Matt Walsh met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City at the league offices to discuss the materials Walsh had in his possession and if they included more information on a reported tape of the St. Louis Rams walkthrough practice prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. After nearly 3 ½ hours, the commissioner announced to the waiting media that no tape exists and Matt Walsh had no new information on the alleged tape.
The commissioner stated that he felt he had covered the two main topics of reports connected to Matt Walsh: 1) That there was information that the NFL was not aware of which violated league rules and 2) that Walsh had a walk-through tape of the Rams practice.
"The fundamental information that Matt [Walsh] provided was consistent with what we disciplined the Patriots for last fall - that essentially they were taping coaches' signals against NFL policy," Goodell stated in his opening remarks.
"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," Goodell continued. "He had not seen such a tape. He does not know of anybody who says there is a tape."
Goodell confirmed that Walsh's evidence was not enough to support further punishment of the Patriots for violating league rules and that the punishment he handed down during the 2007 season would suffice, but reserved the right to re-open the investigation if necessary.
"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 turn," said Goodell. "I always said, as I've said to you before, that I reserve the right if new information comes up, I will look at it. That's my responsibility."
The day began when the media were ushered into a room at a nearby hotel setup with television monitors. While Walsh met with Goodell, the league showed the media the contents of the tapes. The edited tapes were of opposing coaches signaling in plays and the subsequent plays or formations.
Amidst the seriousness of the situation, a moment of levity came when the tape of the San Diego Chargers game showed close-ups of the Chargers' cheerleaders. According to the league, Walsh did not film that part of the video.
In addition to the videotaping allegation that Goodell addressed, the commissioner mentioned two more items Walsh disclosed that the league will investigate: 1) A Patriots player who was on injured reserve, practiced with the team. 2) Walsh scalped Super Bowl tickets for Patriots players.
Goodell said the league would investigate the player practicing to confirm it did happen, and he indicated that the ticket scalping would also be investigated. "We will be looking into that, of course, also, and that was a non?competitive violation but something of importance to us."
With no new evidence to support the allegations that Walsh videotaped the Rams walkthrough, the league will move on.
Walsh left New York on Tuesday to meet with Senator Arlen Spector. The meeting with Spector ran long and a press conference is scheduled for Wednesday at noon. Spector has been critical of the league's handling of the investigation. He has also raised the issue that if he is not satisfied with the answers he's given, that he could revisit the issue of the league's antitrust exemption.
With Walsh admitting there never was a tape, and no new serious rules violations, Spector's public position could change. Goodell wouldn't comment on the issue.
"That's up to Senator Specter to respond to, not me."
Thus ends one of the most public inaccurate reports of rules violations in league history. Though some media members still clamor that the punishment for Belichick should have been more severe, Goodell said he was satisfied and that he didn't anticipate further sanctions against the team.
"As I said, I think the fundamental information that was provided today is consistent with what we knew last September, and that the discipline that I took was unprecedented at that time and I feel it was appropriate."
Case closed. Now, it's up to Spector to put the issue to bed.
Hot Topic: What should the Herald do now?