NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Sen. Arlen Specter are to meet Wednesday to discuss the Spygate case involving the New England Patriots.
The NFL said Tuesday the afternoon meeting will take place in Specter's office in Washington. The Pennsylvania Republican has asked Goodell to explain his decision to destroy the tapes and notes from the case, which go back to 2002.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team was fined $250,000. The Patriots also forfeited a first-round draft pick.
Specter's challenge to Goodell came two days before the Super Bowl, lost by the Patriots to the New York Giants on Feb. 3.
The top-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the quality of the NFL investigation that followed the illegal taping of the New York Jets' defensive signals in the opening week of this season as well as the commissioner's decision to destroy video evidence uncovered by the league. He has raised the possibility of congressional hearings if he wasn't satisfied with Goodell's answers.
In defending the destruction of the notes, Goodell said "there was no purpose to them at all." Specter said Goodell's response "didn't make any sense at all" and also questioned whether there might have been illegal acts by the Patriots before the 2005 Super Bowl, when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
The punishment went beyond the confiscated Jets tapes. The tapes and notes dated as far back as 2002 and the NFL said in October that Belichick acknowledged to Goodell that there had been spying since he became New England's coach in 2000.
Last week at the Pro Bowl, Goodell was asked why only six tapes were confiscated by the NFL's security department.
"That's what they had," he replied. "My guess is that they taped over some of those from time to time. That's what video departments do. They did it more than six times because there were notes that reflected that."
NFL officials also said the investigation didn't find any illegal taping or other spying during the playoffs or the three Super Bowls the Patriots won in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Matt Walsh, the former Patriots assistant coach who performed some videotaping duties for the team, said last week during the Pro Bowl in Hawaii that he couldn't talk about allegations that he taped a walkthrough practice by the St. Louis Rams before the 2002 Super Bowl. New England, a two-touchdown underdog, won that game 20-17.
He would not say if he had been contacted by the league or by Specter's office.
"We were aware of this before," Goodell said, referring to 2002 allegations. "We pursued it and weren't able to get any information that was credible. We were aware of some of the rumors and we pursued some of them and we continue that. From Day 1, I said if we feel there is new information that's inconsistent with what we've been told (by the Patriots), I reserve the right to reopen it."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press