Monday, December 5, 2016

The Thriller in the Blizzard

At Foxboro Stadium in the winter, Patriot fans didn't even consider sitting down during a game.

Instead, we stood resolute, pelted by the frigid winds, our faces frozen, our knees creaking in protest, losing sensation in our fingers and toes. The only thing more tortuous, in fact, would have been to take our seats.

They weren't "seats" at all, really--just long aluminum benches with numbers stamped on them every couple of feet--and when you left to use the restroom, you returned to find that the other bodies in your row had somehow expanded, swallowing up your little chunk of cold metal real estate, and leaving you to shoehorn your way back into place, as you vowed never to urinate at a football game again.

Those benches couldn't possibly have been any colder. I'm convinced they were designed for maximum pain by some sadistic nerd who lost his girlfriend to the high school quarterback, and then, bent on vengeance, swore that he would make football as agonizing for everyone else as it was for him. We might as well have been sitting on cast-iron commodes.

Somehow, it didn't help at all that the following season would bring us a brand new stadium right next to this one, and that, as soon as the final game was over, Foxboro Stadium would be torn down with all the violence it deserved. The fans weren't going to miss this old relic after it was gone; it would have been like feeling nostalgic for your toenail clippings. We were eager to leave this place behind and move on to our new home. But there was an important game to play first.

So it was for my brother and me as we passed through the gates of Foxboro Stadium on January 19, 2002, when the New England Patriots took on the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff, in what has come to be known as The Snow Bowl.

The storm that Sunday was the only major snowfall of the season, starting a few hours before kickoff and ending a few hours after the final play. I always picture the game having taken place inside a snow globe, a perfectly encapsulated, snowy moment in an otherwise mild winter.

I couldn't help but lick my chops at the prospect of playing a warm-weather team, from clear across the country, right here in our New England backyard. Surely those California dudes would be no match for us as they flopped around on our frozen mess of a field. I figured we'd get a win, extending our improbable season for another week before coming back down to Earth. But that was the most I could ask for.

Fans all over the stadium were holding up "Back to the Bayou" signs (the Super Bowl would be held in New Orleans that year). All I could do was laugh. The Super Bowl was for powerhouses, strong teams with wily veterans who knew how to win big games--not for a bunch of scrappy young kids like the Patriots. We'd never make it that far. Why did people insist on setting themselves up for heartbreak?

We would never win a Super Bowl up here in Massachusetts. It just seemed wrong. Our team's home was a geographical region, as if our city and state were too small and insignificant to qualify on their own. Yes, we'd made it to the big game a couple of times before, first getting massacred by the Chicago Bears in the Foregone Conclusion Bowl of 1986, a game in which the Bears could've started kneeling down at the end of the first quarter and still won by 27, and then dropping another championship game 11 years later, a 35-21 loss to Brett Favre and the Packers. And it seemed that this 2001 team wouldn't even make it that far.

I had always thought that if the Pats had a chance, it was with Drew Bledsoe. Yes, they had gone a dismal 5-11 under Bledsoe the season before, and then lost the first two games of 2001 before Moe Lewis clobbered Bledsoe (and, as it turns out, nearly killed him) with a vicious sideline hit in week 2. By the time Bledsoe recovered and was cleared to play, Brady had carpe diem'd his way to the top QB spot in New England, a role he maintains to this very day, over 14 years later.

But of course, this was 2001, and no one yet had any idea of the historic future that lay before him. He was just some untested whodat from the University of Michigan, barely old enough to buy a beer. How could this kid handle playoff pressure? Yes, I felt Brady was the guy for the job, but he hadn't even played a full season yet. He wasn't ready! Alas, at least we had this game against the Raiders, and this game was a sure win.

No, it wasn't.

On their first possession, the Patriots gained 49 yards before the drive stalled; it took almost the rest of the first half for them to gain another 49. And forget about scoring--the Patriots only picked up two first downs in the half after their initial drive. Meanwhile, the Raiders managed to eke out a TD in the second quarter, and had a 7-0 lead at the break.

I don't know what Coach Belichick said to his troops at halftime, but whatever it was, it worked. The Pats took the second half kickoff and charged down the field, all the way to the Raider 5 yard line. But the drive stalled, and the Patriots were forced to settle for a 23-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal.

No, it wasn't a touchdown. But it finally, mercifully, erased that ugly "0" from the Patriots' side of the scoreboard.

Field goals aren't the worst thing in the world; all you have to do is follow them with a strong defensive stand, and you have a chance to build on your momentum. The one thing you don't want to do is allow points in return.

Sadly, that's exactly what they did.

On the ensuing possession, Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 38-yard field goal, and after a quick New England three-and-out, he added a 45-yarder.

13-3, Oakland.

Under normal conditions, a 10-point lead is nothing in the NFL. But these were far from normal conditions. Men with leafblowers cleared the yard markers at every stoppage of play, but their work was getting more impossible by the minute. Players slipped and fell. Passes were dropped. Every tackle kicked up a plume of snow. They may as well have been playing on Mount Wachusett.

It was the fourth quarter now, and given the field conditions, and the short time remaining, field goals alone would not do. New England needed a touchdown.

What happened next is the stuff of Patriot Legend.

They began the drive at their own 33. On first down, Brady hit David Patten for 14 yards. Then Kevin Faulk for 7. Then Jermaine Wiggins for 3. Then Troy Brown for 8.

Wiggins for 4.

Patten for 11.

Wiggins for 4.

Patten for 6.

Wiggins for 4.

It was a prizefight now. The Patriots were Muhammed Ali and the Raiders were Joe Frazier. Wiggins was the jab and Patten was the right hook, and, like Frazier, Oakland had no answer.

Second and goal, Patriots, on the Oakland 6. See the results for yourself.

Brady was a perfect 9-for-9 on the drive, for 61 yards, and capped it off with the first rushing touchdown of his career.

There was 7:52 left in the game, and the Patriots owned the momentum. The whole stadium knew it. The whole planet knew it!

I wasn't cold anymore. I didn't care that I had been standing up for hours. It no longer mattered that my gloves had soaked through, or that every stitch of clothing on my body was saturated with melted snow, as if I had been dunked into an icy swimming pool. We were going to win the game after all! 

It took eight plays, and four minutes, but the defense held, and Oakland punted. The Patriots started on their own 20. First down: 12 yards to Wiggins. Here we go again! Paydirt, here we come!

...and then, three straight incompletions and a punt. 

But how? Brady was on fire just a few minutes ago! 

And, just like that, a tiny bit of dread began to creep in.

2:41 left. Now, the clock game. Three runs up the middle by Oakland, three timeouts by New England, and then a punt. 

2:06 left. The Patriots were out of timeouts. There wouldn't be time for another drive after this one. This was it.

New England started on their own 46. After a 7-yard pass to Faulk, and a 5-yard run by Brady, I witnessed something that will live in Patriots lore forever: The Tuck Rule Play.

