Committee plan could signal end of spying

While the Spygate scandal continues to be investigated by the NFL, the league's competition committee will again consider a measure that would prevent such an affair from ever recurring.

Members of the committee, including co-chairmen Rich McKay of Atlanta and Jeff Fisher of Tennessee, were scheduled to begin meeting Monday in Indianapolis. Among the measures the committee will consider is a coach-to-player radio system for the defense, eliminating the need for plays to be signaled from the sideline.

This is not the first time the committee will have considered the system. In each of the previous two years, the league recommended the plan to the owners for vote in March, but the measure failed to gain enough support.

However, after the New England Patriots were fined and penalized early in the 2007 season for recording the signals of other teams, the radio system for the defense is expected to pass.

"I'd be surprised if the league didn't pass it after everything we've gone through this year," a league source said. "Let's just get rid of the temptation once and for all."

The radio system would be similar to the coach-to-quarterback radio the offense is currently allowed to use. The hold up in past years is that because the defense doesn't have a quarterback, or any single player to designate in all situations, the belief is that more than one defensive player would have to have a radio headset to make the system work effectively.

Owners were hesitant to allow more than one defender to hear signals at one time. The league believes that it can solve that problem technically.

More important, the league wants to avoid the embarrassment it has suffered in the wake of what happened to New England. The Patriots were caught taping an opposing team's defensive signals in the season opener this season against the New York Jets.

The Patriots were fined $250,000 and lost their first-round pick this year and coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for his part in the violation of league rules.

Earlier this month at the Pro Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he felt the penalties imposed on the Patriots would be an adequate deterrent to other teams trying the same thing.

"We sent a very strong message to the rest of the league and I think the reaction we've gotten is that other teams don't want to take that chance," Goodell said.

Meanwhile, the league continues to investigate insinuations that the Patriots may have cheated at least one other time. It has been reported that the Patriots taped a walk-through practice by St. Louis the day before playing the Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl – a claim denied by Belichick and the Patriots Sunday. Furthermore, former Patriots employee Matt Walsh has hinted that he has information about the practices of the Patriots dating to that time.

Walsh's attorney, Michael Levy, told the Associated Press that Walsh has tapes. Levy and the NFL have exchanged proposals that would indemnify Walsh against a possible lawsuit by the Patriots. However, Walsh wants stronger language before coming forward.