No More Penalties in NFL Spy Scandal

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has issued no new penalties after reviewing a new batch of tapes turned over by a former New England Patriots video assistant. The Patriots were previously fined and stripped of a top draft choice.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

NOAH ADAMS, Host:

And I'm Noah Adams.

Spygate is over. That's essentially of what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said today. He was talking about the illegal videotaping scandal involving one of the league's very best teams, the New England Patriots. Goodell made his pronouncement after meeting with the former Patriot's employee who acknowledged taping illegally, but apparently had no new information that could cause more trouble for the Patriots.

NPR's Tom Goldman explains.

TOM GOLDMAN: Last September, NFL Commissioner Goodell fined the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick $750,000 after the Patriots had been caught illegally videotaping opponent's coach's signals in 2007. After that, the scandal festered for months and led many NFL fans to wonder if the Patriots - a modern-day dynasty with three Super Bowl wins since 2002 - had cheated their way to success.

This past February, the Boston Herald reported the Patriots had illegally taped the final practice by the St. Louis Rams before upsetting the Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl. And the name of Matt Walsh emerged, a former New England video assistant who reportedly had more dirt on his ex team. Today, Commissioner Goodell met with Walsh, grilled him for over three hours, and emerged to tell reporters that really, this time, Spygate was done.

ROGER GOODELL: I think as I stand before you today, and having met with Matt Walsh and over 50 other people, I don't know where else I would return. I asked him that question, and he responded very clearly, I don't know of anybody else who may have information.

GOLDMAN: Goodell said two important things emerged from the meeting with Walsh: His information was consistent with what NFL already had on the Patriots, and Goodell said Walsh quashed the story about the alleged taping of the Rams' practice at the Super Bowl, called a walk through.

GOODELL: We were also able to verify that there was no Rams walk through tape. No one asked him to tape the walk through. He's not aware of anybody else who may have taped the walk through. He had not seen such a tape.

GOLDMAN: Walsh's comments to Goodell and the eight videotapes he turned over to the NFL were not especially flattering to Bill Belichick. It's now known he illegally videotaped opposing coach's signals as far back as 2000. It's permissible to scout an opposing coach's signals, but illegal to use videotape. When caught last season, Belichick told Goodell he thought it was okay to tape as long as the tapes weren't used in the same game. But today, Goodell said Walsh confirmed that the Patriots knew they were doing something wrong.

GOODELL: He believed and he stated to us that it was very clear that he had to be careful that nobody discovered what he was doing, that he was very cautious about when he did it, who was watching.

GOLDMAN: Goodell says the practice of illegal videotaping is not widespread in the NFL. While he hopes today put Spygate to rest, Senator Arlen Specter still has to weight in. Specter was meeting with Walsh today and will comment tomorrow. The senior Republican has been critical of the NFL's handling of the Spygate investigation, saying the League is more interested in preserving its image than rooting out cheating.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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