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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell destroys Spygate evidence

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Guest Patriots are Phonies

"I am very concerned about the underlying facts on the taping, the reasons for the judgment on the limited penalties and, most of all, on the inexplicable destruction of the tapes," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in a Thursday letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.


Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the matter could put the league's antitrust exemption at risk.


"Their antitrust exemption has been on my mind for a long time," he said in a Capitol Hill news conference.


NFL security confiscated a video camera and tape from a Patriots employee during New England's 38-14 victory over the New York Jets. The employee was accused of aiming his camera at the Jets' defensive coaches as they signaled to players on the field.


Goodell fined Belichick $500,000, the maximum amount, and docked the team $250,000 and a first-round draft pick. It was the biggest fine ever for a coach and the first time in NFL history a first-round draft pick has been confiscated as a penalty.


After its investigation, the NFL said it destroyed all materials it received from the Patriots.


On September 10, Belichick was accused by the Jets of authorizing his staff to film the Jets' defensive signals from an on-field location, a violation of league rules. The Jets confiscated the video camera used by video assistant Matt Estrella to film the signals during the game and filed a complaint to the league office, detailing the accusations.


Two days later, Belichick issued a statement "to apologize to everyone who has been affected," and also stated that he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about Belichick's "interpretation of the rule." Page 105 of the 2007 NFL "Game Operations Manual" states, "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...All video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead." Belichick stated that he believed that if footage so collected was not used during the game, its collection was legal, as the NFL Constitution and Bylaws stipulate that "...any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited...that might aid a team during the playing of a game."



On September 13, Belichick was officially fined $500,000–the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's 87-year history, and the maximum permitted under league rules. The Patriots were also fined $250,000, and in addition were stripped of their first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. If the Patriots had missed the playoffs, they would have instead forfeited their second and third round selections in the 2008 draft. Goodell said that he fined the Patriots as a team because Belichick is effectively the team's general manager as well as head coach, and exercises so much control over the Patriots' on-field operations that "his actions and decisions are properly attributed to the club." Goodell considered suspending Belichick, but decided that taking away draft picks would be more severe in the long run. The Patriots officially clinched their fifth straight AFC East title on November 25, in the process becoming the first NFL team to be docked a first-round pick.


Belichick later issued a statement in which he apologized for what he called a "mistake" in his interpretation of the rules. However, he denied ever using videotape to gain an advantage while a game was underway.


On September 16, Goodell ordered the Patriots to hand over all notes, tapes, and other materials related to the incident, threatening further discipline if the Patriots did not comply. On September 20, the NFL announced they had received and destroyed the requested materials, but has never revealed their contents.


On February 2, 2008, the day before the Patriots' appearance in Super Bowl XLII, an unnamed source told the Boston Herald that a member of the Patriots video staff videotaped the St. Louis Rams' Saturday walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome. Matt Walsh, a former Patriots video assistant who was with the team in 2001 as a video assistant and was fired after the 2002 season, which he spent as a scouting assistant, has also indicated that he has a lot of information regarding this but has not yet divulged it: "If I had a reason to want to go public or tell a story, I could have done it before this even broke," he said. "I could have said everything rather than having [Eric] Mangini be the one to bring it out." Although these reports were subsequently denied by Patriots management shortly thereafter, Kurt Warner, the Rams' quarterback during Super Bowl XXXVI would like to see the NFL further the investigation.


During a Patriots practice the day before the Patriots allegedly videotaped the Rams, Patriots linebackers coach Pepper Johnson noticed a telescope in a third-floor window of a house near the Patriots' practice field at Tulane University. Later, a person appeared at the window before leaving, while team and NFL officials monitored the window with binoculars.

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team in any sport that goes out to play the game should be removed from their respective league if they have even the slightest belief that their signals are not being watched, recorded, and studied. That very likelihood adds a very important aspect to the game. It requires teams to prepare mentally and learn new signals. At least now people can say that athletes do have to use their brains, unlike all of the people who continue to make a big deal out of nothing. Turn off Sportstalk and tune in to Access Hollywood, the insider, Entertainment tonight, or even better.....Lifetime! You little girl!

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