NFL Boss Offers Pats' Ex-Video Man Legal Protection

Commissioner Goodell to provide indemnification for information in spying case.

Feb. 7, 2008 — -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday at the Pro Bowl that the NFL is willing to give former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh legal indemnification for any information and materials he would provide to the league regarding his work with the Patriots.

Goodell also said Wednesday he's willing to pursue any believable information in the Spygate case, but he simply doesn't know if any exists.

League attorneys are working with an attorney for Walsh to get an agreement in place for Walsh to meet with league officials.

In general legal terms, indemnity is a guarantee against any loss which another might suffer, often financially.

Walsh, who is now a golf pro in Maui, did video work for the Patriots when they won their first Super Bowl after the 2001 season, and was not interviewed as part of the NFL's investigation into New England illegally taping opposing coaches in the last two years.

"If there is new information that is credible, new material that could be credible that would help us," Goodell said, "yes, we'll look at it.

"We've had people come to us over the last six months with material that we pursued and it didn't lead to anything."

Among the things the league wants to talk to Walsh about is a recent Boston Herald report that a member of the Patriots' video staff taped the St. Louis Rams' pregame walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI.

"We were aware of this before," Goodell said. "We pursued it and weren't able to get any information that was credible. We were aware of some of the rumors and we pursued some of them and we continue that. From Day 1, I said if we feel there is new information that's inconsistent with what we've been told [by the Patriots], I reserve the right to reopen it.

"The staffs are talking about making sure [Walsh] has the ability to talk and what information he might have."

Goodell also said on Wednesday he had no firm date as to when he would meet with Sen. Arlen Specter, but Goodell said it would be next week.

Specter questioned the thoroughness of the NFL's investigation that led to a $500,000 fine for coach Bill Belichick, a $250,000 fine for the Patriots organization, and the loss of this year's first-round draft pick. Specter also wondered why Goodell had the six tapes turned over by the Patriots destroyed, along with notes the team gave Goodell.

Goodell spoke during the AFC team practice for the Pro Bowl. He was asked if the league received any information about other teams taping opposing coaches' signals.

"We had and pursued it and found nothing credible," Goodell said.

Asked why the Patriots turned over six tapes, he replied: "That's what they had. My guess is they taped over some of those from time to time ... their notes were reflective of that."

Taping over previous video is not unusual for NFL teams.

"We asked for all the tapes and anything that could've been done that was inconsistent with our policy," he added.

Goodell also mentioned a possible rotation of sites for the Pro Bowl. Honolulu has it on Sunday and again next February. After that, the NFL has no agreements with any venue.

"I think that's viable," he said of a rotation, "and that's an alternative, obviously. Hawaii is important to us and has been great to us."

He also said staging the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl -- without Super Bowl participants, of course -- was a consideration. Any such change would require approval from the NFL Players Association.

Goodell also mingled with several players, spending about 10 minutes talking to Ravens safety Ed Reed, then chatting with Peyton Manning and Derek Anderson before heading back to league headquarters in New York.

Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.