Brady went back to throw, and was hit on his blindside by Charles Woodson. The ball popped out, and was recovered by Oakland. Game over.

How could this happen? Tom Brady was supposed to lead the Patriots to victory! It couldn't be. It just couldn't! And yet, the fans were heading dejectedly for the exits.

Suddenly, the full force of the cold hit me again, the howling wind, the furiously-falling snow, and the prospect of a long, frigid walk back to our car, followed by miles of gridlock on the drive home.

But then, a glimmer of hope.

I had brought a radio with me to the game that day. Gino Cappeletti announced that the play was under booth review, and then, ominously, that Brady's arm appeared to have been going forward when the ball came out. 

"Guys, guys!" I shouted to the fans around me. "They're saying his arm was going forward!"

And then this... 

As it turns out, Woodson hit Brady in the head on that play, which should've been a roughing the passer penalty, but it wasn't called. I wrote an article about it, in case you're interested. 

Feel free to share my article with anyone who says the Patriots "got lucky". Funny--seems to me that if you rough the passer and get away with it, you're the lucky one. But I digress.

Infused with new life, Brady immediately hit David Patten for 13 yards. Two incompletions followed, and then a field goal attempt from 45 yards out to tie it. 

It was a line drive kick, barely visible through the falling snow. It wasn't nearly high enough. Was it?

Yes! 13-13, and we were headed to overtime.

The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive, taking over on their own 34. And the heavyweight bout started again:

Brady to J.R. Redmond for 1.

Redmond for 20.

Wiggins for 2.

Redmond for 3. 

Wiggins for 6.

Wiggins for 4.

And then, for some odd reason, the Patriots attempted a run up the middle and lost a yard. On 3rd-and-7, Brady hit Troy Brown. For 3 yards.

Yep, 4th-and-3 from the Oakland 28. It would have been a 46-yard field goal, into the wind. Much too far. The Patriots had to go for it.

Brady to Patten for 6. First down!

Yet again, Brady was perfect on the drive, going 8-for-8 for 45 yards. But they weren't done yet.

Time for some body blows.

Antowain Smith up the middle for 4 yards.

Smith up the middle for 1.

Smith off right tackle for 8.

Smith up the middle for 2.

That put the Patriots inside the Raider 10, well within Vinatieri's range.

I believe you know the rest...

...and, I Believe You Know The Rest.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Your Nine-Year-Old Boy

YOUR NINE-YEAR OLD BOY
What would you do if your nine-year-old boy called little Suzy a "fat pig"? Would you buy him an XBox? Or would you tell him that nine-year-olds should know better?

What if he walked up to a girl on a playground and called her "ugly"? Would you laugh? Would you high-five him and buy him a a Snow Cone from the ice cream truck? Or would you teach him to respect women?

What if your fourth-grader mocked a disabled boy in his class? What if, in front of everyone, he flopped his hand around and sputtered loudly in a crude imitation of the boy's disability, and what if he lied about it afterwards? Would you cover for him and say he wasn't actually making fun of his handicap? Or would you take him aside and tell him that all people deserve respect?

What if 11 girls in your son's school accused him of touching them inappropriately? Would you ask him if it was true? Would you allow the school to look into the girls' claims? Or would you categorically state that all 11 of them were lying and conspiring against your little boy?

What if your son stood up in front of the whole class and bragged about the size of his genitals? Would you be shocked? Appalled? Would you consider a full psychiatric evaluation? Or would you just tell everyone to stop being so sensitive, and that all boys talk like that?

DO all boys talk like that?

What if your nine-year-old told all the other kids that students from Mexico were criminals, and that we should build a wall to keep them out? What if, when you asked him about it, he said, "Oh, I was only talking about the bad ones"? Would you remind him that that isn't what he said, that, whether he was trying to or not, he convinced a lot of people that all Mexicans were bad, that words are important, and that he should watch what he says and how he says it? And would you remind him that we are a nation of immigrants, and that the people who were here first had their land taken away from them, so we need to be accepting of everyone? Or would you proudly state that your son is simply saying what everyone else is thinking?

IS that what everyone else is thinking?

What if, after doing all of the above, your son refused to apologize, denied that he was wrong, and instead blamed others for what he had done? Would you punish him? Would you try everything you could to get him to learn empathy and respect? Would you apologize to his victims? Ground him? Take away his iPhone?

...or, would you vote for him for President of the United States?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

If you're pro-Patriots, then you're also pro-Hillary. Deal.

Maybe you support Trump, or maybe you're undecided, but don't feel right about Hillary. Ask yourself why.

More likely than not, you'll give me an earful about emails. Or Benghazi. Or the Clinton Foundation. Or--my personal favorite--that Bill and Hillary Clinton are mass murderers.


We've heard of these scandals for so long--and so often--that our reaction has become conditioned: "Benghazi", "email" and "Clinton Foundation" are trigger words, shorthand utterances thrown out in place of an actual argument, the same way Jets fans shout "cheaters!" and then run away before you can respond. 


Hillary's detractors don't want to discuss the email "scandal" for the same reason Patriot haters avoid the details about Spygate: The more you dig, the less you find.


Despite well over a year of hysterical screaming, only one claim against Hillary has even a hint of validity: That classified information was potentially mishandled. Much has been made, for example, of the fact that Hillary used a personal address for office email, but this is perfectly legal and has been done frequently in the past, including by Republicans such as Colin Powell, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, and others. Almost reminds you of how scouting opponents' defensive signals is legal and quite common, and how Roger Goodell himself admits it, but somehow--maddeningly--it doesn't seem to matter.


It's illegal to discuss classified information without taking proper safeguards, the same way it's illegal for a doctor to discuss a patient's private health information in an open area where others might hear. A doctor can be punished for doing this, but of course, there is a huge difference between absentmindedly forgetting to close a door and selling Kim Kardashian's patient file to the National Enquirer. The former is simple carelessness; the latter is a deliberate criminal act.


Even Hillary's harshest detractors don't claim she was intentionally leaking / sharing / selling confidential information; once you cut through the hair-on-fire rhetoric, all they're really claiming is that she was careless. In fact, the FBI report uses that exact word.


"But what about the deleted emails?" you ask. Yes, Hillary's attorneys delivered over 30,000 emails to the State Department and deleted about the same number of "personal" emails that they claimed were not relevant to the investigation. 


"AHA!" you scream. "Why would she delete emails? Why would she do that? She must be hiding something! Guilty! GUILTY!" and, of course, I am instantly reminded of the Gary Tanguays of the world, who screamed just as loudly that, if Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone, that he must be hiding something. But you defended Brady, didn't you?


Yep, you did.


The truth is, you're reaching. You have less on Hillary than Goodell had on Brady. At least in Brady's case, there was an allegation, albeit a flimsy one, that there was a scheme to let little puffs of air out of game balls, so there was a possible motive for Brady to destroy evidence. In this case, neither Hillary, nor anyone else at the State Department, is even accused of anything specific. You're implying that she destroyed evidence without claiming that a crime was even committed!


