Brace yourself, if you're a Patriots fan: we're about to endure a new, fresh round of 'Spygate', and no matter which way you slice it, if you're on the side of the Patriots, it's not going to be a happy thing.
Why Matt Walsh, now the central character in this dragged-out drama, is so stubbornly insistent on an outlandish protection agreement is anybody's guess. But according to reports, the two sides are close to finding terms that everybody can talk on.
When he does talk, I envision two possible outcomes. One, he truly possesses information that would bring down Belichick once and for all, and possibly lead to unprecedented sanctions against the team, such as the stripping of trophies.
This is if the tapes Walsh claims to possess from his time with the Patriots contain evidence that he videotaped the Rams' final walkthrough before the 2002 Super Bowl. If this is indeed produced, and Belichick is found to have lied to the Commissioner during the original Spygate investigation, Goodell has already said he'll slap the team with fines again and suspend Belichick for a year, a fact which would be moot, since at that point I'd assume Belichick's career would be entirely over.
The best case scenario, unfortunately, is more of the same. Even if Walsh comes forward without any credible evidence, there are plenty of people in the national football audience waiting to seize on any morsel of negativity surrounding the Patriots and Belichick, and seize it they will, regardless of its weight.
As a Patriots fan, I fully expect to hear 'where there's smoke there's fire' and Walsh's accusations mashed, mangled, folded, garbled and refracted through gossip, as long as Belichick remains coach of the team. If a majority of the people in this country could have once been persuaded that Iraq had a role in 9/11, I can't possibly expect my fellow football fans to have the time or inclination to get the facts straight in this case, especially not when so many people want so badly to drag New England down.
I can't say I'm any better. I read the Globe's feature profile on Walsh, a service I thank them for performing, since I think it's important for the New England fan base to know exactly who Walsh is and as much about his background as we can, in the event he alters the course of our team's history permanently.
Reading this profile, I want desperately to believe the picture that's being painted of Walsh as a small-time, devious attention-seeker looking for his moment in the spotlight at the expense of his former employer (and any league, government or journalistic agency, apparently, willing to front legal fees according to his 'protection' demands).
But at the end of the day, I've never met any of the players in this drama. None of us have. We only know what's been reported to us by various people with various agendas. Whether die-hard Patriots fan or inveterate Patriots hater, it's more likely than not that once again, we're all going to make our own decisions on this case based on our own preconceived notions. More likely than not there'll be a bunch more smoke, and questionable fire.
Or, at least, that's the best case scenario.