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The Emperor has No Clothes

That SpyGate is still an issue for fans and media across the country is due to one person: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell grandstanded in September 2007, then tried to softly backtrack, but fumbled again during the Matt Walsh press conference.  From the start, Roger Goodell seemed to want to make it about him. Many NFL fines and punishments are handled without the press attention.  Why was this done the way it was?  The answer is that Goodell wanted it done that way.  He wanted a build-up in the press. He wanted to be on tv. The camera on the sideline issue is more about Roger Goodell than anything else.

 Roger Goodell’s Statement in September 2007

 “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field...”

 

Goodell made a decision to make the sideline camera a major issue instead of handling it without publicity like so many other infractions.  The NFL office leaked possible penalties, turning the story away from the actual practice.

 

Firstly, see No Spying for how the practice was known in the NFL and wasn't considered a big deal.

 

Also note former Dallas Cowboy Coach Jimmy Johnson's comments: 

"I always assumed I was being spied on, or taped, from somebody in the press box."  

"Oh please. I’ve said it on our show. Eighteen years ago a scout for the Chiefs told me what they did, and he said what you need to do is just take your camera and you go and zoom in on the signal caller and that way you can sync it up. The problem is that if they’re not on the press box side you can’t do it from the press box, you have to do it from the sideline. This was 18 years ago."

 

"Oh yeah, I did it with video and so did a lot of other teams in the league. Just to make sure that you could study it and take your time, because you’re going to play the other team the second time around. But a lot of coaches did it, this was commonplace."

 

Why did Goodell handle the camera on the sideline issue like a major issue when the practice wasn't considered a big deal?  Many infractions are penalized without the dramatic fanfare. The answer is that Roger Goodell wanted the fanfare.  That's why the NFL leaked possible punishments before handing them down.

 

During the Bob Costas interview and after, Goodell continually uses the word "unprecedented" to refer to the penalty. Interesting choice of words since the practice being penalized wasn't unprecedented.


The only thing unprecedented was Goodell's efforts to make the camera on the sideline issue a major one.