At most, Hillary is guilty of being less careful than she should have been. And now, I'm sure you'll put on your most somber face and tell me that nothing is more important than protecting our nation's confidential data, and that we need presidents who are going to take that seriously, but all I'll see is Roger Goodell's face, his forehead wrinkled with concern, saying that nothing is more important than the integrity of the game we all love, and I'll reject your argument the same way you rejected Goodell's.


Are you sensing a pattern yet?


Benghazi? Take a deep breath and do some reading. Wash away the toxic discourse, and you'll find that the only charge of any validity against Hillary is that the embassy requested funding for extra security prior to the attack, and their request was denied. Of course, Hillary herself never saw the request, the same way the chairman of JP Morgan Chase does not see every loan application, and the State Department does not have a limitless supply of money to grant every single request it receives. But assume just for a moment that it was granted: The embassy was stormed by 150 men armed with RPGs and assault rifles. Unless the embassy requested a fleet of Humvees and an Apache helicopter, the extra security wouldn't have made a difference--as tragic as that is.


Yes, it was beyond horrible that four people died in those attacks. And the situation was rightly looked into. But the Senate took this to an extreme, forming a "Select Committee" in May, 2014, which then took two years and $3.3 million to complete its investigation. I can't help but be reminded of the outrage all of Patriot Nation felt when we saw that Roger Goodell formed a kind of Select Committee of his own, which took four months and $5 million to complete its work. We lamented the colossal waste of money, the ridiculously long investigation, and the obviously biased way in which it was conducted. I level the same allegations against those conducting the Benghazi inquest, while you seem to have embraced them with open arms.


And lastly, we have the Clinton Foundation. The main allegation here is that there is a conflict of interest, that the Clintons accepted donations to their foundation from individuals who had business before the State Department while Hillary was Secretary of State. While this is true, it is absolutely false that the Clintons derive any personal benefit from the Foundation. They do not collect a salary or any other form of payment, and it ought to be patently obvious that there can't be a pay for play scheme when there is no pay!


Now, it is true that the Clintons set up a a strict set of rules with the Obama administration that governed how the Foundation would communicate with donors, and how those communications would be reported, and after a thorough review, it is clear that those rules were not adhered to 100% of the time. But why do we insist that this automatically proves something sinister is going on? Again, if the Clintons do not personally benefit from the Foundation, what possible motive could they have for skirting their own rules? In fact, if they were up to no good, why would they have set the rules up in the first place?


That reminds me of a story.


On October 16, 2014, the Patriots played the Jets at Gillette Stadium. Jim McNally, the "Deflator", as he called himself, delivered the footballs to the field. During the game, Tom Brady complained angrily that the balls felt like "f*cking bricks," and sure enough, after the game, John Jastremski, the equipment manager, measured the balls and found them to be 16 PSI--almost 3 pounds OVER the allowable limit. The obvious question here is, if the Patriots were deflating their footballs, then how did they get so far over the limit? Did McNally inflate them by accident?


But, more importantly, after the game, Brady instructed Jastremski to remind the officials about what the rules were. He went so far as to request that Jastremski show the rulebook to the officials with the PSI section highlighted. 


Assume for a moment that Brady was guilty of illegally deflating footballs. Why on Earth would he call the referee's attention to the PSI rules if he was doing such a thing? Brady's own actions seem to exonerate him, as Hillary's exonerate her. 



The parallels just keep coming, as recently as last week’s debate. Trump was humiliated—were it a football game, the score would have been 63-6—but of course, Trump has never admitted to losing at anything; it must have been someone else’s fault, and so the blamestorming began. He had a faulty microphone. Lester Holt was biased. Hillary was mean to him. Some Trump supporters even suggested—get this—that Hillary was having answers fed to her over an earpiece!

Never mind that such a risky, elaborate scheme was totally unnecessary. The questions could’ve been predicted by an astute middle school student. Forget all that, and just realize that it’s a conspiracy theory regarding communication equipment.

Sound familiar?

Mike Tomlin’s Steelers lost to the Patriots in Foxboro in week 1, 2015, and after the game, Tomlin hinted darkly that the Patriots had knocked out the Steelers’ headsets. I, along with you, and anyone else with half a brain, immediately reminded the haters that the teams don’t control the headsets, the NFL does, and that anyone who believes otherwise is a tinfoil hat-wearing, moon-landing-was-a-hoax, grassy-knoll-dwelling conspiracy loon. And yet there you go, posting memes about Hillary’s earpiece.


Looks like you stopped thinking at halftime.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Kap Trap

Let me make sure I understand.

You can't stand how people are so easily offended nowadays. It troubles you that you can't speak your mind anymore without facing a torrent of outrage from oversensitive whiners.

By now, it probably seems to you that some people are just itching to snap into attack mode, to jump down your throat, haranguing you for your insensitivity.

You can't mention a man's race. You can't mention where he came from. You can't mention his religion. You can't mention his beer belly or his hernia. Just open your mouth, and someone is lecturing you about your failure to understand other people's feelings. 

We can't just speak off the cuff anymore. We have to carefully examine every word before we say it, in order to avoid damage to anyone's eggshell egos. Whatever happened to the easy days of yesterday, when we could say exactly what we were thinking, without fear of being hassled? The whole situation is absolutely maddening.

Right?

It's really a foolproof position. Mention any of the above at the next party you go to, and heads are sure to nod all around. People identify with this stuff! 

There's just one tiny problem. His name is Colin Kaepernick.

You didn't even think when you saw what Kaepernick did, did you? You just reacted. You swallowed your gum, or spit out your beer, or cursed at the TV before the national anthem was even over.

Of course, Kaepernick wasn't firing a gun, or driving drunk, or beating up his girlfriend. He wasn't even talking. He was making a statement, though: A statement that really, really pissed you off.

So YOU unleashed a torrent of outrage at Mr. Kaepernick, and YOU snapped into attack mode, and YOU jumped down Kaepernick's throat, and the throats of anyone who dared to defend that un-American piece of filth, and YOU harangued him for his insensitivity, and YOU angrily judged him for his disrespect for the brave souls who fought and died for the flag that he was now desecrating. 

In other words, you reacted exactly like the people you hate.

Now, of course, we'll begin the dissembling phase, in which you'll assure me that this is completely different, that we all just need to shut up about Donald Trump mocking a man's disability or Leslie Jones being compared to a gorilla, but that Colin Kaepernick should have his tattoos removed with a cheese grater for sitting instead of standing during the National Anthem. Spare me.

No one ever admits their hypocrisy, so I don't expect that from you. But I'd appreciate it if you'd at least be honest with yourself. Try it sometime.


What if I sent Roger Goodell the same letter every day for 100 days?

