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ESPN Apologizes To Patriots For Sharing False Spygate Story

BOSTON (CBS) -- If you think DeflateGate is annoying, why don't you try on Spygate for size?

The current scandal may seem ridiculous, but consider that Spygate still lingers in the sports world today, despite being more than 7 years old and despite being a simple case of the Patriots holding their cameras in the wrong location.

Yes, if the Patriots had just filmed opponents' sidelines from a location "enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead" instead of on the sideline, then "Spygate" as we know it would never have become a national scandal, and the Patriots as we know them would not be called "cheaters" on every Internet message board ever created.

And part of what has given Spygate perpetual life has been the spread of misinformation. A major part of that issue arose from the report of John Tomase, then of the Boston herald, from the weekend of Super Bowl XLII, which said the Patriots had taped the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002. That was a story for which the Boston Herald ran an apology in May of 2008.

"We now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed," the Herald wrote. "We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification. The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots' owners, players, employees and fans for our error."

Despite that correction being issued three months after the initial report, the damage had been done. People believed that the Patriots filmed the Rams walkthrough, and that was that.

In fact, ESPN ran with the filmed walkthrough story multiple times in recent weeks, displaying the "news" on the bottom of the screen during discussions about DeflateGate.

This came a week after SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm said this on SportsCenter: "Some would say that the filming of the practices earlier that that does qualify as cheating, which is certainly something that is part of the Patriots history."

Storm later "clarified" her comments without issuing an actual apology, but on the late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning edition of the program, SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy issued a full apology for spreading the false information.

ESPN Apologizes to New England Patriots While Everyone is Asleep by Aaron Mandelbaum on YouTube

"On two occasions in recent weeks, SportsCenter incorrectly cited a 2002 report regarding the New England Patriots and Super Bowl XXXVI," Levy said. "That story was found to be false and should not have been part of our reporting. We apologize to the Patriots organization."

Better late -- as in, seven years too late -- than never?

UPDATE: The Patriots tweeted out the video from ESPN, showing that the organization is listening.

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