UPDATED: The Boston Herald issued an apology to the Patriots on Wednesday and ran the headline, "Sorry, Pats" on the front page.
Topping my list today of People I Wouldn’t Want To Be is John Tomase.
Tomase is the Boston Herald sports writer who broke the story earlier this year that a member of the New England Patriots’ video department illegally taped the St. Louis Rams’ final walk-through practice prior to the Patriots’ 20-17 win over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
The Patriots have spent the last 3 ½ months vehemently denying the report, and Tomase and the Herald have spent the last 3 ½ months standing by their story.
Now, it looks like Tomase and his newspaper are going to have to write a retraction.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finally got his sit-down with former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh Tuesday. But Walsh didn’t really tell Goodell anything that the commish didn’t already know about the Patriots’ involvement in Spygate. And he definitely didn’t tell Goodell that he taped that infamous Super Bowl walk-through.
“We were able to verify that there was no Rams walk-through tape,’’ Goodell said. “No one asked him to tape the walk-through. He’s not aware of anyone else who may have taped the walk-through. And he has not seen such a tape. And he does not know of anybody who says there is such a tape.’’
The Herald’s story wasn’t totally wrong. Walsh admitted to Goodell that he was on the field at the New Orleans Superdome during the Rams’ walk-through with other Patriots video department personnel setting up equipment and cables for the next day’s game. But he said neither he nor anyone else taped the practice.
He did tell Goodell that he passed along some observations on what he saw to Patriots wide receivers coach Brian Daboll, but that was it.
"He said he was in the building at the time of the walk-through along with other Patriots video personnel,’’ Goodell said. ``They were doing their job prior to the game. He, in fact, was even on the sidelines in his Patriots gear while the Rams were practicing. So, it was clear there was not an overt attempt to access the Rams’ walk-through.’’
Why the Rams and their head coach at the time, Mike Martz, didn’t tell Walsh and the rest of the Patriots’ video crew to make like Elvis and leave the building is a story for another day.
Last January, Walsh, now an assistant golf pro in Hawaii , hinted to the New York Times that he had damning evidence against head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Turns out he had bubkis. He admitted to illegally taping the sideline signals of opposing coaches and even turned over eight tapes of doing just that. But the Patriots were long ago tried and convicted of that crime.
There were only two things that Walsh could have told Goodell that would have shed new light on Spygate and left the Patriots open to further discipline. One would have been that he taped that Rams walk-through practice.
The other would have been that that the Patriots illegally taped opposing coaches’ signals during the first halves of their Super Bowl appearances and then deciphered the information at halftime and used it to their advantage in the final two quarters.
Belichick has steadfastly insisted that he never used the information from taping signals in the same game that he taped them. It would be hard to do in the NFL’s short 14-minute halftime window. But Super Bowl halftimes are considerably longer.
As I noted last year, the Patriots’ offense was considerably more productive in the second halves of all three of their Super Bowl victories, including Supe 39 against the Eagles, than it was in the first halves.
But none of the eight tapes Walsh turned over to the NFL were from their Super Bowl wins. And Walsh insisted that he never turned over the tapes to Patriot higher-ups until after the game was over.
“He was very specific that the tapes remained in his possession the entire game, and that they were not used during the (same) game,’’ Goodell said.
So, this finally appears to be the end of Spygate, though we have yet to hear from
Arlen Specter, who might be able to find another magic bullet theory to keep this baby alive. Specter met with Walsh this afternoon in Washington, but canceled his news conference because the meeting was still going. Specter and Walsh are both expected to address the media Wednesday.
But as far as Goodell is concerned, the case is closed.
“As I stand before you today after having met with Matt Walsh and 50 other people, I don’t know where else I would turn,’’ he said. ``I specifically asked Matt that and he said he didn’t know of anyone else who may have information. As I’ve said before, I’ve reserved the right, if anything further comes up, I will look at it.’’