Spygate: the Denouement

Mike DussaultSenior Analyst IMay 13, 2008

This morning, former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally had their long-awaited sit down, and it looks like, as far as the Commish is concerned, Spygate is over. Whether or not the media allows that to happen remains to be seen, as the articles start to pour into the "professional" sports websites.

Ultimately, the media are the ones who come out of this drawn-out witch-hunt looking worse than the Patriots. They were the ones trying to make Spygate into another 1919 Black Sox cheating scandal.

Unfortunately for them, every necessary detail was known back in September when the punishment was first levied on the Pats. Every "new development" since was neither "new" nor a "development".

There were false accusations by secret sources, and a grandstanding Senator, with links to a corporation, with an axe to grind with the NFL. Neither could alter the facts of Spygate, no matter how hard the media tried. The story simply boils down to the Patriots broke the rules and were significantly punished for it.

Usually in life, when you pay your punishment, you are forgiven and allowed to move on. I guess that's unless you've been handing out beat downs to the rest of the NFL for nearly a decade. Opposing fans and the media wanted this story to be bigger than it really was, and now they have run out of fuel for their fire.

The Commish will not be giving any further punishment based on what Matt Walsh told him this morning (at least as far as Spygate is concerned, there might be a fine for a player on IR practicing in 2001. Big whoop).

Later today, Senator Arlen Specter will come out with his comments after meeting with Walsh. Assuming it is consistent with what he told Roger Goodell, this should be the end. Of course, Mike Fish of ESPN is probably already hard at work grasping at straws for what he sees as an inconsistency. Hopefully we just won't ever hear from him again on the matter.

I am sure even Matt Walsh is ready for Spygate to be over. When the story first broke, the Patriots handed over tapes from 2006 and early 2007. As far as the public knew, this was the only evidence disclosed, and Walsh probably felt the tapes he had, that proved the practice went back to 2001, might be of some value.

What Walsh didn't know was the Goodell had assumed the tapes went back to the start of Belichick's tenure. When Goodell made this clear in early 2008, Walsh must've realized he actually had nothing. Thus, this three-month long media frenzy that has ebbed and flowed directly in proportion to how much NFL news was going on at the time has been a long wait for nothing.

The question we're left to ponder is who is John Tomase's source that said the Rams walk-through was taped? He obviously felt good enough about it to run the story, the day before the Super Bowl no less, when it was guaranteed to get national attention. I wouldn't be surprised if even his fellow journalists turn on him and demand an explanation. Without him, this story would've probably died when it should've. Now the media looks foolish, and for once they can't blame Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

It's a relief for Patriots fans everywhere that this whole ordeal is finally over and we can go back to enjoying one of the greatest runs in NFL history. Personally, I am impressed with Goodell's handling of it. Though the penalty was harsh, he has been consistent throughout in the face of a media firestorm that wanted heads to roll.

Now we wait and see what spin the media will put on it, or if they'll do what they should and let the whole story die.