The ties that bind
Something stinks in the world of Spygate. Call it a spectre over Specter. Call it a distasteful conflict of interest. Call it an unfair accusation against a Senator with motives more pure than a
The story begins with the righteous anger of the cancer-surviving, 78-year-old Senator from Pennsylvania,
The longtime GOP Senator from Pennsylvania effectively called Goodell a liar, saying, "The commissioner's explanation as to why he destroyed the tapes does not ring true."
Specter says he has taken up this crusade because he is a football fan haunted by the Patriots three-point Super Bowl win over his Philadelphia Eagles.
He has also said, "I think the Congress has a legitimate interest. It really all melds together with their other practices, which are not really too concerned about the fan and the consumers. We have a right to have honest football games that are played according to the rules."
Yet, a closer look at Specter's incentives reveals what some say is a most unpleasant stench.
Long before Spygate, dating to 1983 according to aides, Specter has railed against the antitrust exemption held by the NFL. He has, his supporters say, objected to the way they can blithely move teams and take public funds to build stadiums. Yet in recent years, the object of Specter's NFL ire has been the NFL Network and its exclusive relationship with DirecTV. The Philadelphia-based Comcast cable company is in a war with the NFL over whether they can charge their customers for the NFL Network, unlike DirecTV.
Here is where we start to get filthy. Specter was described to me by an opponent as "the Senator from the great state of Comcast." Is this fair?
Comcast is the No. 2 source of campaign funds for the Senator. Comcast execs and employees have given a reported $153,600 in contributions, going back to 1989. The No. 1 contributor since '89 is Blank Rome LLC, a lobbying firm that has dumped $358,483 into Specter's coffers. A chief client of Blank Rome is .... wait for it .... Comcast.
Goodell has pulled no punches on Comcast, saying, "They're just finding another way which they can charge our consumers more money. We think it (the NFL Network) should be available on a broader basis." When asked if Specter's vendetta is related to Comcast, Goodell only said, "I'm not addressing that point."
Specter's office disputes this assertion, with spokesperson
Specter himself said to
One thing is certain: as fans we should want to know what Belichick did or hasn't done, and whether the dominant dynasty of the last decade systematically broke the rules to climb the mountain. But there is enough of a conflict of interest on Specter to raise eyebrows. Let's get an independent commission. But let's get it out of the halls of Congress. You aren't a pigskin populist just because you deliver the pork.