ESPN's Outside the Lines released a lengthy report on Tuesday concerning the Patriots and NFL during the time from Spygate until Deflategate as well as Roger Goodell's handling of those two crises. As part of that report, written by Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham, OTL says the Patriots recorded 40 games of opponents from 2000 through 2007.
This is in stark contrast to the statement of Goodell before the Super Bowl in February 2008, when he told the media he believed there were "six tapes."
"I believe there were six tapes," Goodell said. "And I believe some were from the preseason in 2007, and the rest were primarily in the late 2006 season."
Additionally, OTL acquired notes made by U.S. Sen. Arlen Spector (who died in 2012) during his meeting with Goodell in February 2008 where the senator scribbled "No valid reason to destroy" about the Patriots tapes, which were, according to OTL, "stomped" "into pieces" by "league executives" not long after they were found in Gillette Stadium.
Inside a room accessible only to Belichick and a few others, they found a library of scouting material containing videotapes of opponents' signals, with detailed notes matching signals to plays for many teams going back seven seasons. Among them were handwritten diagrams of the defensive signals of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the notes used in the January 2002 AFC Championship Game won by the Patriots 24-17. Yet almost as quickly as the tapes and notes were found, they were destroyed, on Goodell's orders: League executives stomped the tapes into pieces and shredded the papers inside a Gillette Stadium conference room.
Van Natta and Wickersham write the league's handling of Spygate "seemed dubious" to other NFL owners.
More important things to know about ESPN's report:
2. "Makeup call": One NFL owner told ESPN he believed the Deflategate penalties were "a makeup call" for what happened in Spygate.
3. Change in discipline: Roger Goodell appeared on ESPN radio on Tuesday morning and said he's "very open to changing" his role in discipline. He should be and so should everyone else -- the question is when that change will happen. Goodell seemed willing to make something happen before the next CBA negotiations.
4. Mike Martz coerced?: According to ESPN, former Rams coach Mike Martz was called by a "panicked" Goodell and asked to release a statement saying he felt Spygate was handled appropriately, for the good of the league. Martz essentially recanted his statement.
5. Mangini warned Pats: According to the OTL report, Eric Mangini, then the coach of the Jets, told "various Patriots staffers" in 2007 that the Jets knew about Belichick taping signals and to not do it against the Jets.
"We know you do this," Mangini said. "Don't do it in our house."
Mangini set up a sting for Patriots staffer Matt Estrella who was recording the Jets coaches and that's when the NFL got involved.
6. Pats respond: As you might expect, the Patriots are not thrilled about the whole ESPN report.
7. Tape stomping: The "league executives" mentioned above who stomped on tapes were specifically, according to ESPN, NFL VP and general counsel Jeff Pash, former NFL executive Ray Anderson and VP of football operations Ron Hill.
8. Panthers felt like Pats "in our huddle": Panthers players and coaches from the 2004 team now feel like the Patriots filmed their practice, according to ESPN's report, and at halftime of that game, offensive coordinator Dan Henning drew up all new plays because the Panthers felt like the Patriots were all over their offensive game plan.
"Our players came in after that first half and said it was like [the Patriots] were in our huddle," a Panthers source told ESPN.
The same sourced added: "Do I have any tape to prove they cheated? No. But I'm convinced they did it."
9. Ernie Adams: Described as Belichick's confidant, Adams was also referred to by Tom Brady as someone who "knows more about professional football than anyone I ever met."
Adams is also the guy who allegedly decoded the other team's signals for Belichick while sitting in the press box and watching the other team.
It might not have been the most effective way to handle things:
One coach who was in the booth with Adams says it didn't work because Adams was "horrible" and "never had the calls right." Another former coach says "Ernie is the guy who you watch football with and says, 'It's going to be a run!' And it's a pass. 'It's going to be a pass!' And it's a run. 'It's going to be a run!' It's a run. 'I told you!' "
But a former player who was cut from an upcoming opponent in 2005 and then signed by the Patriots says he was led to Adams' office, where he was shown defensive signals.
"He had about 50 percent of them right," the player told ESPN.
A former Patriots employee says the system "helped our offense a lot."