By Chris Hoffman
There is a reason I work for the Sports Desk. I don’t care about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, Associated Students or Open People’s Party, and frankly, I’d die of boredom if I read about any of the above for more than 10 seconds. I like my sports and politics separate, but for some reason, the politicians don’t seem to bend to my will. In lieu of the recent developments in the NFL’s Spygate saga, Washington’s meddling has taken my anger to a new level.
Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter should be forced to resign for his unnecessary involvement in the NFL’s problems. If I’m voting for a senator – or any government official, for that matter – the last thing I’d be concerned with as a voter is what the representative thinks about professional sports. Seriously, despite the fact that I’ve never been to Pennsylvania, fixed the roads or improved education or unemployment or something, at least do something productive. Yes, his state already has the Phillie Phanatic and “The Office” takes place in Scranton, but I can’t stand politicians sticking their corrupt palms into the world of sports. There are millions of more pressing issues in this country these days than an NFL team cheating, and that includes harassing Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
In his limited time as the NFL’s headman, Roger Goodell has been nothing short of astounding in my book. From the way he handled the Michael Vick disaster, to coming down hard on Pacman Jones and Chris Henry, Goodell has proven that he can handle the pressure on one of the biggest stages in the sporting world. With regard to Spygate, Goodell has done everything he needed to do. He implemented a mammoth $500,000 fine for Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick, and I don’t care what your salary is, that much dough will set anyone back. Goodell and the NFL wanted to put this entire issue to rest months ago, and the fact that former New England video coordinator Matt Walsh didn’t divulge any new information to the league’s brass shows that the Spygate saga should be old news by now. Oh wait, Mr. Specter still feels that it is in the public’s best interest to keep pressing the issue.
The thing that drives me crazy is that professional sports leagues don’t learn from each other. Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig did themselves a huge disservice by hiring former Senator George Mitchell to take over the steroid investigation, furthering the public’s interest in an issue that should have been buried six feet deep. Now, Mr. Specter is keeping an issue in the public spotlight that should be on the back burner. Goodell did the right thing in saying that the league’s punishment was sufficient and declaring the problem solved, but the congressional forces keep Spygate alive.
By Alex Pavlovic
When did society get together and decide that it was acceptable to add the word “gate” to the end of any scandal? It seems that ever since Watergate, any time something bad happens, an intrepid journalist decides to add the word “gate” to the end of a word for added emphasis. Monicagate, Katrinagate, Spygate. I’m sick of it, and, after months of hearing the word Spygate on every talking-head show that ESPN has to offer, I’m extremely sick of the Patriots scandal. But that doesn’t mean I think it should go away.
Personally, I don’t want to see Spygate on the rundown during “Pardon the Interruption” anymore. I don’t want to see Woody Paige and Jay Mariotti arguing about the case. I don’t want to see SportsCenter lead off with another story about the controversy. But behind the scenes, away from the public eye and away from any news story I might read, I think that the search should go on. For months I’ve waited for this scandal to go away, but after seeing the reactions of former players such as Mark Schlereth and Cris Carter, I can’t help but think that the Patriots’ transgressions were worse than we once thought. Schlereth was adamant – even coming to the point of yelling at the camera – that the Patriots had a huge advantage, and Carter went so far as to say he would come out of retirement if he could have the kind of advantages that he believed the Patriots had. For a team that’s won so many close games over the years (remember the tuck rule game or the Adam Vinatieri Super Bowls?), it’s hard to believe that even the slightest advantage may not have made a difference in some big games.
More than anything though, I don’t trust Pat’s coach Bill Belichick and I don’t trust NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Belichick is a smart guy, an extremely smart guy, so forgive me for calling bullshit when he says he didn’t think it was against the rules for him to tape signals. He knew what he was doing and, despite the hefty fine that was already levied on him, I can’t help but hope that he faces a measure of payback when it comes time to vote on whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer. As for Goodell, he gives off the same vibe that David Stern does, leading me to believe that he’s always covering up the truth for the good of his league. Look, I’m not advocating any more public discussion on the matter, and I certainly wish Sen. Arlen Specter would find a better use of the taxpayer’s money than an investigation centered around football. But, as a football fan, I still don’t think I know the truth, and I won’t believe that this is truly over until I hear it from players’ mouths, rather than from the commissioner’s. After all, they’re the ones who have to line up against the Patriots and hope that they’re playing on a level field.