Sunday, March 9, 2008
Report: Specter wants Goodell to publicly release letters sent to Walsh
ESPN.com news services
Sen. Arlen Specter isn't buying what Roger Goodell is selling when it comes to how the NFL commissioner is handling the Spygate controversy.
The Pennsylvania Republican, according to a published report, doesn't think the NFL really wants to speak to former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh. To prove the NFL is being genuine, Specter wants Goodell to release letters exchanged between the league and Walsh's attorneys, The New York Times reported.
"I'd like to issue a challenge to the commissioner to make public the extensive exchange of correspondence between the league's lawyers and Walsh's lawyers," Specter told the newspaper.
Specter took issue with how any potential new evidence would be handled in the case.
"Any objective or accurate reading of the correspondence would show the NFL is trying to discourage Walsh from coming forward," Specter told the Times. "Especially the requirement in the letter, where the NFL calls for the destruction of whatever Walsh turns over without any provision for me or anyone else to see it."
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Goodell is proposing enacting easier-to-impose cheating penalties as a deterrent to similar future scandals.
The Post cited a memo sent to the league's competition committee Thursday and said the proposals included a change in rules that would allow league officials to make unannounced inspections of locker rooms, press boxes and in-game communications equipment.
The measure was among a series of changes to make rules stricter that Goodell wants to enact before next season "to preserve the integrity of the game" and "maintain public confidence" in the sport, according to the memo.
"As the Commissioner and Competition Committee, we must take every appropriate step to safeguard the integrity of the NFL," Goodell wrote. "We have already taken some positive and significant actions this past season, but we must go further to ensure fair competition amongst our 32 teams and maintain public confidence in our game."
Goodell pledged stricter penalties for competition-rules violations and proposed a plan requiring team employees to give the league reports of "actual or suspected" violations.
Another measure would place each franchise's main owner, top executive and head coach under the threat of league discipline to stipulate that they have complied with the rules and reported violations.
"I think there are a number of steps that should be taken in advance of the start of the 2008 season to improve and strengthen the enforcement procedures designed to preserve the competitive integrity of the game," Goodell wrote, adding that "too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking."
Last month, Specter questioned the quality of the NFL's investigation of the Patriots' videotaping practices and Goodell's decision to destroy video evidence uncovered by the league earlier this season.
Goodell fined New England coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and docked the team $250,000 and a first-round draft pick after the Patriots were accused of videotaping New York Jets defensive coaches as they signaled to players in the Sept. 9 season opener.
Specter also cited NFL officials' indicating the Patriots had taped Pittsburgh Steelers' coaches during AFC championship games at the end of the 2001 and 2004 seasons and during regular-season games in '02 and '04.