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Walsh has tapes, but not of walkthrough

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / May 8, 2008

Former Patriots employee Matt Walsh certified in writing that he will turn over eight stolen videotapes to the NFL that show the signals of opposing teams, but the smoking gun that some believed Walsh might provide - a tape of the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 - is not included.

As part of Walsh's certification, he signed off that all videotapes and documents in his possession - from 2000-02 - have been handed over to the NFL, eliminating the possibility he has a tape of the walkthrough.

The NFL has not yet seen the tapes, only the certification letter. The tapes will be delivered to the league office today.

Under an agreement between the NFL and Walsh, today marked the deadline for Walsh to turn over all materials in his possession that related to the Patriots' videotaping of opponents.

As part of the agreement, the Patriots agreed not to pursue legal action against Walsh as long as he returned the stolen tapes and boxes of stolen memorabilia, and speaks truthfully with commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday in New York.

According to the certification document obtained by the Globe, the tapes include:

Signals from Dolphins coaches in a game Sept. 24, 2000.

Offensive and defensive signals of Dolphins coaches from a game Oct. 7, 2001.

Signals from Bills coaches from a Nov. 11, 2001, game.

Signals from Browns coaches from a game Dec. 9, 2001.

Two tapes of signals from Steelers coaches from the 2001 AFC Championship game, held Jan. 27, 2002.

Signals from Chargers coaches from a game Sept. 29, 2002.

Yet perhaps more noteworthy than what Walsh will provide to the NFL is what he won't - the tape of the Rams' walkthrough.

The Boston Herald, citing an anonymous source, reported Feb. 2 that a Patriots employee had filmed the walk through, which the Patriots strongly denied. Walsh's lawyer, Michael Levy, told the New York Times yesterday that Walsh - who worked for the team from 1997-2003 - was not the source for the article.

In early April, Goodell said that if Walsh provided a tape of the Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI, he would consider additional penalties against the Patriots.

Goodell explained that the league's penalty against the Patriots early last season was for the totality of the team's videotaping actions, and that coach Bill Belichick acknowledged he had videotaped opposing signals since the start of his Patriots head coaching career.

If Walsh had new information, Goodell reiterated that he was committed to seeing it.

"If it's just taping of defensive signals, we know that," Goodell said April 2 at the NFL's annual meeting in Palm Beach, Fla. "The Patriots admitted to that. He seems to imply that he has something different and certainly something I would be concerned with if it's true. So, I'd like to see the evidence."

Yet when that evidence was delivered yesterday, it included nothing in addition to what Goodell and the league had previously seen, which led to the NFL stripping the Patriots of their 2008 first-round draft choice, and fines of $500,000 for Belichick and $250,000 for the team. The penalty came after the 2007 season opener in which the Patriots were caught filming the signals of Jets coaches.

"This is consistent with what the Patriots had admitted they had been doing, consistent with what we already knew," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail last night.

The Patriots, through spokesman Stacey James, said they are withholding comment at this time.

Belichick has steadfastly denied that the Patriots taped the Rams' walkthrough, and owner Robert Kraft also came out strongly against the Herald report.

"A newspaper made a damaging allegation about the so-called Matt Walsh affair. I believe it's something that never happened," Kraft said during the NFL's annual meeting March 31. "If so, why wouldn't - two months later - anything have come out? But we live in a society where people can make any kind of allegations. But then, it has to be substantiated."

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