THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Goodell wants Walsh evidence

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / April 3, 2008

PALM BEACH, Fla. - While the NFL looks to smoothly transition to the 2008 season, commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday he remains committed to an important item of unfinished business from last season - discovering what Matt Walsh knows about the Patriots' videotaping procedures.

Walsh, who worked in the team's video department before he was fired in 2003, has suggested he has information that could be damaging to the Patriots.

"I believe when somebody has made an accusation like this, it's important for us to get to the bottom of it," Goodell said at the conclusion of the league's annual meeting. "I don't like anybody putting out accusations against the league or any of our clubs, which he certainly implied, if he hadn't said."

Goodell's tone was a bit more forceful over the last few days, perhaps reflecting that the league is looking to put some heat on Walsh. Earlier in the week here, Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft also came out firing, questioning why Walsh has yet to speak despite having no confidentiality agreement.

Jeff Pash, the league's chief attorney, said yesterday negotiations between the NFL and Walsh continue, noting the sides speak "maybe not every day, but more than once a week."

"It's just a complicated thing," Pash said. "He feels that he's sailing in uncharted waters for him and he's hired a very, very capable guy, a guy who is doing his very best to make sure that he can give him all the protection that he thinks he needs."

Pash indicated the protection includes making sure Walsh would not be sued. Pash does not believe the issue of Walsh keeping any evidence or covering legal expenses is a holdup, nor is the ability to profit.

"I think if he wanted to go out and sell his story, he would have been actively involved in trying to do so by now," Pash said.

Walsh's lawyer, Michael Levy, declined comment Tuesday.

Walsh's role with the Patriots surfaced in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLII Feb. 3, when he suggested he had more information regarding the videotaping procedures that led the NFL to strip the team of its 2008 first-round draft choice, and fine coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000.

While the NFL had indicated the penalty was for the totality of the Patriots' conduct, it was not revealed that the team's taping procedures dated to 2000 until after the Super Bowl, when Goodell met with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who has been critical of the league's handling of the situation.

Speaking privately to the league's owners and head coaches Tuesday, Kraft apologized for his team's videotaping flap. Yet the issue of videotaping has lingered based on what he feels are "damaging accusations" that the team filmed the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. On Feb. 2, the Boston Herald reported, according to a source, a Patriots employee taped the walkthrough.

Goodell repeated yesterday that if new information becomes available, he reserves the right to reopen the case against the Patriots.

"But the reality of it, we haven't had any, for seven months," he said. "If it's just taping of defensive signals, we know that. The Patriots admitted to that. He seems to imply that he has something different and certainly something that I would be concerned with if it's true. So I'd like to see the evidence."

Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Mike Reiss can be reached at mreiss@globe.com.

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