Paul Domowitch | Goodell: Not out to erase Patriots episode

PROBABLY BECAUSE he's not a lawyer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has acted with amazing swiftness in addressing many of the league's issues during his first year-and-change as its czar.

But a lot of people in the league felt he acted a little too swiftly in dealing with the whole Bill Belichick Spygate situation last month.

Goodell wasted little time in meting out punishment to Belichick and the Patriots - fines, forfeiture of a first-round draft pick next year, but no suspension - and wasted even less time taking a match to all of the tapes and other materials he asked the Patriots to give him regarding their covert videotaping activities under Mr. Hoody.

Almost like there was something else there that he didn't want us to see. Almost like he wanted this whole thing forgotten as quickly as possible.

But Goodell insisted earlier this week that nothing could be further from the truth.

"We didn't sweep it under the rug,'' he said during the league's 2-day fall meeting in Center City. "We're the ones who raised [the issue]. I don't agree with that assessment.

"We dealt with it forcefully, aggressively and effectively. The thing you want in a discipline is to make sure it doesn't happen again and that the other clubs understand there are very significant consequences if the policies are violated. I think that message was sent.

"We also wanted to send a message to our fans; to [assure them] that all teams are playing by the same rules."

Goodell said it was his intention "from the get-go" to destroy all of the tapes, documents and other records related to the case after he went through them.

"We said we wanted the materials destroyed because we didn't want anyone to have that material or the notes that could have come out of that," he said. "We went ahead and did that as we expected to do. And everything we found was consistent with what we thought."

Goodell said they found nothing in the tapes and documents to indicate the Patriots had used illegal videotaping during their three Super Bowl victories.

 

Around the league

-- The Bills' interest in playing one regular-season game in Toronto each year beginning in 2008 is not about an eventual move across the border, but rather an attempt to spur sales in suites and club seats at its stadium to southern Ontario businesses. Roger Goodell said he has spoken to CFL commissioner Mark Cohon to see how he feels about the Bills playing a game in Toronto, which has a CFL team, the Argonauts. "I assured him that we continue to have a great interest in the CFL and its continued viability," Goodell said. "We certainly want to understand the impact it might have, and have greater discussions with the CFL and the promoters of the game in Toronto. I'm sure we would do it in a way that is responsive and continue to promote CFL football." In other words, fans will not be allowed to hang banners at the game that say "Death to the CFL."

-- The Bills' interest in playing one regular-season game in Toronto each year beginning in 2008 is not about an eventual move across the border, but rather an attempt to spur sales in suites and club seats at its stadium to southern Ontario businesses. Roger Goodell said he has spoken to CFL commissioner to see how he feels about the Bills playing a game in Toronto, which has a CFL team, the Argonauts. "I assured him that we continue to have a great interest in the CFL and its continued viability," Goodell said. "We certainly want to understand the impact it might have, and have greater discussions with the CFL and the promoters of the game in Toronto. I'm sure we would do it in a way that is responsive and continue to promote CFL football." In other words, fans will not be allowed to hang banners at the game that say "Death to the CFL."

-- At its fall meeting this week, the owners made some changes to the draft, including moving the third round to Sunday and reducing the selection time for picks in the first two rounds. The owners considered the possibility of putting all or some of the first round in prime time on Friday, but decided against it. "At this point, we don't think it's the right move," Goodell said. "We think Saturday is a better time for us. I don't anticipate that in the short term."

-- The league is expected to play two regular-season games overseas next year. One likely will be in London again. The other is expected to be played in Germany. While several owners have expressed interest in having their teams play a regular-season game overseas, Jerry Jones isn't one of them. "I don't think it's for the Cowboys," he said this week. "It's really not for us. There are plenty of [other] teams that will volunteer for that."

-- It's become pretty apparent that Marion Barber is the go-to back in Dallas now, rather than Julius Jones. The punishing Barber had 19 carries for 96 yards Sunday against the Vikings, compared to nine for 28 by Jones. Eleven of Barber's carries came in the fourth quarter, when he gained 67 yards. For the season, he's gained 232 of his 479 yards in the fourth quarter on 32 carries. Jones has just 74 fourth-quarter yards on 20 carries. "He's a powerful inside runner and you want to hammer it inside as much as you can late in the game," coach Wade Phillips said. "He's the type of guy, if the team is worn down a little bit, he can punish them."

 

This and that

-- If it's any consolation to Eagles fans, and it's probably not, the Cowboys aren't getting much from Anthony Spencer, the linebacker they got in the first round last spring with the pick the Eagles traded to them. Spencer started the Cowboys' first six games while Greg Ellis was recovering from a knee injury, and had 20 tackles and one sack. Last week, Ellis replaced him and played 46 of 49 snaps against the Vikings.

-- If it's any consolation to Eagles fans, and it's probably not, the Cowboys aren't getting much from , the linebacker they got in the first round last spring with the pick the Eagles traded to them. Spencer started the Cowboys' first six games while was recovering from a knee injury, and had 20 tackles and one sack. Last week, Ellis replaced him and played 46 of 49 snaps against the Vikings.

