NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. AP Photo.
After emerging from a three-plus hour meeting with former video assistant Matt Walsh today in New York, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects no further punishment to be levied against the Patriots as a result of their involvement in the Camera-gate scandal and that the scandal had run its course.
Walsh originally turned over eight tapes of games ranging from 2000-2002 last Thursday (May 8) and Goodell played those for the media at the Intercontinental Hotel. The tapes displayed more of what the team was punished for last September – video of opposing coaches and the scoreboard listing down and distance – but no new information.
"Today, we were able to confirm that all of the details of [Matt Walsh's] activities while he was a Patriots employee … the fundamental information that Matt provided was consistent with what we disciplined the Patriots for last fall and that essentially they were taping coaches signals against NFL policy," Goodell said.
"We were also able to verify that there was no Rams walkthrough tape. No one asked him to tape the walkthrough. He's not aware of anybody else who may have taped the walkthrough. He had not seen such a tape. He does not know of anybody who says there is a tape. He was in the building at the time of the walkthrough along with other Patriots video personnel. They were doing their job prior to the game. He in fact was even on the sidelines in his Patriots gear while the Rams were practicing. So it was clear that there was not an overt attack addressing access into the Rams walkthrough."
The Patriots released a statement regarding the situation:
"We want to address the allegation that the Patriots taped the Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. For the past three-and-a-half months, we have been defending ourselves against assumptions made based on an unsubstantiated report rather than on facts or evidence. Despite our adamant denials, the report ran on February 2, 2008, the day before Super Bowl XLII. That game was the second-most watched program in television history and it is unfortunate that today's news will not also reach an audience of that size. We hope that with Matt Walsh's disclosures, everyone will finally believe what we have been saying all along and emphatically stated on the day of the initial report: 'The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 is absolutely false. Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.'"
The only revelations came when Goodell indicated there were a pair of allegations that will be further investigated. Those included a player on injured reserve practicing with the team, perhaps back in 2001, and a "non-competitive issue," which was the scalping of 8-12 Super Bowl tickets by players. Goodell said that he expected no further penalties against the team in light of the new information.
"I don't anticipate it," Goodell said. "As I said, I think the fundamental information provided today is consistent with what we knew last September, and that the discipline I took was unprecedented at that time, and I feel it was appropriate."
After the press conference finished, Goodell was walking to his car with the league's outside counsel Gregg Levy and remembered a piece of information he failed to disclose to the media. Levy then returned and gathered the group before delivering the following:
"Walsh was asked during the interview today whether after the [Rams] walkthrough, anyone asked him about what he had seen. He said 'yes.' He saw Brian Daboll, who I understand is an assistant coach for the Patriots -- or was at the time -- and Daboll asked him what he saw. Walsh said two things -- one, he had seen Marshall Faulk in a formation to receive a kickoff or a punt, and he had been asked about offensive formations, particularly about the use of the tight end. My understanding is that is not consistent with what we had learned prior to the interview, during the course of the investigation. At this point, it's uncorroborated, but it's something the league is going to look into."
Levy was then asked if this would result in any further sanctions and once again the answer was no but added that Goodell felt the information would be "worthwhile" for the media to have.
Goodell spoke for roughly 30 minutes after meeting for 3:15 with Walsh, who then left for Washington to meet with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Walsh did not speak in New York while his attorney, Michael Levy, briefly address the media only to say his client would wait until after the meeting in Washington to discuss the situation.
As was the case when his original ruling was handed down back in September, Goodell seemed eager to put an end to the ordeal while leaving open the possibility of revisiting the situation should the need arise.
"I don't know where else I would turn," Goodell said, "but I reserve the right to review new information if it comes up."