I set out to write a column answering reader e-mails that would address a wide range of NFL topics.
However, when I opened my mail box today, I found an overwhelming number of letter-writers were interested in only one subject: My piece on Senator Arlen Specter's call for an independent investigation of the NFL's handling of the New England Patriots' videotaping scandal.
About half of the e-mails agreed with my take that the federal government's involvement is unnecessary and that the league has sufficiently investigated the matter and punished the Patriots.
The other half of the letters shared Specter's view.
Opinions were strong on both sides of the issue -- strong enough that I thought a representative sampling should be shared:
Finally, an article on the "Spygate" affair that places logic over hype, facts over sensationalism. No one argues that the Patriots were breaking rules, but this week's actions from the likes of Senator Specter and Matt Walsh to influential talk show hosts like Mike and Mike were just plain out of line. Before Matt Walsh met with Commissioner Roger Goodell, they all said it was about a walk-through tape. When there was no walk-through tape, they made it about something else. There is a sick kind of feeding frenzy that developed around this whole affair and it's time we called the witch hunters out for what they are. Thank you! --Kevin T.
Take your head out of the sand, Vic. The NFL mishandled this from the very beginning. And to say otherwise is complete BS. I'm a big fan of the NFL, more specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roger Goodell should have NEVER destroyed those tapes in the first place. Sen. Specter has every right to further investigate this matter for the NFL and for the fans who buy its product. One first-round draft pick and $750,000 in fines aren't enough if there's more evidence. --Steve R.
Great article. I think Specter wants to be the next Mitchell, but is beating a dead horse here. I'm more concerned with Congress helping out with the gas crises or something more important than discussing how to penalize a game of millionaires. --Sanchez F.
Your article on the NFL handling this correctly is way off base. Why did they destroy all those tapes? They are just doing damage control and wishing this all goes away. The fact that the Patriots knew 75 percent of Tampa's plays is not a minor issue. If this were a college football team they would be banned from the playoffs for five years. What's done is done, but it's up to the NFL to insert stiffer controls going forward. Treating this as some sort of annoyance is not how this should be handled. --Dominic F.
"Specter's intentions seem honorable enough." What planet are you from? Specter is pandering to his two audiences: His Pennsylvania voting base and Comcast. Comcast is a major donor and supporter of Specter. He'll do anything as long as it is in the best interest of Comcast. Honorable? Not on this one. --Cary D.
Great column. Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm a Falcons fan and obviously have every reason in the world to be jealous of the Pats and want them brought down. But it's hard to see this as anything beyond Specter grandstanding. But please, please, please can we get a moratorium on the "Congress should do something about gas prices" comments any time congressional action is mentioned? It's tiresome, and the last thing we need is Congress messing with the free market. They can barely tie their shoes without costing taxpayers money. --Ted R.
The Patriots cheated, plain and simple. Goodell does not want it exposed to the level that it was. This is wrong. You can't go back in time, but I was tired of hearing Bill Belichick was a genius. I was one of the few who said he wasn't, and now the proof is there. Goodell gets excited about creating a competitive and even playing field for the NFL. This was clearly a case where it was neither. Teams are only a play, here and there, away from winning any game. What Belichick did was create a situation where he made sure those plays went his way. I see nothing less than a ban from the NFL for Belichick. --MicMac
I appreciated your article on Senator Specter's involvement in the aftermath of "Spygate," and the strong sense that he has reached the point of overkill. This consensus is shared by many, especially my friends and neighbors in Boston. Understandably, we have wanted to move past the video camera scandal for a long time. Our boys were caught, penalized, and lost the big dance. … The frustrating aspect for me, as both a fan of politics and the NFL, is similar to the anguish you expressed ("…finding a way for people to afford to drive to and from work each day"). There are more important issues out there that need solving. I do not care whether they come from Republicans, Democrats, or any other party, but I do care when someone with significant authority is wasting their power on the NFL. Commissioner Goodell has been extremely effective in policing the NFL. As fans of the NFL, we look for small acts of heroism on the football field, but as citizens of the United States of America, we look for great acts and heroes in our politicians. Specter is not acting like a villain, but he's doing nothing to help millions of Americans hoping for their votes to count for something more than pestering the NFL on issues that have just become "old news." --Samuel M.
You're not seeing this "Spygate" thing clearly. (Almost) everyone wants it to be over. But the commish (and you and Belichick) are handling it BADLY! And in doing so you all ARE unnecessarily threatening the integrity of the sport. The NFL (and you as its apologist) is coming across as thinking you're so big and powerful that no one can question you or your motives. The intention to protect the NFL by moving on quickly has been understandable, but the process has been so arbitrary and the stonewalling and prideful insistence that the NFL can do no wrong has fueled further speculation. How can you listen to a witness and then immediately hold a press conference to say you found nothing? Sounds like someone already planned on NOT finding anything. Open your eyes, Vic. If you want this to go away, start admitting the commish has handled this poorly from the beginning and demonstrate the NFL isn't trying to hide anything. Come on. --Curt
I thought your article was thoughtful, insightful and dead on. Does anybody really think that Specter's only concern is the integrity of the game? Instead we have a sore loser in the form of a Pittsburgh Steeler fan? Should Congress use their far-reaching power and influence to make their sports teams get more attention than they deserve? I may be a lowly engineer, but this whole thing stinks of politics. The fact that people like Mitchell and Specter use their power to undermine one team is indefensible. --Rob R.
While it is true that the NFL in general has handled its business well over the years, the case of the Patriots was not an example of NFL integrity. Too much of what was done happened in ways that would leave the average fan guessing about the NFL's intentions. While I applaud the very public and tough stance the NFL has taken on drug use, I fault it for mishandling the Patriots case. In this circumstance, we have evidence of long-term cheating, as well as efforts to hide it. The NFL basically slaps the Patriots on the wrist and says, "Bad toad; don't do it again." It appears now that the Patriots' head coach was lying about his understanding of the rules, as was the entire organization. It's true that the Patriots are a talented team; they didn't need to cheat. Yet, they DID! The NFL is very tough on drug use (enhancing or not) usually involving one player which makes it hard for it to affect the game. The video taping, while not illegal by government laws, is cheating in a way that is just as bad or worse than drug use. Why the difference in the way that the NFL chooses to handle it? Could it be the difference is the fact that we are comparing a successful RICH, POWERFUL organization to one player? I believe the NFL fumbled this one badly and now is trying to beat down that hump in the rug where they swept it. --Robin L.
I'm sure it's been asked before but, really, doesn't Senator Specter have better things to do? Why haven't more people in the media come out to tell him to GO DO HIS JOB!? Go worry about gas prices, or education, or housing costs, or any of the number of things that he should be concerned with. Even though we all love it and it is big business, the NFL is JUST A GAME! He was put into power to worry about things that are FAR more important than the Patriots. Makes me want to scream at how out of touch our government really is. --Pat N.
Are you kidding me? Senator Specter is absolutely right. Goodell handled this scandal poorly and it was obvious he was trying to maintain the integrity of the NFL, and that was the only thing on his mind. The Patriots cheated, whether it was minute or not, and Goodell does what? Take away a first-round pick and some money? Please. Good for Senator Specter. It was more than obvious that Goodell didn't want the NFL to have a bad reputation and I'm sure you have the same motives. The Patriots should be punished and it should be more than just a slap on the wrist. As a die-hard NFL fan, I think Goodell and even journalists like yourself are ruining the integrity of the league by ignoring the scandal. You've lost my respect, sir. --Arian C.