Earlier this month, ESPN investigative reporters Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham reported on the connection between the NFL’s lax discipline on the Patriots Spygate scandal to the hardline the league took on Deflategate. Van Natta says that story was just the tip of the iceberg and he tells us to expect some follow-ups to that original ESPN The Magazine report.
Van Natta tells the Poynter Institute’s Ed Sherman that he and Wickersham have received calls from several sources since that story surfaced. And Van Natta adds it shows the hatred for the Patriots:
“We heard from people we didn’t even interview who were confirming the storylines in our piece,” Van Natta said. “It confirmed the anger and paranoia around the league about the Patriots.”
The ESPN The Magazine piece alleges that Spygate was more widespread than originally reported, a charge that the Patriots deny. And while there have been sentiments that ESPN is carrying the NFL’s bags on this latest story, Van Natta denies there’s any hidden agenda:
“When I came here from the New York Times, I had some concerns,” Van Natta said. “I knew I would be writing on the NFL, and that they had a relationship with the league. They said, ‘We’re hiring you to write [investigative stories] for us. We’ll give you the green light to do what you want to do.’ There’s never been a moment where I’ve been told to back off anything.”
Van Natta wouldn’t give a timetable as to when the follow-up stories would appear, but he did confirm they will be coming soon. And for those Patriots-haters, the stories will continue to feed the beast and for the NFL, it may continue to show its agenda against the team.