Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not so fast

The lawsuit by the Rams player and the fans was inexplicably withdrawn yesterday.

The full text reads:

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

Associated Press Writer

Lawyers for a former St. Louis Rams player and three fans plan to withdraw a lawsuit that accuses the New England Patriots of cheating in the 2002 Super Bowl.

In court papers filed Monday, the plaintiffs' attorneys say they sued last month in an attempt to secure sworn testimony from former Patriots employee Matt Walsh, who allegedly taped a walkthrough practice by the Rams before New England's Super Bowl win.

But the lawyers for former Rams player Willie Gary call it an "exercise in futility" because they suspect Walsh would exercise his constitutional right against self-incrimination if he is ordered to submit to a deposition.

On Monday, they asked a federal judge in New Orleans to dismiss the case. The case was filed in New Orleans because the Louisiana Superdome hosted the 2002 Super Bowl, which the Patriots won 20-17.

Eric Deters, one of Gary's attorneys, said they are reserving their right to refile the suit if they learn more about Walsh's alleged role in the Spygate episode.

"We're not giving up on the case," Deters said Monday. "We just want to back off and see what he has to say before we make a move."

On Sunday, the NFL announced that lawyers for Walsh and the league are nearing an agreement that would allow Walsh to be interviewed and turn over information to the NFL.

A lawyer for Walsh told The Associated Press on Sunday that he was hopeful an agreement could be reached that would give his client the "necessary legal protections so (he) can come forward with the truth."

Last season, the NFL fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000, the team $250,000, and docked the Patriots a first-round draft pick after determining the Patriots illegally taped the New York Jets' defensive signals in Week 1. Belichick is a named defendant in the lawsuit.

Deters expects U.S. District Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle to sign off on the dismissal.

"This is a pretty standard thing," Deters said. "It happens a lot in litigation."

The lawsuit accused the Patriots of fraud, unfair trade practices and engaging in a "pattern of racketeering." The plaintiffs wanted the case certified as a class action on behalf of anyone who purchased a Super Bowl ticket or attended the game; all Rams employees on the 2002 team; and any owner of a Rams seat license for the 2001-2002 season.


Gary was signed by the Rams as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2001 and released by the team in September 2002. He has played for the Arena League's Georgia Force since 2003.

Two fans who attended the 2002 Super Bowl and a Rams seat license owner also were plaintiffs in the suit.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the suit had no "factual or legal basis."

"Dismissal at this stage _ before the complaint was even served _ probably helps the plaintiffs' lawyers avoid being sanctioned. It was a publicity-driven, frivolous claim and I don't think anyone took it too seriously," James said in a statement.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company



Now what?

Monday, March 10, 2008

More on the team from New England

A couple of new developments happend since I wrote my diatribe:
 
Matt Walsh and the NFL have conditionally agreed to a deal that will give Walsh immunity in exchange for spilling the beans.  This is wonderful news, assuming he has some things to tell.
 
And, a former player for the Rams is suing the Patriots based on the information about the SuperBowl walktrhough taping.  Others have joined the suit, and we here they are looking to give it class status to make it broader.  Arlen Spectre has said he will wait and see what this suit finds, because discovery will begin without the need for congressional interaction at this moment.  Lawyers will argue, documents will be released, the truth will inch forward.  Its a start, and I'm encouraged, but Mr. Stonewll (Billy boy) will undoubtedly make this as arduous as possible.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Cheat-riots

Don't assume that because Goodell is trying to get the competition committee to come up with rules about cheating (especially spying) and that Arlen Spectre has been quiet that this is all over.

Far from it.

I've been digging around and doing some howework, and here's what I know:
* The Patriots have been warned about videotaping previously. A few seasons ago in Green Bay, the same guy involved in spygate was kicked off the field for the same thing, but continued to stand in the tunnel and videotape.
* There is associated evidence of there having been taping of other games, notably both the Pittsburgh playoff games the last few years and the Rams SuperBowl.
* Bellicheat himself said he had videotapes dating back to his start with the Patriots in 2000.

And there have been player comments that when reviewed seem unusual (though they may be anecdotal, and we can't find corroboration):
* Ted Johnson (the LB) who retired a few years ago said that each week there was a sheet that would myseriously appear an hour before the game. On it was the other teams offensive calls.
* Doug Flutie said he was surprised to hear calls in the QB helmet that told Brady exactly what to expect on the next play.

