Our top Boston sports media story of 2008 is John Tomase’s accusation that the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The story was picked up by the national outlets immediately and caused a maelstrom of media coverage around the team that lasted nearly halfway into the year.
The report was ultimately proven to be false, and the Herald issued an apology to the Patriots for the incident.
The damage was done, however. For nearly 5 months the Patriots and their fans had to deal with the nationwide assumption that the tape existed and that the Patriots had cheated to win their first Super Bowl championship. It’s hard to emphasize just how huge this story was nationally. All the major outlets took this report as fact, and ran with it…for months. You couldn’t turn around without hearing a reference somewhere to how the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to their first Super Bowl title.
The Herald retracted the story and issued the above apology only after former Patriots employee Matt Walsh debunked Tomase’s story. The paper then tried to capitalize on the publicity around the apology, proudly touting their “unprecedented” front page mea culpa.
One would think that the Herald would tread lightly regarding the Patriots for a while after this incident. Instead, after talking about the bond between a newspaper and its readers, and their dedication to maintaining that bond, on May 15th, Tony Massarotti, then still with the Herald, wrote a column belittling and blasting sports fans, and Patriots fans in particular – the very people responsible for the fact that he is gainfully employed.
By the way, did we mention that the Herald later hired notorious Patriots hater Ron Borges? (Though I have to say, he’s been on good behaviour thus far.)
Tomase remains on the Patriots beat to this day.