NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to crack down on spying next season with more inspections and harsher penalties, steps that follow the disciplining of the New England Patriots for taping opponents' signals.
Goodell is urging tougher action on teams and employees that would include unannounced inspections of locker rooms and coaches' areas in press boxes and a lower standard of proof for imposing discipline on those who violate rules. Loss of draft choices would be a possible punishment.
The changes, first disclosed in The Washington Post on Friday, are contained in a memo obtained by The Associated Press. It was sent to the league's rule-making competition committee, which will make recommendations to the owners at the league meeting starting March 30 in Palm Beach, Fla.
"I think there are a number of steps that should be taken in advance of the start of the 2008 season to improve and strengthen the enforcement procedures designed to preserve the competitive integrity of the game," Goodell wrote in the memo.
The tapes and other evidence were subsequently destroyed, leading to further outcry, including a meeting between Goodell and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who expressed his displeasure at disclosures that the Patriots' spying may have gone back to 2000.
Competition committee members also suggested Friday that the memo is less about Spygate than it is about finding a way to keep up with advances in technology.
"When we met with commissioner, the discussion was how we proceed in an era when technology is expanding exponentially," Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said. "The question is how do we keep on top of that. This is far less about what happened in the past and how we deal with it in the future."
Among other things, Goodell wants fewer constraints on him in punishing violators.
"Too often," he wrote, "competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking. I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established.
"And where a violation is shown, I intend to impose more stringent penalties on both the club and the responsible individual(s). I will also be prepared to make greater use of draft choice forfeiture in appropriate cases. I believe this will have the effect of deterring violations and making people more willing to report violations on a timely basis."
Enforcement would include spot checks of team offices, including locker rooms, coaches' booths and in-stadium communication systems and equipment as well as "enhanced monitoring of team practices."
"Many of these checks will be virtually unannounced and clubs would be expected fully to cooperate with this effort," Goodell wrote.
On another matter, Goodell said he supports the use of radios for defensive players to get signals from the sideline, which now are limited only to offense.
The measure came up at last year's meetings but was not approved because coaches and team officials were concerned that too many players might have to be wired because in many cases, a player with a radio in his helmet might be out of the game on some plays. On offense, only the quarterbacks have radios in helmets.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved