The Patriots' use of illegal videotapes of opponents' defensive signals, which formed the basis of the Spygate scandal in 2007, was far more widespread than first thought and was a major reason the NFL intensely pursued the team's alleged use of purposely deflated footballs in last season's AFC Championship Game, ESPN's "Outside The Lines" reported.

The report, published on ESPN's website Tuesday morning, said the Patriots had an elaborate system of spying since Bill Belichick became their coach in 2000. It also said low-level employees were told to videotape opponents' signals and go through their locker rooms to steal play sheets to be used in games.

"Outside The Lines" reported the Patriots videotaped signals in at least 40 games from 2000 through the 2007 opener against the Jets. The Jets reported illegal taping in that game, prompting an investigation in which the Patriots were found guilty. Belichick was fined $500,000, a record for an NFL coach, and the Patriots were stripped of a first-round draft pick.

The article also said that because of the perception the NFL didn't act as forcefully on Spygate as it could have, it "shaped (Commissioner Roger Goodell's) dogged insistence that Brady be suspended for deflating footballs in last year's AFC title game."

Goodell willing to lessen disciplinary role

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is willing to lessen his role in the player discipline process, but he's still reluctant to give up final say.

Goodell said he's "very open" to changing his role. But he indicated any change would come within the initial discipline process, not with the way appeals are handled.

Cassel back with Bills

Former Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel is back with the Bills, and he's taking over the No. 2 job. Cassel was waived but then brought back on a one-year deal for less money.

… A woman who identified herself as the fiancée of suspended Browns offensive line coach Andy Moeller said during a disturbing 911 call he "tried to strangle me and beat me up" Saturday night at his home in Berea, Ohio.


Playoff seedings only by record

The NBA will now seed playoff teams solely by their record, throwing out the top-four protection for teams who win their divisions. Teams in each conference will be seeded from one to eight by their won-loss record.

Previously, division winners were guaranteed no worse than the No. 4 seed, a rule that became heavily criticized last season when Portland ended up No. 4 in the powerful Western Conference despite the sixth-best record in the conference.

college football

SEC has 10 teams in top 25

The Southeastern Conference has a record 10 teams ranked in the first Associated Press college football poll of the regular season.

Ohio State remained a unanimous No. 1 after pulling away 42-24 at Virginia Tech on Monday night. After the SEC went 12-1 to open the season, No. 16 Texas A&M and No. 25 Mississippi State moved into the poll to go with the eight teams already there.

Alabama moved up a spot to No. 2. The rest of the SEC roll call is: No. 6 Auburn, No. 10 Georgia, No. 14 LSU, No. 17 Mississippi, No. 18 Arkansas, No. 20 Missouri and No. 23 Tennessee.


Basketball: The Timberwolves' Nemanja Bjelica had seven points in just 18 minutes as Serbia beat Iceland 93-64 at the European basketball championship.

Golf: Phil Mickelson was selected to the Presidents Cup as a captain's pick even though he was 30th in the standings.

WNBA: Ivory Latta scored 25 points as Washington beat Indiana 76-72 in overtime to clinch its third straight WNBA playoff spot.

Soccer: Neymar scored twice after entering at the start of the second half as Brazil routed the United States 4-1.