We’ll be posting plenty of stories coming from the lengthy ESPN report that delves into the roots of Spygate and other allegations of Patriots cheating. For now, though, it’s important to present something that initially wasn’t fully presented in the ESPN story.
The team’s response. Here it is:
“The New England Patriots have never filmed or recorded another team’s practice or walkthrough,” the statement reads. “The first time we ever heard of such an accusation came in 2008, the day before Super Bowl XLII, when the Boston Herald reported an allegation from a disgruntled former employee. That report created a media firestorm that extended globally and was discussed incessantly for months. It took four months before that newspaper retracted its story and offered the team a front and back page apology for the damage done. Clearly, the damage has been irreparable. As recently as last month, over seven years after the retraction and apology was issued, ESPN issued the following apology to the Patriots for continuing to perpetuate the myth: ‘On two occasions in recent weeks, SportsCenter incorrectly cited a 2002 report regarding the New England Patriots and Super Bowl XXXVI. That story was found to be false, and should not have been part of our reporting. We apologize to the Patriots organization.’
“This type of reporting over the past seven years has led to additional unfounded, unwarranted and, quite frankly, unbelievable allegations by former players, coaches and executives. None of which have ever been substantiated, but many of which continue to be propagated. The New England Patriots are led by an owner whose well-documented efforts on league-wide initiatives – from TV contracts to preventing a work stoppage – have earned him the reputation as one of the best in the NFL. For the past 16 years, the Patriots have been led by one of the league’s all-time greatest coaches and one of its all-time greatest quarterbacks. It is disappointing that some choose to believe in myths, conjecture and rumors rather than giving credit for the team’s successes to Coach Belichick, his staff and the players for their hard work, attention to detail, methodical weekly preparation, diligence and overall performance.”
Here’s the version that made its way into the main story: “The New England Patriots have never filmed or recorded another team’s practice of walkthrough…. Clearly the damage has been irreparable…. It is disappointing that some choose to believe in myths, conjecture and rumors rather than give credit to coach Belichick, his staff and the players.”
The full statement has been placed on ESPN.com in a box, separate from the main text. It’s currently unclear whether the statement originally appeared there, or whether it was added later.
We’ll be linking to the team’s response in any of the various stories that flow from the new ESPN report. And there likely will be plenty of stories.