And here's an intriguing fact: Miami's players were accused during the Nickatator's reign of buying tapes of opponent's games so they could study the line calls and audibles. [The NFL provides game films, but there is no audio]. They did indeed do that, but it was concluded that this was harmless though Miami was warned about it. But, Nick's Dolphins were able to beat the Patriots in two of the four outings against them. Once, it was against the mighty Pats attack in a 4th quarter rally, and the other time it was a 21-0 shellacking. Think its a coincindence that Nicky and Billy-boy are friends? What advantage did Nicky have in those two meetings with clearly inferior (at least in W-L) teams?

I know what you're thinking. What good does videotaping a game do? And doesn't every team do it? And the answer is that every team does video tape their opponents. But the questions are *when* is the videotape made, and *how* is it used?

As to when its made...If you record from the pressbox - which every team does - you can see the game, the formations, and so forth. And that's okay. But, if you stand on the sidelines and train in on the plays being signaled in, that's not okay. And if you go to an upcoming opponents game and go anywhere in the stadium, that's not okay. And if you somehow manage to videotape a practice that's closed to the media and public, that's not okay. [many teams, like for instance the Dolphins, have a structure near the facility that would allow someone to stand on an upper floor and watch the practice from a fair distance; video techhnology will allow you to zoom in and see much greater detail]

Now to how its used. It would seem that Billy's charges - alledgedly - get the tape from previous games and practices and break them down thoroughly, analyzing every formation and every call. And their in-game taping seems to focus on the first half calls, which the video person then uses to break down for later use in the same game! Now that is expressly not allowed.

So, there's a pattern of having more than the NFL allows, and that's where Goodell sees the hole and is trying to close it with the competition committee. But, it doesn't end there, and that is what scares the NFL most.

There appears to be a pattern of pressbox to sideline communications inexplicably "going out" at times in the Patriots stadium, particularly when the other team is having success on offense. And it might "come back on" when the tide has changed. [Again, this is something I've read about, and have no first hand knowledge about. It is all alledged.]

And there's this: the communications between the sideline and the QB are allowed until 20 seconds remain on the clock. The NFL pre-assigns different frequencies for each team, and monitors the frequencies to ensure that this is what happens. Then, in the offseason, the NFL put green stickers on the back of the three helmets that have the headsets in them. I don't believe that for even a moment that its coincidence that this happened, because it is alledged that the Patriots were eavesdropping on the communications, maybe in defensive players helmets; and had also put in a communications system of their own to continue talking to players on offense and defense at any point, away from the prying eyes of the NFL.

And that brings us back to Goodell. He also wants to add headsets to allow the sideline to talk to the defensive captain, and allow for random searches of locker rooms, press boxes, and other places for anything that's not "within the rules." Hmmm. That would eliminate these elements if in fact that they turn out to be true. Coinky-dink? I doubt it.

In other words, I believe strongly that he knows more than he's letting on. And what he has done to this point is troublesome and in some cases (destroying evidence) criminal.

But, he might have an ulterior motive. There were 8 people on the selection committee to name a new commish. The head of the committee was none other than Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Goodell put himself in deeply, but didn't consider that his motivation may be called into question.

So, you still think its over?

And in combing the internet, I kept coming back to one theme: how is it that the Patriots can insert any player and he's instantly a star, but if he leaves, he's generally average. Are they that good or is it "the system" or is it more?

Consider that Brady may be a very good QB. But, he was an afterthought by most teams, and was a late-round pick by the Pats. In college, he mostly played behind Chad Henne. And some even called him a "slacker" who didn't impress his college coaches with his work ethic.

And he's all world in the pros. One former teammate was quoted in a publication as saying "well, of course he's that good since he knows every play and the coach tells
him exactly what to do." It was anonymous, but it certainly speaks to how the Pats can succeed every year. [Once again, we must point out that the internet is full of untruths and half truths, this may be one of them, we merely point it out as a part of the overall theme]

The Patriots have been too-good for too-long and the win percentage, margin of victory, 4th quarter comebacks, and all that are all too out of the norm to be believed.

In my estimation, the game is forever tainted, whether any of this proves true or not. But, I would like to see an independent, fact-based investigation of just what is going on.