NH1 News Debates


Sep 15, 2015 4:12 PM

NH1 News Investigates Integrity of the Game Part 1: New England Patriots vs. ESPN and the media


CONCORD - If you've read new reports by ESPN and Sports Illustrated, you might think the Patriots' four Super Bowl championships are tainted.

"So much of the reports came out early, and they were planted stories, former player Tom Lynch said. "And it turns out none of it was true."

Hours before New England's season opener, ESPN published a 10,000-word story detailing multiple forms of alleged cheating since 2000.

READ Part 2: Why has Spygate resurfaced?

To make their case, ESPN used old testimony from a former Patriots' employee, Matt Walsh, about the team's role in a situation called Spygate.

In Spygate, the Patriots received an unprecedented punishment - a six-figure fine and loss of a first round pick - for illegally videotaping their opponents’ defensive signals.

ESPN’s story now alleges, “A low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet.”

ESPN’s report cites 90 sources, including coaches, players, owners, executives and staff - but they're all anonymous.

READ Part 3: Reporting on Patriots causing friction inside ESPN

Lynch fought back.

“When names aren't put out there and you can't credit the stories to many people, everyone wants to distance themselves but they'll throw rocks," he said. "That smells a little bit. If you're going to say something improper about somebody and you’re going to make an accusation, you should be able to put your face out there and say, 'Yeah. I'm the one who said it.' "

NH1 News asked ESPN senior writer, Seth Wickersham, about anonymous sources.

“Well, it depends on the type of the quote and the information we're verifying,” Wickersham said. “We felt to put a detail on the story, it had to be confirmed by multiple people that would know. There were various reasons why people wouldn't talk on the record of put their name to things.”

Stay tuned as NH1 News continues our investigation, looking at the motives and agendas, and who might benefit from bringing down the Patriots.


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