In a massive ESPN report—more than 10,000 words put together based on interviews with more than 90 players, coaches, team owners, and league officials, plus "previously undisclosed private notes from key meetings"—Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham lay out their case that the Patriots' "Spygate" scandal was much worse than previously reported, alleging that the team illegally recorded opposing teams' signals during 40 games from 2000 to 2007, creating "an entire system of covert videotaping ... and a secret library" of signals and plays—and also stealing play sheets, playbooks, and scouting reports.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell enacted a massive cover-up, they allege, resulting in such anger from other team owners that when "Deflategate" came around years later, Goodell made what one owner calls "a makeup call," coming down much harder than necessary. The Patriots issued a strongly-worded statement in response to the article that starts, "The New England Patriots have never filmed or recorded another team's practice or walkthrough," but it seems the damage has been done, with media outlets using words like "bombshell" to describe the ESPN report. "You should read the story immediately," writes Barry Petchesky at Deadspin. Do so here. (Read more New England Patriots stories.)