ESPN Report Accuses Patriots of More Spying and Roger Goodell Assisting the Cover Up

Bradley Whitaker
(Photo: Getty)

It’s two days before the New England Patriots kick off the 2015 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and already there’s another scandal (who else is getting tired of this?).

A recent report from Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham of ESPN claims the Patriots have been bending the rules beyond just Spygate.

According to interviews with 90 sources (including former Patriots employees), Bill Belichick and the Pats videotaped signals from 40 different games between 2000 and 2007. But the most significant part of the report claims New England employees were actually sneaking into locker rooms and stealing play call sheets.

When the league was investigating the Patriots for Spygate, they apparently found a lot more evidence than was originally reported. ESPN believes commissioner Roger Goodell assisted in the cover up.

“Inside a room accessible only to Belichick and a few others, they found a library of scouting material containing videotapes of opponents' signals, with detailed notes matching signals to plays for many teams going back seven seasons. Among them were handwritten diagrams of the defensive signals of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the notes used in the January 2002 AFC Championship Game won by the Patriots 24-17. Yet almost as quickly as the tapes and notes were found, they were destroyed, on Goodell's orders: League executives stomped the tapes into pieces and shredded the papers inside a Gillette Stadium conference room.”

Former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz (who lost to New England during Belichick’s Super Bowl victory as head coach) asked Goodell for a “wider investigation,” but was told to cooperate with leagues findings, according to the report. That’s supposedly is the smoking gun for Goodell’s cover up.

“Martz says now that he returned Goodell's call from the 49ers' practice field. During a five-minute conversation, Martz recalls that the commissioner sounded panicked about Specter's calls for a wider investigation. Martz also recalls that Goodell asked him to write a statement, saying that he was satisfied with the NFL's Spygate investigation and was certain the Patriots had not cheated and asking everyone to move on — like leaders of the Steelers and Eagles had done.”

"He told me, 'The league doesn't need this. We're asking you to come out with a couple lines exonerating us and saying we did our due diligence,'" says Martz.

It’s hard to know what to make of the report. The Patriots have obviously faced many outrageous accusations over the years, but this report looks to be investigated more thoroughly than that time Michael Rosenberg accused them of all sorts of sh*t.

Although most will focus on the allegations against the Patriots and the league, Steve DelVecchio of Larry Brown Sports points out the report says New England’s “spying methods” weren’t very effective.

The Patriots issued a response shortly after the report came out:

It probably isn’t a coincidence the report came out two days before the start of the NFL season. Just remember, anyone that continues to get upset at the Patriots organization for spying is just rehashing old feelings from seven years ago about something nearly every team was participating in (only the Patriots were caught). But now fans from the other 31 teams have more reason the think New England beat them unfairly, and kids who were in kindergarten during the Spygate scandal now have something to complain about in their early teenage years.