Roger Goodell, Commissioner
National Football League
345 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10154


Dear Commissioner Goodell:

As a lifelong NFL fan, I have lately found myself less able to enjoy the game I love due to the pervasive culture of scandal that plagues this league. Yes, arrests happen. Drug violations happen. Domestic violence happens, too. But a scandal is never a one-time event in the NFL: First comes a rash of news stories about the incident itself; next, a wave of headlines about how the NFL handled it.

This negative attention must not come as a surprise, since the league rarely even bothers to issue a public report after completing an investigation. Just recently, for instance, the NFL announced that it had exonerated Peyton Manning of any PED violations after a seven-month investigation, and no report was issued. The announcement itself was 129 words long, too short even for a middle school term paper, and yet, the NFL immediately put the matter to rest and turned its attention to other issues. Really? After seven months of investigating, this is what we get?

You seem to believe that, if you aren’t currently discussing something, and the media isn’t asking about it, it’s a dead issue. But there’s a residual effect that you appear unable to comprehend. Anyone who reads the news knows that Peyton was in fact a patient at the Guyer Institute, and that Ari Fleischer, Manning’s media rep, admitted that drugs were in fact sent from the Guyer Institute to Ashley Manning—exactly as Charlie Sly alleged on video.  We also know that Manning hired private investigators to interrogate Sly, and to dig through Peyton’s files at the Institute.

Yes, I know you say you looked into everything and that Manning is clean. That isn’t the point. The point is that it looks bad, that Manning acted like a guilty man, and the NFL offered no facts or explanations to dispel that notion. You succeeded in burying the story, but for many, the takeaway will be, “What are they hiding from us?”

Commissioner Goodell, despite the dismal state of your reputation, you still have a chance to put things right. You can prove through your actions that you are honest and aboveboard by providing through, meaningful answers to the following:

  1. As mentioned above, Ari Fleischer confirmed that Peyton Manning was a client of the Guyer Institute, that Manning’s wife, Ashley, was prescribed medication from that same clinic, and that the medication was sent to her home, as alleged by Charlie Sly. Was the “medication” in fact HGH?
  2.  How much credence did you give to Sly’s blanket “retraction”, which was issued on YouTube before Al Jazeera’s story even aired, and before Sly even knew what statements he was retracting?
  3.  Since Sly claimed on video that drugs were sent to Ashley Manning, and Ari Fleischer confirmed the same, doesn’t this necessarily mean that Sly told the truth on video, and that his retraction is not credible?
  4. Did you assess the credibility of the various individuals involved in this case? Who did you find to be credible, and who did you find to be not credible? Why?
  5. Would Ashley Manning be violating HIPAA by saying she did NOT take a certain drug? If not, could she safely deny ever taking HGH, if in fact she has not done so?
  6. During the course of your investigation, did you find any evidence that the Guyer Institute prescribed HGH to anyone (not necessarily the Mannings)? If so, was the HGH prescribed for lawful uses?
  7. In a prior investigation, you determined that an increase in the frequency of phone calls between alleged conspirators was an indication of guilt. Was it an indication of guilt in your opinion that Manning hired attorneys, private investigators and media consultants after the allegations against him were made public?
  8. Speaking of phones, did Peyton Manning surrender his cell phone(s)  to your office for analysis? Did you ask him for his phone, or at least for a download of information taken from it? If not, why not?
  9. Is asking for a cell phone, or a download of information from a cell phone, standard NFL investigative procedure? If not, what determines whether you will ask for phones / phone data?
  10. Why wouldn’t you ask for cell phones or cell phone data in every investigation? Isn’t this the primary mode of communication nowadays? What possible reason could you have for not asking for this information?
  11. Was it an indication of guilt in your opinion that Peyton Manning began his own, independent investigation into the allegations before the NFL did? Has any accused person ever launched an independent investigation at any point in NFL history prior to this case?
  12. Did Manning consult with you or anyone at NFL HQ prior to opening his own investigation? Is conducting an independent investigation permitted under NFL rules?
  13. Do you think Peyton Manning trusts the NFL’s investigative process? Why would a man who trusts the process hire his own representation and conduct his own investigation?
  14. Did Peyton Manning give you, or anyone at your office, an explanation of why he conducted his own investigation? Did you ask for an explanation?
  15. Did Manning’s independent investigation compromise the NFL’s investigation in any way? If no, how can you be sure?
  16. Doesn’t the mere questioning of witnesses by an outside party compromise the investigation, since it tips off those being questioned as to what the facts are, and allows them to prepare their answers to future questions?
  17. Was it an indication of guilt in your opinion that Manning’s private investigators went to the Guyer Institute and rummaged through his patient files?
  18. Did you authorize Manning’s investigators to review the files prior to them doing so? If yes, why didn’t you send your own personnel to supervise the process? If not, does it concern you that representatives for a player who was accused of wrongdoing saw, and potentially tampered with, evidence before your office was able to review it?
  19. Did you ask Manning’s investigators exactly what they did with his files?
  20. Did the investigators remove or add anything to the files?
  21. Were the investigators supervised for the entire time they were in possession of the files?
  22. Did the investigators have written authorization from Manning to review his, or his wife’s, private health information?
  23. Was it an indication of guilt in your opinion that Manning’s representatives traveled to Sly’s residence to question him, and when he was unavailable, questioned his parents?
  24. Was a formal report generated after this investigation? If so, why wasn’t it made public? If not, why wasn’t the raw information made public?
  25. Why does the NFL sometimes release a report and sometimes not? Isn’t there a standard procedure that governs such things?


Perhaps your job, and your stratospheric salary, are safe, but your reputation and your credibility are not. Please take the first step to remedy this by answering the questions above.

I sincerely look forward to your reply.

Cordially,


The Sports Police

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How did a guy with a chronic neck injury start so many games in a row?

We've all heard the allegations about Peyton Manning, along with his angry denials, and the media's rush to defend him. There's been such a hoopla that you may have missed something:

Peyton never actually denied that his wife Ashley has been prescribed HGH.

He's denied taking it, sure. It was four years ago; there'd be no trace of it in his system now, even if he were to be tested. No one will ever be able to prove that he took it. However, it is possible to prove that HGH was prescribed to his wife--there will be written records of that--and, sure enough, neither Peyton nor his paid representative, Ari Fleischer, will confirm or deny that Ashley was prescribed HGH. Why?

"It's an invasion of his privacy," you say. But it's not an invasion of privacy to say what you haven't done. If someone accused Peyton or Ashley of doing crack or crystal meth, he would have denied it immediately. And yet, when it comes to Ashley and HGH, all we get is silence. Perhaps Peyton ought to 'fess up and tell us the truth. If the whole thing is so innocent, why wouldn't he?

It would be a pretty huge coincidence, wouldn't it, if Ashley were doing HGH right exactly at the same time that Peyton was recovering from four neck surgeries? And that HGH is commonly used by NFL players who are recovering from major injuries?

