Over the past few weeks, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA.) has been vigorously pushing for the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell to further investigate the reports of the New England Patriots' practice of videotaping opponents in order to gain a competitive advantage. Although his search can be seen as a positive direction for the league to head in, the reality of the situation is that Specter's scope is far too limited to truly affect the league.
With reports surfacing that the Patriots taped the St. Louis Rams' offensive walkthrough before Super Bowl XXVI, many have been asking for the NFL to look into the allegations, including Specter. While this is a just course of action to take, the probe needs to be further expanded to include the rest of the league, not just the one team that happened to be caught.
New England is the team that was outed in its misdeeds, but many people suspect that other teams are also in the habit of trying to gain unfair competitive advantages. After all, almost every sport has seen these types of occurrances, whether it be the MLB's problems with performance-enhancing drugs or NASCAR's troubles with teams illegally enhancing their cars with added parts. Although it is an unfortunate statement to make, the Patriots surely cannot be the only team trying to gain some extra advantages to help them defeat their opponents.
Over the winter, George Mitchell released his report on the doping taking place in baseball. Despite the fact that many of the claims turned out to be unsubstantiated, the findings gave people a place to start looking. The fallout has been very effective as well-Roger Clemens has been answering questions regarding his alleged use of Human Growth Hormone since. With the accusations already made, the league can now decide how to deal with men like Clemens and what to do about preventing further scandals in the future.
Ultimately, although the Patriots serve as a good place to start, the search for illegal activities needs to be expanded to include every team in the NFL. Until that is done, all that will really be accomplished is that at least one team will be following the rules (if only for fear of greater consequences in the future).
What the league is experiencing now is very similar to the situation with steroids in baseball-the fans are skeptical about the legitimacy of the league's operations, but they have no clear-cut evidence in the matters. It should be the duty of the NFL to look into every team individually and to work harder at making sure no further cheating will occur in the future. Until that happens, unfortunately, the fans will never know if they can truly trust one of America's greatest games.