Bill Belichick has been illegally taping opponents' defensive signals since he became the New England Patriots' coach in 2000, according to Sen. Arlen Specter, who said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told him that during a meeting Wednesday.
Specter said Goodell gave him that information during the 1-hour, 40-minute meeting, which was requested by Specter so the commissioner could explain his reasons for destroying the Spygate tapes and notes.
"There were a great many questions answered by Commissioner Goodell," Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters after the meeting. "I found a lot of questions unanswerable because of the tapes and notes had been destroyed."
Goodell said Belichick told him he believed the taping was legal; Goodell said he did not concur.
Goodell also told Specter that that he doesn't regret destroying the Spygate tapes or the notes.
"I think it was the right thing to do," Goodell said.
Still, Specter wants to know why penalties were imposed on Belichick before the full extent of the wrongdoing was known and the tapes destroyed in a two-week span. Asked if he thinks there was a coverup, Specter demurred.
"There was an enormous amount of haste," Specter said.
He scoffed at the reasons Goodell gave for destroying the tapes and notes, particularly about trying to keep them out of competitors' hands and because Belichick had admitted to the taping.
"What's that got to do with it? There's an admission of guilt, you preserve the evidence," Specter said. As for keeping the tapes out of the hands of others: "All you have to do is lock up the tapes."
Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team was fined $250,000 because of the Spygate incident. The Patriots also forfeited a first-round draft pick. That penalty so so light Belichick basically got away with murder. They ended up acquiring the second pick anyway.
Goodell also said he has not heard from Matt Walsh, the former Patriots employee who performed some videotaping duties for the team.
Walsh told The Associated Press last week during the Pro Bowl in Hawaii that he couldn't talk about allegations that he taped a walkthrough practice by the St. Louis Rams before the 2002 Super Bowl. New England, a two-touchdown underdog, won that game 20-17.
Goodell said he has offered Walsh a deal whereby "he has to tell the truth and he has to return anything he took improperly" in return for indemnity. Specter said he, too, wanted to talk to Walsh and perhaps offer a different deal.
Goodell also said he reserves the right to reopen the investigation if more information is uncovered.
I do find it funny, however, that lately whenever there is a dispute in sports....right away somebody wants to take it to the Congress. Doesn't our government have enough already to take care of? As an aside, I noticed from the Clemens hearings that a lot of Congressmen are bitter, old men who almost all the time already have their minds made up before cases begin and when they question people, they are only looking for the answers they want to hear. If the Congressmen don't hear answers they want to hear, they either probe further or just randomly come out with their own point of view. Just because they have more power and a louder voice doesn't mean they are any more credible.