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February 19, 2008
Five Pats returning to school
New England players Kyle Brady, Troy Brown, Dan Koppen, Matt Light and Richard Seymour are among 114 players from around the league who will participate in the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program this offseason.
The program, now in its fourth year, is part of an initiative between the NFL and NFL Players Association aimed at helping players prepare for their post-football careers.
Player enrollment criteria include level of education, professional business experience, interest in starting, owning or managing a busines, and leadership and community involvement.
Seymour will take part in the workshop offered by Harvard Business School; Koppen and Light will enroll at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern; and Brady and Brown will enroll in the workshop at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 7:42 PM | Permalink
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Hoffman: Suit against Patriots only reaffirms the obvious
By Rich Hoffman
The Philadelphia Daily News
Watching in amazement as Sen. Arlen Specter and some attorneys from the Cincinnati area attempt to turn Bill Belichick and his video camera into a federal case, literally, the following is offered for perspective:
"We know that (stealing signs) became an area of concentration for a lot of teams," the coach said. "I think that crossed the line of ethics; to have teams videotaping me on the sideline, then learning our plays."
The coach in question was Sam Wyche, then of the Tampa Bay Bucs. The quote comes from a St. Petersburg Times story published in 1994.
"We don't do it," another coach said. "There are other clubs that do and are really good at it. There are even two or three teams that videotape the other team's signals and study them ... I don't know if it's legal, but I'm pretty sure it's not kosher."
That coach was Jimmy Johnson, then of the Miami Dolphins. The quote comes from a Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel story published in 1997.
It has been against the rules forever, according to an NFL spokesman contacted the other day, but it seems that at least several teams were undeterred about sideline taping over the years - and, amazingly enough, both the sport and the republic survived. Yet here we all are, in a desperate race to get somebody named Matt Walsh in front of a legal stenographer so that he can tell us what he says he knows about the Patriots and whether they taped the St. Louis Rams at their pre-Super Bowl walkthrough in 2002.
Belichick is on record now, in a Boston Globe story published Monday. He denies everything, up, down and sideways. He says he didn't order videotaping of the walkthrough; he didn't see any tape; he has never seen a tape of any opponent's practice; and he "couldn't pick Matt Walsh out of a lineup."
It was all pretty emphatic - Clemensesque, in fact.
Hugh K. Campbell Jr., one of the attorneys who filed the class-action lawsuit against the Pats and Belichick, said that, like the rest of us, he read the coach's extensive denials Monday morning.
"We're curious to find out what Matt Walsh has to say," he said.
The $100 million lawsuit - which claims to represent the interests of Rams players and ticketholders defrauded by the dastardly Belichick - totals 25 pages. It is a colossal bore, as are most lawsuits. Having subjected it to a thorough and professional review - that is, as thorough and professional a review as can be performed by a layman who is semi-sprawled on a couch and flipping through it during commercials - this seems to be the entire basis of the suit:
"An unidentified source, but one the Boston Herald relied upon enough to publicize the allegation, told the Boston Herald a member of the Patriots video staff taped the St. Louis Rams last 'walk-through' before they played in the 2002 Super Bowl."
That's it. Really.
"I don't think it's only based on a newspaper report," said Campbell, on the phone Monday from his office in Cincinnati.
"Bill Belichick has been fined $500,000 by the league," he said. "Obviously, I think they had proof that he did illegal taping since at least 2000, and I think Sen. Specter would agree with that. The filming didn't just start in 2006."
But videotaping sideline signals is completely different from videotaping a team's walkthrough on the day before the Super Bowl. The former is illegal, but more in the realm of digital gamesmanship, and it has been going on with other NFL teams, or at least alleged, for years; no, decades. The latter is much worse, a whole 'nother kettle of pixels and would almost certainly result in Belichick's being kicked out of the league (for lying to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, if nothing else).
Anyway, the race now is to get Walsh, the former Pats video/lackey guy, under oath. The problem is that Walsh is seeking immunity from a lawsuit regarding anything he says or anything he swiped from the Pats after he was fired.
Campbell said he and one of his co-counsels, Eric C. Deters, were working Monday on finding a way to craft an immunity deal. Campbell said that he was contacting Specter and trying to coordinate their efforts somehow - "It seems to make sense, in that we're all trying to get the same information," he said - and that Deters was contacting Walsh's attorney and working that angle.
"It's up to the court to allow discovery," Campbell said, meaning he can't get Walsh in front of the stenographer until the court says so. "It would be nice if Matt Walsh would come forward."
He will at some point, with some kind of immunity - that seems certain now. At which point, this great governmental intrusion into the unsportsmanlike conduct that has existed in the NFL forever will begin in earnest. Walsh will allege, Belichick will deny, and a grand national search will begin for an NFL version of Andy Pettitte. Hilarity will ensue.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:14 AM | Permalink
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