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February 2, 2008
Coventry native emerges as figure in Spygate
A Coventry native has emerged as another figure in the scandal that won’t go away.
One day after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spent a good portion of his annual State of The Game press conference defending the league’s actions regarding Spygate — the controversy that resulted in both the Patriots organization and coach Bill Belichick being fined, and the team being stripped of a first-round draft choice, for illegally videotaping New York Jets defensive coaches as they signaled to players — ESPN.com yesterday quoted Matt Walsh, a Rhode Islander from Coventry who now works as a golf pro in Hawaii, as hinting he has more information about the Pats’ taping practices.
ESPN.com reported that Walsh worked for the organization from 1996 until January, 2003, when he was fired.
“If I had a reason to want to go public, or tell a story, I could have done it before it even broke,’’ Walsh, who started as a public-relations intern and also worked as a video assistant prior to becoming a team scout, told ESPN.com. “I could have said everything rather than having [Jets coach Eric] Mangini be the one to bring it out.
“If they’re doing a thorough investigation — they didn’t contact me. So draw your own conclusions. Maybe they felt they didn’t need to. Maybe the league feels they got satisfactory answers from everything the Patriots sent them.’’
Earlier in the week, Walsh, citing confidentiality agreements with the Patriots, told The New York Times he could not tell or show anything related to the Patriots unless his lawyer crafted an agreement. Asked Friday by the Times if he possessed a tape incriminating the Patriots, he said, “I’ve never given a comment to anyone saying I had a tape or I’d give a tape to anyone.”
Walsh declined to make any material available to ESPN and wanted the news organization to pay his legal fees related to his involvement in the story, as well as to an indemnity that would cover any damages found against him in court. ESPN refused.
ESPN.com’s report came on the heels of a Boston Herald story yesterday, citing a source close to the team, that said the Patriots videotaped the St. Louis Rams’ last walkthrough before they played in the 2002 Super Bowl. The Herald story was denied by both the team and the NFL.
“The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI is absolutely false,’’ said Stacey James, the Patriots’ vice-president of media relations. “Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said: “We were aware of the rumor months ago and looked into it. There was no evidence of it on the tapes or in the notes produced by the Patriots, and the Patriots told us it was not true.”
Rams spokesman Rick Smith, reading a statement from team president John Shaw, said, “At this point, we have no comment.”
New England did not have a walkthrough yesterday; the Pats also had decided against having a Saturday walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. The Giants held one at the Arizona Cardinals’ practice facility. A walkthrough is done without pads or helmets, giving teams a chance to practice their formations.
All of which followed Goodell’s grilling by the media about Spygate on Friday, which in itself was prompted by remarks from Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who wanted the NFL to explain why it destroyed evidence of the scandal. Goodell defended his decision, saying “there was no purpose for them [not to be disposed of].” He said one of the tapes was leaked to FOX and making sure there were no more leaks “was one of my concerns.’’
Goodell also said he didn’t think the Patriots used such tapes to win previous titles.
“There was no indication that it benefited them in any of the Super Bowl victories,” he said.
Specter, contacted after the press conference, said Goodell’s response “didn’t make any sense at all’’ and added the matter could put the league’s antitrust exemption — a limited exemption involving the league’s right to pool its television revenue and distribute it equally to all teams — at risk.
“Their antitrust exemption has been on my mind for a long time,” he said.
When asked about mounting criticism, from both the media and the general public, that Congress has far more important matters to concern itself with, Specter responded: “I do believe that it is a matter of importance. It’s not going to displace the stimulus package or the Iraq war, but I think the integrity of football is very important, and I think the National Football League has a special duty to the American people — and further the Congress — because they have an antitrust exemption.”
Walsh, 31, is now an assistant golf pro on Maui. He is married to Colleen Kennedy, who grew up in Johnston and West Greenwich, and they have an 8-month-old son. ESPN.com’s story said Walsh fears that his family still in the area “could be in harm’s way if he damages the Patriots with any information he might disclose.’’
He told ESPN.com he still owns Patriots season tickets.
Posted by Art Martone at 7:31 PM | Permalink
I have attached a link to Mr.Walsh and Miss Kennedy's 2004 wedding announcement from this newspaper in which it clearly states that Mr. Walsh left the Patriots employ in January 2002, not 2003. The game was Feb. 2, 2002, so he could possibly have filmed a walk through if it had been held the last day of Jan, the 31st, but to have left (been fired) in Jan 2002, it would have to have been on that day. Now, that's not suspicious, right? What a loser! Just another jerk looking for a quick buck & his 15 minutes of fame. Either that, or he seriously has an issue with the truth and/or calendars!!! I feel embarrassed for his RI family, who will surely feel the wrath of Patriots' Nation. Oh, and I'll take those season tickets off your hands, Matt, as I'm guessing you won't want to be showing your weenie face in Gillette!!! Go Pats!
Posted by: Pats Fan 19 at February 3, 2008 10:07 AM