-- For those of you who think the Eagles are the only NFL team capable of making personnel mistakes, we bring you the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers thought they had uncovered the second coming of Devin Hester last April when they took Miami of Ohio wide receiver/return man Ryne Robinson in the fourth round. But he's been a bust so far. So much so that the Panthers brought in none other than ex-Eagle Jeremy Bloom for a workout this week.

-- Giants general manager Jerry Reese took a lot of criticism during the offseason when he released veteran left tackle Luke Petitgout and replaced him with guard David Diehl rather than sign an experienced tackle or draft Central Michigan's Joe Staley in the first round. But Diehl is doing just fine. He has allowed just one sack in the first seven games. A move that hasn't worked out quite as well for Reese was his decision to get rid of kicker Jay Feely and replace him with Lawrence Tynes. Tynes has missed two PATs and his poor kickoffs are a big reason for the team's coverage problems. Feely, meanwhile, has hit all 12 of his field goal attempts for his new team, the Dolphins, and has made an NFL-best 22 in a row dating back to last season.

 

By the numbers

-- The Eagles are eighth in the league in total offense (yards). But few teams have wasted their yards more. They are 25th in points per 100 yards (5.53). Take out the Lions game and that plummets to a league-worst 3.85.

-- The Eagles are eighth in the league in total offense (yards). But few teams have wasted their yards more. They are 25th in points per 100 yards (5.53). Take out the Lions game and that plummets to a league-worst 3.85.

-- The Redskins are 16-point underdogs this week against the Patriots. In 16 seasons as an NFL head coach, Joe Gibbs never has been a bigger underdog.

 

2-Minute drill

FROM THE LIP:

FROM THE LIP:

-- "Every guy that has ever taken an NFL snap at safety in the last 50 years, we're taking a look at. Maybe Ronnie Lott should start loosening up." - Dolphins coach Cam Cameron, who is looking for safety help.

-- "My frustration is everything wound up. It's like a thread and you can't pick them all apart at this point. I'm a knotted cluster. Before, it was frustrating, but now the fact I'm ready and capable of being who I am and not allowed to, it's brain strain." - Broncos defensive end Simeon Rice, who has been deactivated the last two games even though he claims his injured shoulder has healed.

-- "I didn't realize that when we win a purse, the ownership gets half of it and the driver gets the other half. I pay 400 people to work on his race car and he pays four to drive his mobile home and fly his airplane. I always get the wrong end of everything, man." - Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, on owning a NASCAR racing team.

LIE OF THE WEEK:

When the 1-6 Falcons released defensive tackle Grady Jackson this week, coach Bobby Petrino said it was strictly a football decision, even though Jackson was leading the defensive line in tackles, including 5 1/2 for losses. "It had absolutely nothing to do with anything but football," Petrino said. "It's just the way we wanted to go. We felt like, for our best opportunity to win games, this was the right move to make." I'm sure the fact that Jackson filed a lawsuit against the Falcons in the offseason claiming defamation and invasion of privacy caused by the release of his medical records, which revealed that he had failed a physical last summer, was not at all a factor. Jackson claimed it hurt his value on the free-agent market.

THUMBS DOWN:

To Broncos coach Mike Shanahan for his really stupid response to a question about wide receiver Brandon Marshall's DUI arrest this week. "Young kids make mistakes, and hopefully they learn from them," he said. "There's probably not a person in this [press] room that couldn't have been arrested some time for that." Uh, no Mike. Believe it or not, there are some reporters who take that whole "Don't drink and drive" thing seriously.

DOMO'S RANKINGS

1. Patriots 7-0 (1 last week)

2. Colts 7-0 (2)

3. Cowboys 6-1 (5)

4. Steelers 4-2 (3)

5. Packers 5-1 (7)

6. Chargers 3-3 (8)

7. Seahawks 4-3 (9)

8. Ravens 4-3 (4)

9. Giants 4-2 (15)

10. Jaguars 4-2 (6)

11. Redskins 4-2 (13)

12. Panthers 4-2 (12)

13. Chiefs 4-3 (16)

14. Broncos 3-3 (23)

15. Titans 4-2 (17)

16. Lions 4-2 (18)

17. Bucs 4-3 (10)

18. Cardinals 3-4 (14)

19. Bengals 2-4 (19)

20. Bears 3-4 (21)

21. EAGLES 2-4 (11)

22. Texans 3-4 (20)

23. Saints 2-4 (24)

24. Bills 2-4 (27)

25. Browns 3-3 (26)

26. Vikings 2-4 (25)

27. 49ers 2-4 (22)

28. Raiders 2-4 (28)

29. Jets 1-6 (29)

30. Rams 0-7 (30)

31. Falcons 1-6 (31)

32. Dolphins 0-7 (32)