Who's to Blame?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says that he's officially closed the books on "Spygate," but why won't the scandal go away?  Bill offers a few thoughts...

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, has done his best to move his corporation past the transgressions of the New England Patriots. He’s fined Pats Head Coach Bill Belichick $500,000, fined the team an additional $250,000, and snatched away a first-round draft choice from the franchise as well. Matt Walsh, formerly employed by the Patriots as a video assistant, has done his best to keep the story of what he illegally did on behalf of his former employer in the news. After Goodell and Walsh met on Tuesday, the commissioner announced that what he’d learned from Walsh was “consistent with what we disciplined the Patriots for last fall.” In other words, move along. Nothing to see here. Walsh went directly from Commissioner Goodell’s office to a meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector, who subsequently accused the commissioner of failing to conduct an objective investigation because of a “conflict of interest” arising, Spector said, because the commissioner didn’t want the public to lose confidence in the integrity of the NFL Senator Specter went on to characterize the commissioner’s alleged investigation of the Patriots’ trespasses as “incomprehensible” and “an insult to the intelligence” of people following the story. Matt Walsh subsequently told HBO’s Andrea Kremer that Bill Belechick and the Patriots had knowingly violated the league’s rules about videotaping opponents for years. As evidence, he claimed team officials had told him how to avoid being caught while he was making the illegal tapes. You can’t blame Roger Goodell for wanting people to believe that the so-called Spygate saga is no story at all. He’s a business man. He wants fans buying tickets, television packages, and team merchandise and discussing trades and draft picks, not wondering to what extent cheating helped the Patriots become one of the league’s most successful franchises. You can’t blame Arlen Spector for challenging the commissioner. He’s a politician. He represents a state full of football fans who root for two of the teams that have allegedly been victimized by the conniving Pats. And you certainly can’t blame Matt Walsh for not going away. There may be a book deal in this mess…or at least a reality TV show…if he can keep the buzz buzzing.
We have been party to the creation of a culture in which winning is profitable enough so that cheating is worth the risk, in which maintaining a league’s image is more important than establishing its integrity, in which, for a politician, any publicity is good publicity, and in which the achievement of notoriety by an individual, no matter by what means, is a good career move. Blame us.

Headshot of Bill Littlefield

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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