Roger Goodell’s First Fumble?

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Spygate isn’t going away, despite the NFL owners’ best wishes. It’s not going away because some things don’t make sense. Not to me, and not to Republican Senator Arlene Specter. The politician says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – whose tenure thus far has pretty much been a fairy tale – is “stonewalling” his effort to get behind the league’s “investigation ” of the New England Patriot’s tendency to You Tube opponents by videotaping defensive signals, a violation of league rules.

This all could have been avoided had Goodell responded promptly to the Senator’s initial inquiry into Spygate, a latter sent to the league office. But somehow the letter never reached Goodell, or something. Whatever the reason, Specter did not appreciate being ignored. He went public with his dissatisfaction and finally met with Goodell.

Goodell thought the matter was settled. Back in October, after revelations that Patriot coach Bill Belichick had illegally taped the New York Jets signals, fined the coach $500,000 and charged the team $250,000 and a first-round pick in the April draft. But once the “investigation” was done and the penalty levied, Goodell did something curious: He destroyed the evidence.

Heck, I’m supposed to keep my gas receipts for seven years; my tax returns and bank statements for seven years. The NFL destroys evidence in about seven weeks? What they ran out of storage room? This is the kind of subterfuge that, as Arsenio Hall made famous, “Makes you go, ‘Hmmm.'”

More recently, it has become known that a former Patriots employee, Matt Walsh, might have information regarding allegations that the Patriots videotaped a St. Louis Rams’ practice before Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans in February 2002. Trouble is, it doesn’t seem like the NFL really wants to hear from Walsh. They say differently, telling us that they’ve made substantive offers to Walsh’s attorney’s to allow the former video assistant to speak to the league under condition that would spare him from any prosecution. Specter isn’t so sure the league offers are genuine.

“If they had wanted Walsh to talk, it would have been done a long time ago,” he told ESPN.com. “They are not helping by keeping him on ice, unless they intend to keep him on ice.”

I’d like to believe they want him to talk. I’d like to believe that Goodell, who’s left no police report unturned in his quest to investigate untoward behavior by players, would exhibit the same dogged pursuit of possible wrongdoing by a coach or team official.

It’s hard to believe, though, after hearing the league’s voices this week. After a four-hour meeting, the NFL’s competition committee essentially said they were done with it. “I’m tired of hearing about it,” New York Giants president John Mara said. “It’s been thoroughly investigated, thoroughly handled.”

And, it seems, throughly shoved under the turf.

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What, Bill worry?
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