PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Roger Goodell is getting impatient with the stalemate between the NFL and Matt Walsh, the former New England Patriots employee who implies he has tapes he made of opposing teams that the league has yet to see.
"If it's just taping team's signals, we know about that," the NFL commissioner said Wednesday as he wrapped up the league meetings. "At some point I will run out of patience."
Lawyers for the league and the Patriots have been negotiating with Walsh's attorney to get him to tell them what he knows. Walsh, now a golf pro in Hawaii, is seeking protection from any action the league or the Patriots might take once he reveals his information about the team's taping of opponents.
Walsh's name first surfaced two days before the Patriots lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. He suggested he had information beyond the tapes confiscated from a New England employee during the opening game of the season against the New York Jets. New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 by Goodell, the team was fined $250,000, and the Patriots forfeited their first-round choice in this month's draft after the tapes of the Jets' defensive signals were determined to be against NFL rules.
The league subsequently destroyed the tapes.
It wasn't until after the Super Bowl, when Goodell met with Sen. Arlen Specter, R.-Pa., to discuss the matter, that the league acknowledged the tapes went back to 2000, when Walsh still worked for the Patriots. League officials acknowledged they erred in not disclosing that Belichick admitted taping opponents since he became New England's coach in 2000.
The main question is whether there are tapes of the St. Louis Rams' final walkthrough practice before the 2002 Super Bowl, as has been suggested in published reports. The Patriots, underdogs by two touchdowns, beat the Rams 20-17 in that game.
Jeff Pash, the NFL's chief lawyer, said after Goodell's statement that the league is continuing to negotiate with Michael Levy, Walsh's lawyer.
"We're having a good dialogue," Pash said. "We're making progress. [Walsh] feels he's in uncharted waters and wants to feel comfortable when he comes forward."