OF THE hundreds of players, coaches, executives and support staffers who helped Bill Belichick build the Patriots' football machine over the last decade, Matt Walsh would seem to have been a fairly minor cog. Walsh, 31, was a New England video assistant from 1999 to 2003, when he was fired. He's now a golf pro in Hawaii. Tom Brady or Tedy Bruschi he isn't.
And yet, since letting slip to reporters earlier this year that he might have proof that the Patriots illegally videotaped opponents' signals for years, Walsh has been a very sought-after man. On Monday, after weeks of negotiations, Walsh was close to striking a deal to tell the NFL what he knows—and perhaps countering Belichick's claims that he is not a habitual cheater. Walsh had been seeking indemnity from the NFL against legal or financial damages that might stem from the league's Spygate investigation or from Senator Arlen Specter's probe into the matter. Walsh also wants protection from lawsuits like the one former Rams safety Willie Gary filed last month alleging that Belichick had a Rams practice taped before Super Bowl XXXVI. "We have made substantial progress," said Walsh's lawyer, Michael N. Levy, who added that he hoped Walsh "can come forward with the truth."