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Goodell gives state of league address


PHOENIX — At his annual state of the league address before Super Bowl XLII, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that he would meet the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain why the league destroyed the tapes from its investigation into spying by the New England Patriots.

Goodell told reporters that he destroyed six tapes taken from the Patriots after they were caught videotaping New York Jets defensive coaches giving signals in the first game of the season.

The commissioner defended the league's actions, saying that there was no indication the tapes helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls and that the practice of trying to steal signals runs rampant in the NFL.

"The actual effectiveness of taping and taking of signals from opponents, it is something done widely in many sports," Goodell said. "I think it probably had limited, if any, effect on the outcome of games. That doesn't change my perspective on violating rules and the need to be punished."

Goodell said he destroyed the tape to send a message to the media that the mattered had been handled.

New England head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team was fined $250,000 and lost their first-round pick in the 2008 draft.

A handful of NFL owners were in attendance for Goodell's address at the Super Bowl media center, including New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Daniel Rooney.

The commissioner also took time to discuss ways to create incentives for teams to play hard through the end of the regular season, even if they have already earned a spot in the playoffs.

The league is considering seeding teams differently after they qualify for the playoffs in order to create more meaningful games at the end of the regular season.

"The incentive should be for every team to win as many games as possible," Goodell said. "We think that by looking at our seeding process that we could have affected three of those nine games and made those have meaning. In fact, it could have affected two playoff games this year. The Pittsburgh game could have potentially been in Jacksonville, and I think the Tampa-Giants game, potentially, could have been in New York."

Goodell did laud the Patriots and Giants for playing one of the hardest fought regular season finale games when neither team's playoff seeding was at stake.

"It was one of the proudest moments I had in the 2007 season," Goodell said.

Now, both the Giants and Patriots have wrapped up a week of practices at the Phoenix University Stadium.

"We're ready to roll," Belichick said. "We're as ready as we're going to be."

Belichick feels so prepared that he opted not to have a team walk through Saturday, allowing his players to rest for the day.

As for the Tom Brady injury report, the New England quarterbacks' ankle does not seem to be bothering him.

The quarterback participated in all phases of practice. He taped his ankle outside of his shoe, but did not appear to be limping. Brady, who has not been listed on the injury report, said his biggest ailment is his sore right shoulder.

"I don't think (my ankle is) a problem going into the game," Brady said. "I think the right shoulder is probable. It's a little fatigued, so I'm going to be going out and trying to move it around the best I can and make all the throws. I don't think the ankle is truly a problem. If it was, I'm sure coach would have listed it."

Brady said he would spend the rest of the weekend visualizing every play of the game.

"I go over the plan and make sure I'm extremely confident in every play that's going to be called," Brady said. "It's emotional. You wake up in the morning and you're excited and you've got to find a way to kind of keep that pressure and intensity inside. It builds up throughout the course of the day until kickoff. We're going to need all that energy."

In Giants' injury news, receiver Plaxico Burress stretched and ran a few pass routes during individual drills on Friday but, for the third consecutive day ,he worked out on a limited basis because of a severe regular season ankle sprain.

"He ran a couple of slants," New York coach Tom Coughlin said. "He took a play in the green zone and that was about all he did."

Burress is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Patriots, but Coughlin reminded the media that the wideout played in several games after missing practice the week before.

Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who skipped the 80-minute practice with a sore thigh, and cornerback Kevin Dockery also are listed as probable.

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