Oh, and before you tell me that HGH is used for fertility treatments, you might want to do some research. HGH can only legally be used for three purposes, and three purposes only:

1. Childhood growth-hormone deficiency;
2. Short-bowel syndrome (for cancer patients who have had a section of their colon removed);
3. HIV wasting.

It is illegal, as in it is a CRIMINAL ACT, to prescribe HGH for anything other than the three ailments listed above. This means that, if Dr. Guyer was prescribing HGH for Ashley Manning, and if she does not have any of those ailments, then the doctor has committed a crime.

But never mind all of that. I just made a simple observation, so simple that I can't believe I didn't think of it before.

Peyton's neck condition is extremely serious, so serious, in fact, that his brother Cooper, who suffered from the same thing, never played a down in the NFL because of it, and yet Peyton started in 227 consecutive games! How could that be? Let's take a look at some figures:


Look at the disparity between Peyton Manning, an immobile pocket passer with neck issues, and the rest of the QBs on this list. For all my stat geek friends out there, there is only a 0.75% chance that this huge differential occurred by chance. This HGH thing is looking more plausible by the minute.

Unless, of course, Peyton would like to clear this up and go on the record, saying once and for all that his wife was never prescribed HGH.

We're waiting...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Operation Spoilsport: ESPN's 11,500-word temper tantrum

I'm sure it's a total coincidence that the NFL suffered a humiliating defeat in Judge Richard Berman's courtroom less than a week ago, and now there's a full-length article up on ESPN.com which basically says, "Well, the Patriots are rulebreakers anyway!"

Never mind that 90% of the article rehashes old allegations that were published eight years ago. Never mind that it contains a total of thirty-seven unattributed quotes and one unnamed source after another. Never mind that the star witnesses for ESPN's case are:


  1. Matt Walsh, a disgruntled former Patriots employee, who was fired not for poor performance as the authors claim, but for surreptitiously recording a conversation with his supervisor without permission. Walsh strongly implied that he had a videotape of the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl 36, then admitted he was lying--and yet, our friends at ESPN accept his every word as infallible gospel;
  2. Arlen Specter, who is dead; and,
  3. A bunch of people who refused to allow their names to be used.


A few key points from the analysis below:

ESPN makes a Federal case (chuckle) out of the Patriots' use of stolen defensive signals, and tries mightily to imply that these signals helped them win games. But of course, this type of assessment is completely subjective, and ESPN itself presents evidence that signal stealing isn't very effective. And even if the signals DID make a difference, this does not prove impropriety. Stealing signals is legal and quite common. Even videotaping signals is allowed, but it must be done from approved locations; sideline taping was banned by a league memo in 2006. Yes, a memo, not an actual rule.

The authors paint a picture in which the other 31 NFL teams are pious, churchgoing old ladies, and the Patriots are lawless hooligans. Any evidence of other teams' rulebreaking is ignored, even though it provides valuable context of what it's like to run an NFL team in 2015. Eric Mangini was caught videotaping at Gillette Stadium in 2006, and the NFL did nothing. The Miami Dolphins purchased tapes of the Patriots offense and used them to decipher their offensive signals, leading to an important win against New England. The NFL refused to even investigate. The Baltimore Ravens, and specifically Ray Lewis, bragged that his defense knew what all of the code words in Brady's one-word offense meant, and no one accused him of spying or cheating. The Patriots also reported that they were being watched during their practice for Super Bowl 36, and to my knowledge, neither the NFL nor our friends at ESPN have looked into it. Funny, right?

ESPN knows very well how football works. You are allowed to try to figure out what your opponents are doing. You are allowed to try to decipher their signals and calls from the line of scrimmage. It's not against the rules in any way. Every single team in the NFL does it, and if they do not, they lose. But ESPN is searching high and low for raw brains to feed to the zombied masses, who need to believe that the Patriots aren't as good as they seem to be. Any allegation, however ridiculous or unfounded, will do: No one is reading past the word "cheater" anyway, which is probably why it appears about 372 times in ESPN's article.

Point is, trying to figure out what your opponents are doing can sound pretty damn ominous if you don't tell the full story. If you're willing to tell just half the truth, and hide the other half, you can make a team look really bad. Welcome to the ESPN - the National Enquirer of sports.

The article carefully quotes unnamed members of the Eagles and Steelers who suspect that the Patriots somehow spied on them, though they provide zero evidence, but they ignore, or bury, quotes from Jeff Lurie, Eagles owner, Andy Reid, Eagles coach, Art Rooney, Steelers owner, and Bill Cowher, Steelers coach, all of whom say that the Patriots' wins over their teams were fully legitimate.

The few new allegations contained within this article are supported only by anonymous quotes and zero evidence. They are nonetheless presented as hard facts.

The purpose of the ESPN article is not to find the truth: It is to further smear the reputation of the greatest franchise in NFL history. It's impossible to beat Belichick and Brady on the football field consistently, and those who dislike them grow more frustrated about that by the day.

There are some formatting issues here, but I wanted to get this out as soon as possible. It may be a bit hard to follow in parts. But I have a feeling you'll like it anyway.




