Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania called Roger Goodell to a meeting in which Goodell reportedly admitted that the tapes he destroyed after confiscating them from the Patriots during this year's "SpyGate" scandal indicate that Bill Belichick had been taping defensive signals since 2000.
While this certainly isn't a positive development for Patriots fans, I personally don't see what's really news here. According to Bill Belichick, he didn't know that this was against the rules, so it would follow that he'd been doing it right along. It also was accepted as common knowledge, especially based on statements from the Cowboys and Packers at the time of SpyGate, that the Patriots had been doing this habitually.
I also remain on the fence on how much of an impact the videotaping of signals had on the outcome of games. That seems to be what's really at issue here, since the Patriots have already been reprimanded and punished for the rule infraction of videotaping itself. We don't know for sure that the videotapes were used during the course of the game, affecting the play-calling on offense, rather than used to strategize between games. Some former NFL players and coaches have suggested that the first scenario is logistically unrealistic.
Still, according to Specter, the destruction of those SpyGate tapes by the NFL is analogous to the CIA destroying waterboarding tapes. There's talk of invoking federal statutes governing corporate trade secrets. And apparently we're all supposed to be re-scandalized by the Patriots thanks to Specter's publicity stunt this week.
There are plenty of people for whom the Specter story will be good fuel for a new wave of self-righteousness about the Pats and Belichick. Personally, I'm more worried about the other video investigation going on right now, the one that has the NFL meeting with former Patriots video employee Matt Walsh to discuss the story that came out in the Herald a few weeks ago saying that the Patriots filmed a Rams practice before the 2001 Super Bowl. If there turns out to be a smoking gun for that investigation, that, in my opinion, amounts to a heap of new trouble for Patriots fans.
In the meantime, here's a nice post by a political blogger on the 10 things she'd rather see Sen. Specter working on in Washington than determining whether Bill Belichick is a big doody-head.