Pennsylvania has anything to do with it.

Sen. Arlen Specter on Wednesday called for an independent investigation of the New England Patriots' taping of opposing coaches' signals, possibly similar to the high-profile Mitchell Report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

"What is necessary is an objective investigation," Specter said at a news conference in the Capitol. "And this one has not been objective."

The Pennsylvania Republican was unforgiving of his criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, saying that Goodell has made "ridiculous" assertions that wouldn't fly "in kindergarten." The Senator said Goodell was caught in an "apparent conflict of interest" because the NFL doesn't want the public to lose confidence in the league's integrity.

"They are enormous role models for everybody," Specter said. "If you can cheat in the NFL, you can cheat in college, you can cheat in high school, you can cheat on your grade-school math test. There's no limit as to what you can do. I think they owe the public a lot more candor and a lot more credibility."

Goodell essentially declared an end to Spygate after a 3 1/2-hour meeting in New York on Tuesday morning with former New England video assistant Matt Walsh. Walsh supplied the league with videotapes of coaches' signals made by the Patriots, but offered no new significant revelations about the cheating scandal that has threatened to taint the team's three Super Bowl titles.

Goodell said afterward that the information from the interview with Walsh "was consistent with what we disciplined the Patriots for last fall," when the commissioner docked the team a 2008 first-round draft pick and fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000.

But Specter held his own three-hour meeting with Walsh in Washington on Tuesday. He said Walsh detailed how the Patriots used videotaped signals to their advantage: an offensive player would memorize the signals, watch for them on the sideline and pass them on to assistant coach Charlie Weis, who would then inform quarterback Tom Brady.

"And they had some obviously good results," Specter said.

The NFL released a statement later Wednesday.

"We respectfully disagree with Senator Specter's characterization of the investigation conducted by our office. We are following up after yesterday's meeting with Matt Walsh."

Specter said he would prefer the NFL arrange the independent investigation and was willing to wait several months — while he continues to undergo chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin's disease — before calling for Congress to take what he called "corrective action." Such action could include hearings or a full-blown Mitchell Report-type investigation. He said public reaction would determine the NFL's next step.

"I would hope that the commissioner would do this on his own," Specter said.

Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts also weighed in.

"With the war in Iraq raging on, gasoline prices closing in on $4 a gallon, and Americans losing their homes at record rates to foreclosure, the United States Senate should be focusing on the real problems that Americans are struggling with," the Democrat said. "I'm looking forward to another great Patriots season where they can let their play on the field speak for itself."

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the team had no comment on Specter's remarks.

Earlier Wednesday, the Boston Herald apologized for a story that said the Patriots videotaped a St. Louis Rams walkthrough before the 2002 Super Bowl.

In the apology, published in the newspaper's Wednesday edition and posted on its Web site, the Herald said the story was based on sources "it believed to be credible."

"We now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed," the paper wrote.

"We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification. The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots' owners, players, employees and fans for our error."

Specter repeated his disapproval of Goodell's decision to destroy the notes and tapes confiscated during the initial investigation last fall, as well as the "piecemeal" way the league has revealed details about the tapings. He also cited the fact a Patriots attorney sat in on Walsh's meeting with Goodell as proof the investigation has not been impartial.

"That sequence is incomprehensible," Specter said. "It's an insult to the intelligence of the people who follow it."

Specter's interest in Spygate centers in part on the two NFL teams in his state. The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2005, the same season in which the Steelers were defeated by New England in the AFC championship game.

Pittsburgh defeated New England earlier that season, and the implication is that taped signals from that game helped the Patriots in the rematch. Steelers chairman Dan Rooney has called the matter a "non-issue."

"I have a different perspective," Specter said. "I'm elected by 12 million people, and a lot of them are Steeler fans. ... Frankly I'm incensed about what happened with the Steelers, and I'm incensed about the notes being destroyed. I really am."

Specter was again asked whether his interest in the matter has to do with Philadelphia-based Comcast, one of his largest campaign contributors. Comcast has been involved in a dispute with the league over the placement of the NFL Network on its cable system.

"They have been a campaign contributor," Specter said, "along with 50,000 other people ... I've been at this line of work for a long time, and no one has ever questioned my integrity."

In an interview with HBO scheduled to air Friday night on "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," Walsh dismissed Belichick's attempts to minimize the impact of the taping.

"If it was of little or no importance, I imagine they wouldn't have continued to do it, and probably not taken the chances of going down onto the field in Pittsburgh or shooting from other teams' stadiums the way we did," Walsh said.

