Former New England Patriots videotape operator Matt Walsh, left, arrives at NFL headquarters yesterday for a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell along with Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and coach Mike Tomlin were in accord yesterday in declaring the end to Spygate.
Today, it will be Sen. Arlen Specter's turn to render his own opinion after meeting yesterday with Matt Walsh, the former New England Patriots employee who turned over eight video tapes to the NFL last week.
"It's over," Tomlin said.
After meeting with Walsh for nearly 3 1/2 hours yesterday morning, Goodell said the eight new tapes and information he provided to him shed no new light on the case and he expects to take no further action on the matter.
"The fundamental information Matt provided was consistent with what we disciplined the Patriots for last fall," Goodell said at a news conference in New York.
After meeting with Goodell, Walsh traveled to Washington, where he met late into the afternoon with Specter (R-Pa.). Specter, an outspoken critic of the way the case has been handled by the NFL, postponed a scheduled late-afternoon news conference until today because his meeting with Walsh ran late.
"We are satisfied with commissioner Goodell's conclusion that nothing significantly new was discovered about the Patriots' videotaping matter after this morning's meeting with Matt Walsh," Rooney said in a statement released by the Steelers. "The NFL did a thorough investigation that spanned several months."
Goodell, who had previous evidence destroyed that was turned over in fall by the Patriots, released publicly yesterday some clips of the video tapes that Walsh provided to the league last week.
The NFL confiscated a camera and tapes being shot by a Patriots employee on the floor of Giants Stadium in September during a New England-New York Jets game. The tapes and others the Patriots turned over to the league displayed opposing coaches calling defensive signals from the sideline. The act violated NFL rules, and Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000, their coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and docked them a 2008 first-round draft pick.
The Patriots admitted to following the practice since 2000, and that it involved four of their games against the Steelers, including AFC championship victories by New England at the end of the 2001 and '04 seasons.
At the time, Goodell said if new evidence turned up that the Patriots did more than what they admitted to doing, he reserved the right to punish them further.
Steelers officials, including former coach Bill Cowher, insisted all along that the illegal acts by the Patriots had no bearing on the outcomes of those games, three of them won by New England.
Tomlin and Rooney reiterated their stance yesterday.
"It's water under the bridge," Tomlin said. "Let the commissioner deal with it how he sees fit, trust that judgment."
Rooney stated further that "The commissioner did leave the door open to revisit this case and take appropriate action if new information is found."
The NFL has taken steps since to prevent such cheating from taking place. At league meetings last month, the owners voted to allow a defensive player to wear a radio receiver so defensive signals can be called in and not signaled in from the sideline.
Also, Goodell issued orders that teams must police themselves and all employees must report any violations they might see or know about.
"Earlier this spring, the commissioner's office took steps to address team activity by instituting measures to identify and monitor team activities violating league rules," Rooney said in his statement. "We believe those steps were appropriate and will be effective.
"Our goal is to win every game that we play, and our focus is on the future. We now look forward to moving ahead with the 2008 NFL season."