ESPN report could have Patriots in more hot water

Just when we all thought the black cloud hanging over the New England Patriots would go away once Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension was overturned, it appears that it has decided to stick around for a few days longer.

Per a report from ESPN, the Spygate scandal that tarnished the team’s image apparently went much deeper than the Patriots simply videotaping the sidelines of opposing teams. In fact, it is alleged that low-level staff members would sneak into the other team’s locker room during pre-game warm-ups and steal play sheets, which would usually cover the team’s plan for the first 20 or so plays of the game. The report states that this became such common practice that teams would start putting up fake play sheets just to throw New England off.

But even worse is that going back to Spygate, word on the street is that Commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff found more evidence linking the Patriots to cheating, as in much more damning than the tape from just one game against the New York Jets. Instead of going public with it, Goodell opted to keep “integrity” where it was and ordered eight tapes destroyed and a file of handwritten notes shredded, and everyone from players to coaches to politicians questioned the decision to the point where one owner called Goodell suspending New England quarterback Tom Brady four games for his alleged role in Deflategate a “makeup call” for Spygate.

ESPN’s report offered more:

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.

Sure enough, the Patriots organization released a statement of its own.

Here is the statement the #Patriots issued in response to today's ESPN report. Strong stuff pic.twitter.com/NPAAAmcz2M

— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 8, 2015

The timing of this is absolutely bizarre, as New England is set to officially open the 2015 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday evening. Thus, this isn’t exactly why the team wants to be in the news so close to the season’s beginning.

Just the same, however, this is proof that more investigations into the team and the league itself could be coming, perhaps from the congressional end, and Campus Sports will update this story as any new information becomes available.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports