What to Make of the Latest Spygate Reporting From ESPN

Curran: What to make of the latest Spygate reporting from ESPN originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

OK, I'll bite.

I’ll play along with the notion that back in 2008, "hard-charging" Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter -- "lifelong Eagles fan" -- only wanted the NFL brought to justice back then when he clamored for a cavity-search investigation into Spygate.

He didn’t do it to curry cheap favor in his home state. He did it because it was the right thing to do! His "beloved Eagles" weren’t beaten in Super Bowl 39 because that Patriots team was one of the best teams of this century.

They didn’t lose because Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb literally threw up on himself in the fourth quarter. No, there was something more to it. Something sinister. The NFL was -- to appropriate a line from the great Matt Taibbi -- “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

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It was sucking the soooooouuulllll from America.

America’s addiction to the NFL was, Specter believed, more profound than America’s addiction to “heroin.” So heroin could wait, I guess. Which -- absurd as it sounds -- is less surprising when one considers Specter is the runaway career leader in donations from Big Pharma.

The fact he chose to apply his laser legislative focus on allegations the Patriots videotaped hand signals from the sideline? That he vowed to get to the bottom of that while simultaneously collecting more cash from drug companies than any other United States senator while an opioid crisis was born, matured and ravaged the country? I guess it speaks to the seriousness of the scandal we know as Spygate which we all continue to miss.  

And which has resurfaced on a Wednesday in May in the year of our Lord 2021 with an ESPN deep dive into an allegation that, in “early” 2008, Donald Trump called Specter after the two men went to dinner and said if Specter quit his crusade for justice, “there'd be a lot of money in Palm Beach.”

I’m no economics major but my understanding is that there is, indeed, a lot of money in Palm Beach. Be that as it may ... Specter felt this was “tantamount to a bribe” and was deeply offended. Deeply.

The descriptors of Specter as “hard-charging” and a “lifelong Eagles fan” still saddened by the Super Bowl loss of his “beloved Eagles” are all there in the story. As is the acknowledgment that Trump threw money at everyone to “curry favor” and a lot of it landed on Specter over the years.

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What’s not in the story is any conclusion that Trump was acting at Robert Kraft’s behest. Which, of course, would be kind of compelling even if it is a decade-and-a-half later.

Even when there’s discussion of Kraft and Specter meeting for lunch in 2010 when Specter was trying to grab cash for his 2010 campaign -- a meeting Specter described as being “illustrative of my chutzpah, bravado and self-confidence” -- there’s no mention of whether Kraft put Trump up to the 2008 phone call or whether Kraft gave Specter any money at all, whether it be in 2008 or 2010, before Specter ultimately lost his election.

We all understand what the story is asking us to do in terms of dot-connecting. They’re not sayin’ ... they’re just sayin’ ...!

And after the dots are connected in the intended way, I guess indignation is supposed to follow? We’re supposed to be aghast that a billionaire businessman -- well-established as a guy willing to inject himself into anything that might somehow benefit him -- made a call to a senator who liked nothing more than a good donation and said there would “be a lot of money in Palm Beach?” if he toned down the Patriots attacks?

OK. Color me indignant. I guess.

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