"Taping a walkthrough is much different from what I punished them for," the NFL commissioner said Thursday at a meeting of a group representing the Associated Press Sports Editors.
After more than two months of negotiations, lawyers for the league and Walsh, the former New England employee, finally reached agreement Wednesday on terms that will allow him to talk to Goodell. They include an agreement by the Patriots not to sue Walsh and to pay his legal expenses and his airfare to New York from Hawaii, where he is now a golf pro.
Walsh's name first surfaced just before the Super Bowl, in which the Patriots were upset by the New York Giants after finishing the regular season 16-0 and winning two playoff games. Among the allegations was that the Patriots illegally taped the Rams' final walkthrough before that title game, when New England, a two-touchdown underdog, upset St. Louis 20-17.
Goodell said Thursday he has no idea what Walsh, who spent six years as a New England employee, has to offer than what the league already knows. He noted, however, that the league, which destroyed the tapes from the Jets game after reviewing them, had spoken to 50 people in connection with the case and that Walsh was the only one who asked for legal protection.
Belichick has emphatically denied taping the walkthrough. "I have never taped a practice, certainly not that one," New England's coach has said repeatedly.
Goodell said his mind is open on the subject.
On other matters, Goodell said:
» He gave no guarantees to owner Jerry Jones or anyone from the Dallas Cowboys that he will reinstate Adam "Pacman" Jones, whom the Cowboys obtained in a trade with Tennessee on Wednesday. He expects to meet in June with Pacman Jones, who was suspended all of last season for multiple violations of the league's code of behavior.
» He met this week with his players council and discussed the proposal that would require players' hair that reaches below their name tag being tucked under the helmet. "It would have to be done in a way that would respect the uniform code and also respect players' rights."
» The NFL is considering moving the draft from New York to other cities. Its contract with Radio City Music Hall, where it will be held this weekend, is in its last year.
» He welcomes the plan by developer Edward P. Roski Jr. to build a 75,000-seat stadium in Los Angeles to help lure back the NFL, which hasn't had a team there since 1994. He noted, however, the league has no plans to expand and no current franchise seems in enough trouble to seek relocation.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press