updated 5/24/2008 11:00pm
1) Is Matt Walsh believable?
LoVell Parkman: Matt MAY have told one truth, but overall no he is not believable. He is an EX employee. He has the proverbial axe to grind against his former employers. He stole tapes himself. Since when do we believe a thief with a motive to lie? He's using this opportunity to get his face out there and for a payday.
Shane Leketa: Believable ... that is a tricky question. On the surface you see some actual facts like 1) he worked for the Patriots 2) He taped signals 3) He was fired by the Patriots organization. So, for these reasons he is believable. As for integrity and ethics, here are my questions: Why did he keep these tapes? (Keeping them for coaching job one day ... doubtful) Why did he need legal standing when he came clean with the tapes and supposed secret information? Do you think he was looking for his Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame? I do. Believable? Not so much.
Kevin Saleeba: How can a fired, bitter former employee not be believable? Matt Walsh sees an opportunity to bash a former employer who fired him and maybe make some cash in the process. He really knew nothing new on this Spy-gate foolishness. He's nothing but a parasite who fanned the flame of this non-story. No one really knows what this guy's agenda against the Patriots is, but now this will go away. Why are we still talking about this stupid story?
Jim Poore: Yes, Matt Walsh is believable. However, the problem is that not too many people believe him, especially Patriot Nation. Walsh really has nothing to lose ( and perhaps nothing to gain ) by lying about anything. But it seems the more he talks, more and more things continue to come out. I don't think anyone will never know the real truth. It continues to be a 'he said, she said' type thing. It really is just a matter of whom one chooses to believe, Bill Belichick or Matt Walsh. Take your pick.
Jon Scott: I'm one of those who have seen the evidence, listened to both sides (as much as possible) and have still not come to a conclusion of if Walsh's entire story is legitimate. I believe he did things for the organization that the team didn't want made public. I believe some of those were in a very grey area of the rules. However, there are a number of points Walsh claimed that are difficult to take for gospel. In the end, the thinly veiled attack by one media outlet on Walsh's credibility may be enough to cause anyone who hears his story to doubt his claims. The desire to put this entire episode in the past may enough to convince others he's not worth listening to. But Walsh corroborated a lot of claims by other teams that the Patriots crossed the line, and in the end, you have to believe at least that part of the story is believable.
2) What was your reaction to Bill Belichick's interview on CBS?
Parkman: I'm glad he did say something. I wish he were a little more aggressive when talking about Walsh.
Leketa: I actually had two feelings about Bill Belichick's interview. At first I felt like this wasn't the Patriot way. They have always been tight lipped about everything that they do, whether it was about injuries or perjuries. Then, when I heard the interview it in it's entirety, I saw a man that has had enough. I saw a man that felt that he needed to keep this "third stringer" video assistant in check after making these slanderous and over hyped accusations. So more power to him, I cannot say that I wouldn't have said the same and more a lot earlier in this process.
Saleeba: Belichick should have done the interview when the story first broke. His silence helped feed the story for so many months. To think Matt Walsh had anything to do with the game planning for Super Bowl XXXVI is simply laughable and Belichick reinforced that in the interview.
Poore: I actually did not see the entire interview, just a few bits and pieces. One thing I thought of when seeing the clips was Roger Clemens. Bill Belichick was acting very similar to Roger Clemens when he did his interview. Unlike Walsh, I think Belichick DOES have a lot to lose. However, because of his extreme arrogance, he knows the fans of New England will always believe him and defend him to no end, and Belichick is taking advantage of that. I still find it very telling that Belichick STILL has not apologized to anybody, even though he was convicted of cheating. He felt ( and still does ) that he is so above everybody else that the rules do not apply to him. $500,000 later may be he realizes they do.
Scott: I wrote for the site that (like some other media outlets pointed out) Belichick might have been better off not to do the immediate retort to Walsh's interview. To me it was obvious that Belichick's responses were directed at discrediting Walsh more than addressing the key questions posed by his interviewer. When Armen Keyetian asked about the memo (2006-07 NFL memo on videotaping), I was disappointed in Belichick's response of misinterpreting the rules. The coach did not do himself - or the organization - any favors with that answer. He had a chance to put the whole thing to rest, and didn't do it in my opinion.
3) What is your impression of how fans of other teams perceive the Patriots, now?
