After the most recent controversy surrounding the New England Patriots Super Bowl run in 2014 came to a close, most of us in the sports world were glad to get back to just football talks… Then Spygate came back.
A recent Outside the Lines special report found that the Patriots recorded over 40 games of opponents between 2000 – 2007. Most notably, Super Bowl XXVI between the Rams and Patriots, and the game that began the investigation week one vs the Jets in 2006 when the Patriots were caught filming the Jets signals.
The NFL began an inquiry shortly following that Jets game finding eight tapes of opposing teams play calls and hand signals. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered those tapes be destroyed, and all notes on those films shredded.
The rest of the league was outraged. American’s football fans were outraged. It even reached the United States senate floor, where it was asked that a federal investigation take place to find out how much cheating truly happened and why the evidence was destroyed. That investigation never ended up happening.
Senator Arlen Specter said in 2008, “The commissioner’s investigation has been fatally flawed.” He’d add later on the senate floor said that the investigation was, “Not objective, transparent, or adequate.”
But if that wasn’t bad enough, the recent report gets worse for the league and Goodell.
Former St. Louis Rams Head Coach Mike Martz (who lost in a Super Bowl to the Patriots) said he was told by Goodell to write a statement claiming that he (Martz) felt the punishment for the Patriots for Spygate was fair. Martz however said recently “He[Goodell] told me, The league doesn’t need this. We’re asking you to come out with a couple lines exonerating us and saying we did our due diligence,”
Martz also said that the wording of his statement was altered but by who he doesn’t know.
Goodell also allegedly went on to claim (while talking to Martz) that if the federal investigation that senator Specter was asking for took place, it would be terrible for the league and its reputation.
It’s now been revealed that over 40 games (not the original eight Goodell claimed) had been filmed of other teams play calls/ hand signals. That includes preseason, regular season, and postseason games, in addition to walk-throughs for Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams.
Here in St. Louis there are numerous reports by players and coaches that said they knew there was cheating. The Rams created new plays just for the Super Bowl with all new signals and play calls. Their suspicions were right. The Patriots were caught taping the Rams walk-through before that game. That walk-through contained redzone plays never seen before and on those plays the Rams were stopped every time. The filming also includes Marshall Faulk taking kickoffs, something he’d only done once his career, in an attempt to avoid the star running back from returning kicks. In that game the Patriots kicked it towards the sidelines to narrow the returns. Though not a bad move regardless of knowledge of the play in advance or not, it does bring in questions about would the Patriots have done that if they didn’t know Faulk was a returner at that time.
Though deeply rumored yet unprovable at this point, unconfirmed reports tell of the Patriots attempting (and succeeding) to steal teams play sheets or game plans. Though that for now remains a rumor.
It will be curious if this resparks a call for an actual investigation done under the law of the country and not just within the NFL’s own investigative powers. Will any truths we don’t know come out and if so, what will they be? What will the reaction by the league and teams be if these reports are true if a federal investigation deems what has been found accurate, or if the courts find even further evidence into the tampering.