Date Allegation Source(s) Against NFL Rules? Y/N Anonymous Source? Y/N Notes
9/9/2007 Matt Estrella caught on sideline, "illegally taping Jets coaches' defensive signals" Undisputed N N Scouting opponents' defensive signals is legal and quite common. Videotaping signals is also allowed from certain locations. The Patriots were penalized for videotaping from their own sideline, which violated a memo sent by Ray Anderson in September 2006. The NFL cannot create new laws via memo; they must be voted on by owners, and this was not.
September, 2007 League investigators found a scouting library containing videotapes and handwritten notes of opponents' signals and diagrams of formations unspecified N Y Scouting libraries are not against the rules. Handwritten notes and diagrams are not against the rules. Videotaping from your own sideline is also not illegal, but it violates a memo that was sent in 2006.
September, 2007 "League executives stomped the tapes into pieces and shredded the papers inside a Gillette Stadium conference room." unspecified N Y This is strikingly similar to the furor over Brady's cell phone. In both cases, no one has come forward claiming to know what was on either the tapes or the phone, but the destruction has caused widespread accusations that Someone Must Be Hiding Something.
Was this destruction of evidence in keeping with prior NFL practices? And why didn't you admit that some/all of these tapes were shown to the media before being discarded?
2006 "At least two teams had caught New England videotaping their coaches' signals in 2006, yet the league did nothing." unspecified N Y Eric Mangini was caught videotaping in 2006 also, and the league did not discipline him either. We only know about this because it was reported by the media, who were struck by the irony that Mangini was the one who turned the Patriots in to the NFL.
How many others besides Mangini were caught?
2006 "NFL competition committee members had, over the years, fielded numerous allegations about New England breaking an array of rules." unnamed competition committee members ?? Y There are no specifics listed as to what is included in this "array of rules"
2015 "Goodell deemed the Patriots and Brady "guilty of conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of football," the league's highest crime, and punished the franchise and its marquee player." Roger Goodell Y N "Conduct Detrimental" applies to teams, not players. Players cannot be punished under this clause per the CBA. Further, per Judge Berman's ruling, it was improper to invoke conduct detrimental over football inflation, when there were already equipment violation rules on the books.
2015 "After Goodell had upheld Brady's punishment, on the basis mainly of his failure to cooperate by destroying his cellphone…" Undisputed N N Ted Wells did not ask for Brady's cell phone. He only asked for the information FROM the phone, which Brady provided. Roger Goodell refused this information because it would have been "impractical" to follow up with the 28 NFL-related people with whom Brady had been in touch.
2007 "...the NFL's stonewalling of a potential congressional investigation into the matter…" authors' opinion N N In a June 16, 2008 interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, Specter said he "had gone as far as he could" with the matter, and would not request a senate hearing. You can't stonewall an investigation that no one is pursuing.
2000 ...before a Patriots preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jimmy Dee, the head of New England's video department, approached one of his charges, Matt Walsh, with a strange assignment: He wanted Walsh to film the Bucs' offensive and defensive signals, the arm waving and hand folding that team coaches use to communicate plays and formations to the men on the field.  Matt Walsh N N The article goes into great detail with respect to how the videotaping was done, in the Tampa game and others. Again, videotaping opponents' signals is legal; only doing so from a team's own sideline is prohibited by the 2006 memo. Even if we assume (wrongly) that a memo is a rule, most of the incidents described pre-dated this memo, and were therefore completely legal in any case.
2008 Walsh recalled to Senate investigators that [Ernie] Adams told old stories from the Browns about giving a video staffer an NFL Films shirt and assigning him to film the opponents' sideline huddles and grease boards from behind the bench.  Matt Walsh N N Belichick left the Browns in 1995, 11 years before the Ray Anderson memo prohibited sideline videotaping. Everything described here was legal. Incidentally, the authors do not claim otherwise, and in fact rarely comment on the legality of any act, despite the ominous tone of the article.
c. 2004 "an entire system of covert videotaping was developed and a secret library created…" unspecified N Y The videotaping wasn't covert. It was conducted on the Patriots' sideline in front of tens of thousands of spectators. And no, taping over your Patriots' logo doesn't make it covert.
Of course the library was "secret". Did you expect them to post their scouting videos on patriots.com?
c. 2004 "Sources with knowledge of the system say an advance scout would attend the games of upcoming Patriots opponents and assemble a spreadsheet of all the signals and corresponding plays. The scout would give it to Adams, who would spend most of the week in his office with the door closed, matching the notes to the tapes filmed from the sideline" unspecified N Y This type of scouting is 100% legal today and always has been. All 32 NFL teams scout their opponents.
c. 2004 "the Patriots' videographers were told to look like media members, to tape over their team logos or turn their sweatshirt inside out, to wear credentials that said Patriots TV or Kraft Productions. The videographers also were provided with excuses for what to tell NFL security if asked what they were doing: Tell them you're filming the quarterbacks. Or the kickers. Or footage for a team show" Matt Walsh N N A-HA! Lying! There must be an NFL rule against that! And, BTW, why do we automatically assume that Matt Walsh's testimony is so completely unassailable? This is a man who was first disciplined for poor job performance, then fired outright for surreptitiously taping a conversation with his boss without permission. A disgruntled former employee with an axe to grind could be making things up or embellishing his story out of spite.
Unspecified "sometimes the team would add recently cut players from upcoming opponents and pay them only to help decipher signals, former Patriots staffers say" "Former Patriots staffers" N Y It's common practice to sign a player who's been cut from an upcoming opponent in order to collect scouting information. Legal and common.
Unspecified "A former Patriots employee who was directly involved in the taping system says "it helped our offense a lot," especially in divisional games in which there was a short amount of time between the first and second matchups, making it harder for opposing coaches to change signals." Former Patriots employee N Y Great, except another employee says that Ernie Adams was "horrible" and that the tapes weren't useful at all. Besides, if this "former employee" worked for the Patriots pre-2006, then the tapes were 100% legal.
Unspecified "Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team's offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) " Former New England coaches and employees Y Y Let me make sure I understand.
Opponents left their play sheets out in the open, unattended, and a low-level employee was able to sneak in and out of the locker room undetected, knowng exactly where the play sheets were being stored. And even though there were no windows to peer into to verify that the locker room was empty, he just barged right in anyway.
 And these opponents, after finding that their play sheets had been stolen, chose not to report it to anyone, and instead left fake play sheets. Even now, when it's open season on the Patriots, and when one major scandal would probably mean the end of Belichick's career, no one is speaking up.
This would be a huge scandal by any measure. Why wouldn't / didn't the opponents say anything to anyone about it, ever?

Lastly, as we all know by now, there are security cameras at Gillette Stadium. Why would the Patriots order one of their employees to do something like this, which would be clearly captured on video?
Unspecified "Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. " Numerous former employees N Y How does one "rummage through" a hotel? Do you mean the garbage? If so, that's been going on since the days of George Halas and probably before. Believe it or not, Bill Belichick did not invent this. IF your anonymous sources are even telling the truth.
Unspecified "Walsh later told investigators that he was once instructed to remove the labels and erase tapes of a Patriots practice because the team had illegally used a player on injured reserve" Matt Walsh Y N Common across the league. Maximum penalty is a monetary fine. Do you pretend that this had ANY effect whatsoever on a game? (If Matt Walsh is even telling the truth)
Unspecified "At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents' coach-to-quarterback radio line -- "small s---" that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach -- occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches' box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out." Former Pats assistant coach Y Y Since the authors don't dispute that many teams do this, I'm going to assume that’s true. The Bill Walsh 49ers were accused by Bill Parcells (for one) of turning off their opponents' radios during the 49ers first 15 scripted plays, for example. And, since the NFL official was right there, surely he took action, right? And yet we've heard nothing about this story. Sounds like BS to me.
Also the authors conveniently forget to mention that, when one team's radios go out, the other team must turn theirs off as well, so I'm assuming that happened in this game. 
2001-2006 "A former member of the NFL competition committee says the committee spent much of 2001-06 "discussing ways in which the Patriots cheated," even if nothing could be proved" former member of the competition committee ?? Y How do they know the Patriots were cheating, if nothing could be proved? What kind of cheating are we talking about here? This article is one vague generality after another. No substance.
2007 "There were regular rumors that the Patriots had taped the Rams' walk-through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002" unspecified Y Y The Boston Herald reported this story, then ran a front- and back-page retraction and apology. Seven years ago. ESPN themselves apologized for reporting the same thing last month. Now, after apologizing, ESPN is back on the same story again?
2007-8 "If it had passed, defensive signals would have been unnecessary. But it failed. In 2007, the proposal failed once again, this time by two votes, with Belichick voting against it. (The rule change passed in 2008 after Spygate broke, with Belichick voting for it.)" unspecified N Y Wow! Belichick voted one way one year, then changed his mind the next year? Clearly illegal!!!
9/6/2006 "The allegations against the Patriots prompted NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson to send a letter to all 32 team owners, general managers and head coaches on Sept. 6, 2006, reminding them that "videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited from the sidelines."" public records N N You only listed part of the quote. Here's the full one:
"videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."

