Spy scandal has not tainted Patriots' season, insists Goodell

Last updated at 12:54 02 February 2008


A spying scandal at the start of the season had not tainted the achievements of the New England Patriots, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Friday.

Goodell fined New England coach Bill Belichick $500,000,

the team $250,000 and took away the Pats' first-round draft

pick after they were found to have broken NFL rules by using

videotape to try and steal signs against the New York Jets.

Tom Brady

"I don't think it taints their accomplishments," Goodell

told reporters ahead of the Super Bowl between the Patriots and

the New York Giants when asked about the incident in the Pats'

season-opener.

"The action that we took was decisive and it was

unprecedented. It sent a loud message to not only the Patriots,

but every NFL team that you should follow the rules and you

better follow the rules."

New England finished the regular season unbeaten with a

16-0 record, added two playoff wins and can complete an

unprecedented 19-0 season with victory in the NFL title game.

Miami went 17-0 overall in winning the Super Bowl in January

1973.

"I think what they did this season was certainly done

within the rules on a level playing field. I think their record

is extraordinary. As we all know, it's never been done before

at 18-0. I think they should be congratulated on that."

The issue was revived with a call by U.S. Senator Arlen

Specter of Pennsylvania for the NFL, which destroyed videotapes

it had confiscated, to explain the incident to Congress.

Specter questioned whether the 2005 Super Bowl win by the

Patriots over the Philadelphia Eagles was achieved unfairly.

"There was no indication that it benefited (the Patriots)

in any of the Super Bowl victories," Goodell said in reference

to New England's title games in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

"I don't believe it affected the outcome of any game."

Among other issues discussed on Friday, the NFL

commissioner said the league had invested $3 million with the

U.S. Olympic Committee to help develop a test for human growth

hormone (HGH).

"I don't think there is a significant amount of HGH use,"

said Goodell. "I think our athletes are extremely well trained.

I don't think they want HGH or performance-enhancing drugs in

the game."

Goodell acknowledged that some team owners wanted to reopen

the collective bargaining agreement over the division of

revenues with players, but would not go into specifics.

Players union chief Gene Upshaw said earlier this week if

owners decided to reopen the agreement it could lead to a job

action by the players.

"I think these issues don't get resolved by making comments

publicly, but rather sitting at the negotiating table and

working," Goodell said.

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