Walsh told HBO that his superiors coached him on how to evade NFL rules limiting the number of camera operators per team to two, and that team officials instructed him on ways to avoid detection.

Walsh also talked about Belichick's claim that he misinterpreted NFL rules.

"When I was doing it, I understood what we were doing to be wrong," Walsh said. "We went to great lengths to keep from being caught. Just saying that the rules were misinterpreted isn't enough of an apology or a reasoning for what was done. ...

"Coach Belichick's explanation for having misinterpreted the rules, to me, that really didn't sound like taking responsibility for what we had done, especially considering the great lengths that we had gone through to hide what we were doing."

Hell has frozen over....I agree with Senator Kennedy!!

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 7:16 pm
by Worff
This thread reminds me... why the hell is congress involved with Barry Bonds and people like that accused of doing steroids... maybe if congress didn't do stuff like that which is a huge waste of time they may solve some actual problems for our country that actually matter. And besides, who cares if sports players do steroids... all they're good at is running and playing with balls anyway... if it's entertainment then steroids will make it even more entertaining eh?

IMO There are absolutely ZERO sports players that are role models... and while we're at it, ZERO actors and actresses too.

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 7:47 pm
by Ceruis
Sorta like why is congress calling hearings and making oil company show up to it, or why the housing market is any of their concern? The answer is they rather grab headlines than do any constructive work what so ever.

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 2:47 pm
by Serano
Congress getting involved in pro sports is wasting our money. We didn't put them in there to regulate sporting rules.

Meanwhile - if a team wants to watch what is freely being given away by the other team by watching the coach, tuning into their FM freqs or learning hand signals - thats all part of the game. Pro-Baseball has had clandestine hand signals for the life of the sport - and if they give away a signal to the other team - its on them - not the fault of the observing staff.

and on a tertiary note, I am incredibly annoyed at the media believing that there is any relevance today with a 1970s Hotel that was the site of a break in (Watergate) and the last syllable being required to add to the end of any controversy it puts in headlines now days. let go of watergate and let s candles be s candles without recycling a 37 year old cover up.

And one final note. I love Spell checker in Firefox.

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 3:33 pm
by Bilnick
If there was some issue with the Anti-trust exemption given to the NFL by the government, then I would understand an investigation.

This whole "Spygate" (I detest how every scandal has "gate" tacked on to the end as well. Almost as much as I hate when tabloids merge two names together Bradgelina etc.....but I digress) has to do with the competition on the field, which the NFL should handle how it sees fit.

Senator Spector should STFU, and worry about more important issues.

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 4:00 pm
by Goofydoofy
Lets spend a bunch of money on investigating something nobody will do anything about! Ya, thats a good plan.

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 7:35 pm
by Jimbop
My thoughts echo those already posted. The need to have a Congressional hearing about a hot media topic is more important than fixing, oh, health care or Social Security. Isn't it great knowing that we pay people thousands of dollars to debate about the legality of actions involved with sports? Got to love how the Federal Government needs to step into the entertainment business (since that's all professional sports are anymore) and waste the country's money on stupid crap. But then again, if they didn't waste money, the Democratic and Republican parties wouldn't be able to parade out the latest incompetent Presidential nominees that bring hopes of "bringing the country's increasing debt crisis back under control."

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 5:56 am
by Hilf
you guys are all looking at this wrong, not to say you are wrong, im just going to talk about the senators point of view. What do senators and congressmen need to get into office? Votes. Who votes? Sports fans. Ergo, by putting their names into the limelight by trying to purify the sports millions of Americans love, these officemen, Specter and Mitchell, view their involvement as a possitive faction hit. Your faction with American Sports Fans got better. Plus these fellows might also be fans of the sports and are using their influence and power to bring their favorite pastime to the right side. Now im not saying they should be doing this, but if you were in their shoes, you might do it too, I know i probably would. Another problem i see is we want them to spend their time trying to fix problems that cant be fixed, plus the fact that they almost do nothing except show up and sign their names because they each have their own "cabinet" to do their work for them. Just remember, they are chosen to the government to help with American interests. And what else do more of us have interest in than sports (as far as nationally).

Re: Sen. Specter wants independent investigation into Spygate

PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 7:52 am
by Goofydoofy
I'm still unclear why all these people haven't been lined up and shot. Government needs to be removed. It simply doesn't work anymore and hasn't for years. Maybe when China takes over the planet things will get better.