Call it a shock, relief, or just the expected development to end a ridiculous "controversy." Whatever lingering fear there was that golf pro and former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh might have possessed a Spygate smoking gun is a distant memory. As it turns out, he’s got nothing that the NFL already didn’t know about.
See, this is where the Patriots need someone like Charles Steinberg. The former Red Sox maestro would have spun up a grand delivery of the tapes to the league’s offices knowing that the team’s name had been cleared, trumpets greeting the FedEx arrival in downtown Manhattan.
The Patriots will instead probably release a terse statement acknowledging the entire situation has come to a close, finally, with the underlying message quite clear: You are all in trouble.
Unless you deeply believe a conspiracy theory that involves the Patriots paying Walsh a settlement under the table to destroy evidence of the Rams walkthrough back in 2002, prior to New England’s Super Bowl win, it’s time to file this whole silly affair away.
Or unless you’re, say, Mike Fish.
The ESPN.com Spygate pusher still believes that the tapes Walsh turned over to the league can be damaging to the Patriots. Fish writes: “Now, that list is growing. So, too, are the questions. Between what the Patriots revealed in September and Walsh's new evidence, as many as 11 teams could have been spied on by New England. Is the league now compelled to identify them all? And now that new evidence has surfaced, do we believe the Patriots really turned over everything they had back in September?”
I don’t know. Maybe we ought to excavate the new Patriots Place facility to find out if the team’s top men buried the Rams walkthrough beneath Circuit City. Gregg Easterbrook already has his shovel.
There is some delicious irony in the following quote from Walsh’s attorney (told to the New York Times) appearing beneath John Tomase’s byline: “Mr. Walsh has never been the source of any of the media speculation about such a tape…Mr. Walsh was not the source for the Feb. 2 Boston Herald article.”
It was, of course, the Herald that ran with the story the day before Super Bowl XLII that said a “member of the team’s video department filmed the Rams’ final walkthrough before that 2002 game.” It was widely assumed that “source” was Walsh. Guess not.
This could all be the ultimate case of talking out of one’s rear, the end game of an embellishment gone all wrong. Who hasn’t entertained friends with tales of enhancement while on the golf course. Now, imagine you’re Matt Walsh and have to tell the same stories over and over again on the greens of Hawaii.
Here is what Walsh has reportedly delivered to the league:
Wait, that last one was Paul Rudd’s tape collection.
In any case, the contents of the package that Goodell receives today will look an awful lot like what he decided to destroy back in September, as if they were a reminder of his attempt to kill them in the first place. (“But ... I thought you were dead ...”) As far as the tape that folks suspected might cause the commissioner to level further penalties on the Patriots? It doesn’t exist. Or at least, Walsh doesn’t appear to have it.
It is the Honus Wagner card, the Loch Ness of this whole ridiculous affair. It is either incredibly difficult to find or it doesn’t exist.
It will be interesting to see how Sen. Arlen Specter proceeds in his quest to do the country good by getting to the bottom of Spygate. After all, what kind of country would we live in if a football coach got away with practices that many of his colleagues admitted to also doing (Jimmy Johnson: Everybody does it.). The fact that I paid $3.65 for a gallon of gas this morning can quite obviously wait until we solve the far-ranging human affairs regarding sideline signal taping.
Walsh is scheduled to meet face-to-face with the senator, as well as Goodell, next week, which should prove pretty interesting discussions. Somewhere along the lines of “My Dinner With Andre,” except even more painstakingly boring. Maybe now Specter can turn his attention to the sincerely more relevant tape scandal on our plate. I mean, what do Spencer and Heidi have on Lauren anyway? Come on, Arlen.
There will be lingering criticism for sure from the likes of those who just want something else to come out of all this besides the penalty of a No. 1 draft pick. But they will be the last, desperate souls trying to hang on. Spygate is over. Matt Walsh is officially irrelevant. He has nothing to damage the Patriots any further. Only the conspiracy theorists will be on the story now.
I, for one, would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for a tremendous waste of time. All for nothing.