Parkman: They hate the Patriots. They hated them before Spygate because of their on field success. Champions in just about any sport are globally hated when winning multiple titles. Spygate is throwing gas on the fire.
Leketa: No differently. Hearing from fans of other teams from all over the country each and every day, I hear the hatred and the animosity for the New England Patriots and its organization. I truly believe that if the Patriots were exonerated of all charges from top to bottom, the fans out there of other teams, will still hate this team through and through. It happened back in the day with the Steelers of the 70's, the 49ers of the 80's and the Cowboys of the 90's. When you win, people hate you and want to see you crash and burn.
Saleeba: Fans will always be jealous (or envious) of what other teams accomplish and what their team doesn't. I can identify with that. Growing up a Pats fans, I always wanted to see the Cowboys to lose. I took pleasure in the drug problems the Cowboys had in the 90's, because I knew it was a chink in their armor. That's all spy-gate is for the Patriots, a chink in the Pats armor. I now realize what a great team the Cowboys of the 90's are and what a great dynasty they were. But if it's not your team winning, you start to resent other teams success and you want to seem them go down. It's human nature.
Poore: I think fans of the other teams flat out despise the Patriots, and hope they lose every game. Truthfully, I can't blame them. All three of their Super Bowl wins will now be tainted, whether they deserve to be or not. And it isn't just about Spygate either. The team projects arrogance on the field. A player was suspended for violation of the substance abuse policy, and two others were arrected for drugs in the offseason. The Patriots have held a reputation as Holy Rollers, when it is in fact they'r emuch like everyone else. This bothers other fans and other teams. Maybe some of these issues are nobody's business, but when other fans and teams hear about it, it just adds fuel to an already well lit fire.
Scott: When I first started covering the Patriots in 2001 for this network, the sentiment about the Patriots was - if they can do it, good for them. I think the feel good story has died. Bitter rivals have emerged, and not just due to close games. There is some bad blood out there. Ironically, other than the Jets (and possibly the Colts), few fans held a strong opinion of the team during their Super Bowl run, other than "they're just really good." Now you can't go anywhere outside of New England without hearing a strong comment (mostly negative) about the organization or the coach. It may have to do with winning, but the videotaping issue has really hurt this organization far more profoundly than I think they understand. Even non-football fans associate "cheating" with the Patriots now. That's unfortunate for the players, fans and coaches who had nothing to do with the issue.
4) What do you think the Patriots need to do to put this videotaping issue behind them for 2008?
Parkman: Just win baby. (Sorry Al). Belichick and the Patriots staff may want to be a little more media friendly so they can be seen in a different light by the same media who sometimes influences fans.
Leketa: They need to start the 2008-09 football season. Right now we are in a lull in the action on the gridiron. Nobody has anything else to do except pick apart this franchise and all of its moves, especially with media outlets keeping it on the forefront of the fan's minds. Once the season starts it will be put on back burner ... at least until they play the Jets again.
Saleeba: Just win baby!
Poore: I think one thing that needs to be done is have Robert Kraft say something. He has been very quiet during this entire Spygate scandal. I find it incredibly hard to believe that he had no idea what was going on. I think he is just as responsible as anyone else, perhaps more so as the owner of the team. His high profile coach betrayed him, probably lied to him and others, and the owner kept mum. I find that very interesting. I think Kraft took a big [public relations] hit to his reputation during this Spygate scandal, and he hasn't done enough to get it back. I don't think the team can really do much else. They are trying to put it behind them and nobody else is letting them. That again shows the hatred for the team.
Scott: I'm not sure. I think the videotaping stigma will follow the head coach wherever he goes. To move on in 2008, the team needs to re-connect with fans and repair relationships. The lock-down, anti-media mentality isn't helping them as evidenced by the increasing number of columns from around the country. A more open policy might help. Winning always helps. By the time the 2008 regular season rolls around, most of the videotaping controversy will be behind us - hopefully - as fans look forward to what will happen in 2008. Here's looking forward to those days.
The Patriots Insider roundtable consists of a group of longtime contributors to the website. We will host roundtable discussions on the boards at PatriotsInsider.com, on the Patriots Insider Radio show, and through these roundtable Q&A articles. If you have a question you would like the group to address, be sure to send it in HERE: Email Patriots Insider We will choose a number of fan questions to answer in each roundtable.