Weatherford Democrat

May 19, 2008

Column: It’s over... let it go

Matt DeWalt

The Matt Walsh, New England Patriots, Spygate issue seemed to have come to some sort of resolution Tuesday when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference to inform the media and the general public that after meeting with Walsh, no new evidence was found and no new information about the video taping practices of the Patriots came to light.

While we all will forever sit back and play conspiracy theorist about the whole incident and the validity of the accomplishments of the New England football team since Bill Belichick took over, the fact is, we will never really know. For all we know, Walsh may have had more information and more damning evidence of the Patriots and their use of the infamous practice and signal tapes, but money has a way of making everything better. Again, no one, but Walsh and a few people with the New England franchise, will ever know the truth.

That being said, much like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero and most recently, Roger Clemens, in the court of public opinion, the Patriots, their coach and many of their players will forever be labeled as cheaters. They will always have to field questions about Spygate throughout the rest of their respective careers and any major accomplishment will always be in question. It will probably be one of the first issues that is deliberated about when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is up for the Hall of Fame. That’s the way this whole thing works. The team has been punished, Belichick has been punished and the players will continue to be punished.

The good thing for New England, the people that pay to attend the games are the ones who will always believe whatever the Patriots press team releases, so there’s no damage there. As long as Bostonians have a football team, no matter how good or how bad, they will love and cherish that team. Look at Manny Ramirez. He’s a great hitter, but as a baseball player, he lacks in many areas. He can’t play the field very well. His arm is less than enviable and the amount of effort he exudes on the basepaths is almost laughable. However, he is a member of the Red Sox and he is beloved by much, if not all, of the Northeast. That’s just what they do with their teams and sports figures. They love them no matter what, and there’s something to be said for that.

But even with all this Spygate information seemingly coming to a close, one person wants to drag it out even longer. Why? Because he needs to have his name attached to something that will make him a person remembered. How many people, outside of the political world, had ever heard of Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter before he started branching out into the world of sports? Let’s be honest, there’s not a whole lot of senators who sit in the forefront of our minds when it comes to historical recollection. That’s why Specter is trying to keep Spygate alive.

Specter said in his media address Wednesday that he thought the NFL and it’s Spygate issue with the Patriots should be investigated the same way that steroids in baseball was investigated by former senator [odd] George Mitchell. No, it shouldn’t. Steroids are an illegal substance if used without a prescription. That is a violation of a law. Someone cheating by “misinterpreting the rules” is not going to cause death or violent attacks and while it is immoral, is not against any federal law. Specter’s big push was about the lesson the professional athletes, coaches and franchises are teaching our kids. Isn’t that what parents are for? Aren’t we supposed to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong? He also used the example that high school and college kids would learn to cheat. No. Pretty sure they know how to cheat, but it is up to their coaches who work with them on a day-to-day basis to teach them that through hard work and dedication you accomplish your goals. Not through cheating. In fact, the whole issue surrounding Spygate, Belichick and the Patriots could be used as a teaching tool for most coaches.

Specter needs something to link himself to because he seems to need the attention. After his time as senator he probably wants to write a book and needs some fodder for the pages, but this is ridiculous. He has spent all his time focusing on the NFL, while gas prices are climbing at a steady pace, we still have troops overseas and we have a presidential campaign that has been building and building and is charging toward November.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are a lot of other things Senator Specter could be and should be doing with his time. Every company has flaws, no one is perfect. The government stepped in on the steroids in baseball issue because it seemed that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was content with the way the game was and that nothing was going to be done about the issue. Goodell in every instance has shown that he is a no-nonsense commissioner and that anyone who does anything in anyway to embarrass or shame the NFL or its image will be punished.

Specter needs to return to his desk, drop the sports pages in the trash and get focused on issues that affect the American public every day. Let Goodell handle the NFL issues.