Goodell keeps an open mind

Email|Print| Text size + By Pat Bigold
Globe Correspondent / February 7, 2008

HONOLULU - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday he "reserves the right" to reopen an investigation into charges the Patriots videotaped opponents' signals if credible new information is presented to his office.

Goodell spoke briefly prior to the AFC Pro Bowl squad's practice at Kapolei High School.

"From Day 1 I have said that if I find new information inconsistent with what we've been told, then I reserve the right to reopen that," he said. "If there's new material or information that's credible, then we'll look into it."

But Goodell made it clear he has not received anything new that would lead him to believe there is substance to any new reports about Patriots spying.

Reports circulated before last Sunday's Super Bowl that the Patriots had videotaped the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to the 2002 Super Bowl.

Former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh, now an assistant pro at Kaanapali Golf Course on Maui, has suggested he might have evidence that New England was spying before he left the team in January 2003. But Walsh has been unwilling to divulge what he has until he receives certain protections against potential legal action.

Goodell said discussions with Walsh's lawyers have just begun and it's not clear what, if anything, Walsh might be asking for in return for his cooperation.

Goodell said his staff is talking with the Patriots to determine whether Walsh is bound by any confidentiality clause that would prevent him from giving evidence against his former team.

"Our staffs are talking about that and we're making sure he's got the ability to talk and if he has any information that would be pertinent," said Goodell.

But Goodell said he is not even sure that Walsh signed a confidentiality agreement.

"Hopefully, we will get it resolved before the end of the week and then we'll be able to meet with him as soon as possible" said the commissioner.

Asked if he would attempt to meet with Walsh while in Hawaii, Goodell said no.

"It's between the lawyers right now to determine the conditions under which he would speak," said Goodell.

The Globe tried to contact Walsh at the Kaanapali pro shop but was informed by a co-worker that Walsh was not due back to work until today. The co-worker said Walsh attended the Super Bowl in Phoenix and he wasn't sure if Walsh was even back in Hawaii.

"We don't know if there is new information. That's the issue," said Goodell. "[Walsh's lawyers] don't know we know what we've looked at, what we've been able to gather through our own research. They don't know what we know and we don't know what they know."

Goodell said he might meet with Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as early as next week. Specter has expressed concern over the fact that six tapes seized from the Patriots were destroyed by the NFL.

Specter has said the matter could affect the NFL's antitrust exemption.

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