What’s the sound made by one hand clapping? Probably the same as the one generated by the majority of football fans over Sen. Arlen Specter’s continued grandstanding on the so-called Spygate matter.
This past week, golf pro Matt Walsh, the former videographer for the New England Patriots, emerged from his Hawaiian hideway to spill whatever beans were left to spill about his taping escapades to, in order, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Specter, the New York Times and HBO. Next week, he’s due to meet with Virgil, the maintenance man in my building.
Of course, Walsh didn’t really have anything new to say, except that he unwittingly made the Boston Globe look even more foolish (no small feat) by denying that the Patriots had secretly taped the St. Louis Rams’ pre-Super Bowl walk-through. In short order, he did confirm what had already been known and offered his thoughts on the ethics of it all after, of course, compromising his own by repeatedly taking money from the Patriots for something he says he knew was wrong at the time.
The lack of anything new didn’t stop Specter from continuing his overblown rhetoric on the subject, again invoking the notion of revisiting the NFL’s antitrust exemption, a cage Specter has rattled before. He wants an independent investigation, a congressional inquiry and, perhaps, a public flogging. He reserved judgment on what action to take next depending on the reaction of the fans. What’s the proper senatorial reaction to a yawn?
The strong guess is that if Goodell had to do this all over again, he would have conducted a more thorough inquiry the first time around and, for good measure, hung on to the evidence, if only to appease the conspiracy nuts. The fact that he destroyed it only gave blowhards like Specter and a handful of New York Jets fans ammunition they didn’t need or deserve.
But that issue aside, lost in all the bluster is perspective. Taping a coach’s signals may be against the NFL operating manual, but on the scale of infractions, it trends far more toward driving 85 in a 65 MPH zone than it does armed robbery. In political terms that Specter can understand, it’s more akin to letting your feet wander in an airport bathroom stall than it is to lying to Congress about why you fired certain U.S. attorneys.