We concluded our post on Matt Walsh and Spygate last night with this sentence: “If we start hearing that Walsh has ‘credibility problems’ or owes back rent or sleeps with prostitutes or once killed a hamster, it’ll be a good sign that he’s got the goods.”
No word yet on hamsters, but we learn today from the New England Patriots that Walsh was supposedly fired for secretly taping telephone conversations inside the organizations. The Pats Vice President for Player Personnel, Scott Pioli, explained why Walsh was dismissed as an entry-level scouting assistant in an interview with the Boston Globe:
“The job he was doing, there were two other guys doing it, so essentially the work he was doing wasn’t up to the same level as the other people, in my opinion. However, I found out he was secretly tape recording our conversations and he was fired.”
Interesting. That must have been one difficult conversation between Pioli and Walsh. I would expect that Pioli was justifiably furious that he was being taped without his consent and that Walsh was at a loss for words as he tried to explain the bizarre behavior. Except that Pioli claims he never actually raised the issue with Walsh or otherwise asked for an explanation: “There was never a confrontation. He was just released.”
Really? No effort to find out why he was taping these conversations? Or what conversations he might have taped that would could hurt Pioli or Bill Belichick or the Patriots if they were released publicly? Is there any contemporaneous internal reporting that Pioli was fired for these alleged offenses?
Pioli may be telling the truth, and for all we know, Walsh may be as shady as the Patriots and the NFL have begun to suggest. But isn’t this explanation a little convenient?
Over at Profootballtalk.com, the guys respond to the Globe report by writing that they are going to remain officially skeptical about the contents of the Walsh tapes and about whether he has tapes at all. Still, they say, “though information regarding why he was fired is relevant to his overall credibility, the content of any videotapes he might have won’t lie.”
This misses the obvious benefit to the Patriots new claim about Walsh. The Pats can say: He videotaped everything. And he often did so on his own or, in this case, against our wishes.
So here is a prediction we offer this day, February 18, 2008. After the legal back-and-forthing, Matt Walsh will produce videotapes that show violations of numerous league regulations, which will add to the growing sense that Bill Belichick’s Patriots cheated. The Patriots, having laid the groundwork for their defense against such bombshell accusations with these claims about Walsh, will respond by portraying Walsh as a rogue operator, whose tapes reflect nothing more than his obsession with videotaping everything. They will disclaim any knowledge of, say, a videotape showing the St. Louis Rams pre-Super Bowl walkthrough, saying that Walsh must have done it on his own.
It is a very smart strategy that can be summed up, contra the PFT guys, in one phrase: “The tapes can lie.”