Oct-06 ". In November 2006, Green Bay Packers security officials caught Matt Estrella shooting unauthorized footage at Lambeau Field. When asked what he was doing, according to notes from the Senate investigation of Spygate that had not previously been disclosed, Estrella said he was with Kraft Productions and was taping panoramic shots of the stadium. He was removed by Packers security. That same year, according to former Colts GM Bill Polian, who served for years on the competition committee and is now an analyst for ESPN, several teams complained that the Patriots had videotaped signals of their coaches" Senate investigation notes N N We don’t need notes from a Senate investigation to tell us that the Patriots were taping other teams' signals. The Patriots readily ADMITTED this when they were asked. They made no effort to conceal the videotaping; it was done out in the open, in front of 80,000 people. These facts were established 8 years ago, and severe punishments were issued. Unless you have something new, why are we rehashing this?
You left off everything after "sidelines", because you know full well that, the way the rule is written, no team could ever tape anything at a game. But every single team takes coaching video of every single NFL game, without exception. So obviously, there is some interpretation that all teams do when it comes to this rule, and just as obviously, the NFL is not interpreting their own rule to the letter. If a "club staff member" is taking video, then whatever location s/he is in would obviously be "accessible to club staff members", and therefore that person would be breaking the rule.
You cut off the quote because to leave the whole thing intact would prove that this was a selective enforcement of a memo that wasn't even an actual rule in the first place.
2006 "The tension was raised later that year, when the Patriots accused the Jets of tampering and the Jets countered with an accusation that the Patriots had circumvented the salary cap. " unspecified Y Y The Patriots have never been found guilty of circumventing the salary cap.
2007 "Mangini saw it as a sign of disrespect that Belichick taped their signals -- "He's pissing in my face," he told a confidant" unspecified N Y Mangini was caught taping the Patriots in 2006 in Foxboro, something you forgot to mention. Was Mangini "pissing in Belichick's face" by taping him?
2007 "They took him into a small room off the stadium's tunnel, confiscated his camera and tape, and made him wait. He was sweating. Someone gave Estrella water, and he was shaking so severely that he spilled it. "He was shitting a brick," a source says." unspecified N Y I wonder where it's written that NFL security employees can confiscate team property and force an employee of an NFL team to come with them. Are these law enforcement officers?
2007 ""Goodell didn't want to know how many games were taped," another source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation says, "and Belichick didn't want to tell him."" unspecified N Y At some point during the investigation, Bill Belichick told Goodell that he had been taping signals throughout his time in New England. Roger Goodell had a very good idea of how many games were affected, despite your efforts to make this sound like new information.
2007 "the Patriots told the league officials they possessed eight tapes containing game footage along with a half-inch-thick stack of notes of signals and other scouting information belonging to Adams, Glaser says. The league officials watched portions of the tapes. Goodell was contacted, and he ordered the tapes and notes to be destroyed, but the Patriots didn't want any of it to leave the building, arguing that some of it was obtained legally and thus was proprietary. So in a stadium conference room, Pash and the other NFL executives stomped the videotapes into small pieces and fed Adams' notes into a shredder, Glaser says. She recalls picking up the shards of plastic from the smashed Beta tapes off the floor and throwing them away." Jay Glaser N N Not sure who the "she" referred to here is. No mention of how much of the tapes the league officials watched. 90%? 20%? It matters, and no one is saying.
2007 "Sources with knowledge of the investigation insist that the Patriots were "borderline noncompliant." And a former high-level Patriots employee agrees, saying, "The way the Patriots tried to approach it, they tried to cover up everything," although he refused to specify how. " A former high-level Patriots employee N Y So you have an anonymous source, who, despite being anonymous, still won't tell you what the Patriots did wrong. And you included it in your story. Wow.
Jay Glaser adamantly denies that assertion, saying all the Patriots' evidence of stolen signals was turned over to the league that day. On Sept. 20, Glaser says the team signed a certification letter promising the league that the only evidence of the videotaping of illegal signals had been destroyed two days earlier and that no other tapes or notes of stolen signals were in the team's possession. The letter does not detail the games that were recorded or itemize the notes that were shredded.
2004 "The Panthers now believe that their practices had been taped by the Patriots before Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. "Our players came in after that first half and said it was like [the Patriots] were in our huddle," a Panthers source says. During halftime -- New England led 14-10 -- Carolina's offensive coordinator, Dan Henning, changed game plans because of worries the Patriots had too close a read on Carolina's schemes. And, in the second half, the Panthers moved the ball at will before losing 32-29 on a last-second field goal. "Do I have any tape to prove they cheated?" this source says. "No. But I'm convinced they did it." A Panthers source / Dan Henning Y Y So a coordinator from the Panthers, who lost to the Patriots in Carolina's only Super Bowl appearance, is going to give you a neutral, unbiased opinion of the team that beat him? Do you think there's any possibility of bitterness there?
Another parallel to the Wells Report: Automatically assuming that rulebreaking occurred as a sort of diagnosis of exclusion. "Well, it couldn't have been anything else, so they must have cheated". There is zero evidence that any practice was taped by the Patriots, ever. Which practice was supposedly taped? When? Where? Aren't these practices closed? And even IF a practice is videotaped, what good is it if you don't know which play is going to be run at which time? How could a videotape of a practice even be used in game preparation?
Oh, and by the by, funny story: Carolina's longest drive of that game was an 8-play, 95 yard TD drive--in the SECOND QUARTER, when the Patriots were supposedly "in their huddle". The first two drives of the second half, after the game plan was changed, were both punts. "Moving the ball at will", indeed. Yes, they had three TDs in the 4th quarter, but the first of these drives featured a 33-yard run for a score, and the second, an 85-yard TD catch. Big, impressive plays, yes. Moving the ball at will, no.
2002 "[Hines] Ward told reporters that Patriots inside information about Steelers play calling helped New England upset Pittsburgh 24-17 in the January 2002 AFC Championship Game. "Oh, they knew," Ward, now an NBC analyst who didn't return messages for this story, said after Spygate broke. "They were calling our stuff out. They knew a lot of our calls. There's no question some of their players were calling out some of our stuff.""
Some of the Steelers' defensive coaches remain convinced that a deep touchdown pass from Brady to Deion Branch in the January 2005 AFC Championship Game, which was won by the Patriots 41-27, came from stolen signals because Pittsburgh hadn't changed its signals all year, sources say, and the two teams had played a game in the regular season that Walsh told investigators he believes was taped. "They knew the signals, so they knew when it went in what the coverage was and how to attack it," says a former Steelers coach. "I've had a couple of guys on my teams from New England, and they've told me those things."
