GLENDALE, Ariz. - As the Patriots played in their fourth Super Bowl under coach Bill Belichick last night, questions continued to be raised about the team's conduct prior to its first, a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.
Citing an unnamed source, the Boston Herald reported Saturday that the Patriots filmed the Rams' walkthrough the day before scoring one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history for their first championship.
Yesterday, former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, now with the Arizona Cardinals, and former Rams coach Mike Martz, now the San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator, told ESPN.com that the allegations are serious enough that if warranted, the league should investigate.
"I hope that is not true," Martz told ESPN.com. "I have great respect for Bill Belichick. It's hard to believe that is true. It's a serious allegation and I hope it is not true.
"Obviously, if there is enough substance to it, the league should look into it."
Both the NFL and the Patriots have denied there is any validity to the allegations, but Matt Walsh, a former Patriots video assistant, has implied to ESPN.com that he has potentially damaging evidence.
Yesterday, in an interview with
"We were aware of these allegations and rumors. We looked into them," said Goodell. "There's nothing to substantiate that. I do not know Matt Walsh and we certainly will talk to him if he has additional information, but I have not seen him indicate he has any information. We will certainly pursue it, though."
On the NFL Network's pregame show, former Rams running back Marshall Faulk said St. Louis featured its red-zone offense in the walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI. The Rams were 1 for 1 in the red zone, scoring on a 2-yard sneak by Warner in the fourth quarter. But that came after the Patriots forced a fumble on fourth and goal from the 3 that was returned for a touchdown, only to be nullified by a holding penalty on Willie McGinest.
"Maybe this did happen," said Faulk. "I had put this game behind me. All in all, it just brings out emotions that you really don't want to talk about or think about in that sense. I don't think there's anything you can do about it. If that's true, they got away with it. So be it."
The Patriots had their own suspicions prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. According to the pool report, assistant coach Pepper Johnson flagged down director of football operations Berj Najarian during practice and alerted him to an open window in a home that was within view of the Patriots' practice field. A telescope was allegedly visible from the window.
Meanwhile, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican from Pennsylvania, said he will continue to press for an explanation why the league destroyed the tapes it confiscated after the Week 1 Spygate scandal, and told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" yesterday that Goodell has agreed to meet with him.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the meeting, but said there was no time set. Goodell is scheduled to be in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
Goodell told Sirius he was confident in the league's initial investigation.
"We reviewed [the tapes] very closely. We know exactly what was on them," Goodell said. "We're willing to share that with Senator Specter and I'm comfortable that we did absolutely the right thing. All teams were playing at the same level. It's my job to protect the integrity of the NFL and I take it very seriously and I'm comfortable that we have done that successfully here."