Hines Ward / "sources" / A former Steelers coach Funny how you mention Hines Ward, and some anonymous people, but you don't mention the coach, Bill Cowher, who said: "We didn’t lose the game because of any 'Spygate,' because of them having any additional things. [If] they’re guilty of anything they’re guilty of arrogance because they were told not to do something but it was something everybody does. They got caught doing it with a camera.”
“Stealing someone’s signals was a part of the game and everybody attempted to do that. We had people that always tried to steal signals,” said Cowher. “What happened when we lost that game is they outplayed us. It had nothing to do with stealing signals or cheating or anything else.”
2004 "How did New England seem completely prepared for the rarely used dime defense the Eagles deployed in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on three of four drives? The Eagles suspected that either practices were filmed or a playbook was stolen. "To this day, some believe that we were robbed by the Patriots not playing by the rules ... and knowing our game plan," a former Eagles football operations staffer says." former Eagles football operations staffer Y Y Moreover, Ray Lewis bragged before the 2012 AFC Championship Game that the Ravens had figured out the Patriots' one-word offense, and knew what all the various QB calls meant. Were they spying?
2008 "When Specter pressed Goodell on the speed of the investigation and his decision to destroy evidence, Goodell became "defensive" and had "the overtone of something to hide" according to notes taken by Danny Fisher, a counsel on Sen. Specter's Judiciary Committee staff and the lead investigator on the Spygate inquiry. "No valid reason to destroy," Specter wrote in his own notes." Danny Fisher N N Or what about Miami in 2006? Several players from that team admitted to purchasing tapes of the Patriots offense that allowed them to decipher Tom Brady's audible and line-blocking calls. The NFL's reaction? Nothing to see here--move on. Why didn't Goodell help his "friend", Bob Kraft? Was this illegal, or wasn't it? I'll bet you a dollar that, if the Patriots "purchased a tape" of another team, it would be front-page headlines. But for another team, it's not even against the rules.
2008 In his 2012 book, "Life Among the Cannibals," Specter wrote that a powerful friend -- he wouldn't name the person -- told him that if he "laid off the Patriots," there could be a lot of money for him in Palm Beach. Specter told the friend, "I couldn't care less."" Arlen Specter N N Do any the witnesses in this case have names?? Does he pretend that this offer was made on behalf of the Patriots? And why DID Specter "lay off the Patriots" eventually? Was it because Matt Walsh gave him nothing?
2002 "the public didn't know the great lengths that video assistants were told to use to cover up the videotaping of signals. Belichick had insisted that it was done openly, with nothing to hide." Matt Walsh N N Covering up videotaping is not against the rules. If the Patriots were videotaping from the press box, for example, no one from the other team would even see them, and therefore would not know about the taping at all, and it would be completely legal. Is there something sinister about that?
A man who is videotaping from a sideline, with 80,000 people in the stands, IS doing it openly--whether the videographer has turned his sweater inside out or not.
So WHAT if they were trying to conceal their videotaping? How is that a congressional matter?
2003-2005 "Walsh told Specter that the taping continued in the years after he left the team, by Steve Scarnecchia, his successor as video assistant, whom Walsh claimed to see taping opposing coaches' signals at Gillette Stadium from 2003 to 2005. Specter asked whether he had told Goodell about it. "No," Walsh said. "Goodell didn't ask me about that."" Matt Walsh N N Goodell probably didn't ask Walsh about it because Belichick already admitted to Goodell that he had been taping for his entire career in New England. And the years of 2003- 2005 were all pre-memo anyway, so it was 100% legal at that time.
2002 Walsh reported what he had seen to Patriots assistant coach Brian Daboll, who asked an array of questions about the Rams' formations. Walsh said that Daboll, who declined through the Patriots to comment for this story, drew a series of diagrams -- an account Daboll later denied to league investigators." Matt Walsh N N Daboll would have no reason to deny this. The event described is 100% legal. Employees are allowed to describe something they saw at a practice to their coaches.
Interesting, isn't it, how we start out with the allegation that Walsh had a videotape of the entire practice, and we end with a little sketch on a piece of paper. And oh, BTW, I noticed you forgot to mention Willie McGinest's allegation that the Rams were actually spying on the PATRIOTS' practice before the Super Bowl. When are you releasing your 11,000-word expose on that?
2002 "Faulk had returned only one kickoff in his career before the Super Bowl. Sure enough, in the second quarter, he lined up deep. The Patriots were ready: Vinatieri kicked it into a corner, leading Faulk out of bounds after gaining 1 yard." unspecified N Y Yeah, because there's no way they could've looked down the field and seen Marshall Faulk standing there waiting to receive the kick. Wow. Really dude?
2002 "When they ran the same plays late in the Super Bowl's fourth quarter, the Patriots' defense was in position on nearly every down" unspecified Y Dude. You just admitted that your star witness, Matt Walsh, had nothing. Now you're building a case that the Pats had something. Which is it?
2002 "The Patriots' game plan had called for a defender to hit Faulk on every down, as a means of eliminating him, but one coach who worked with an assistant on that 2001 Patriots team says that the ex-Pats assistant coach once bragged that New England knew exactly what the Rams would call in the red zone. "He'd say, 'A little birdie told us,'" the coach says now." a coach who worked with an assistant on the 2001 team Y Do you, or do you not, think the practice was taped? If so, how and by whom? Sounds to me like they played a hell of a defensive game and you're trying to attribute it to cheating.
2002 "But in his handwritten notes the day before, beneath Matt Walsh's name, Specter jotted the phrase, "Cover-up."" Danny Fisher N …even though, when asked directly, Specter denied there was a cover-up, just an enormous amount of haste.
2008 "Martz also recalls that Goodell asked him to write a statement, saying that he was satisfied with the NFL's Spygate investigation and was certain the Patriots had not cheated and asking everyone to move on -- like leaders of the Steelers and Eagles had done." Mike Martz N Now Martz says he didn't write the statement with his name on it. He says he had more questions, but he "got in line". So basically he's admitting to lying in a written statement released to the public, and now we're supposed to believe him, because now he's telling the truth?
2015 "Another legacy of Spygate -- consequences for failing to cooperate with a league investigation -- was used against the Patriots and, ultimately, Brady. " authors' opinion Y N Are you saying that Brett Favre would not have been punished for non-cooperation had it not been for Spygate? Was the entire concept of non-cooperation completely foreign to the NFL prior to 2007?
2015 "That, in fact, was the only notable similarity between the two investigations: the order to destroy evidence." authors' opinion N N Wrong. The cell phone itself was not evidence. The data contained on it was, and Brady offered this to Goodell. Goodell refused, because it would have been "impractical" to track down the 28 NFL-related parties that Brady had been in touch with, even though Ted Wells had just completed a 4-month, $5M investigation. Cool.