Belichick Had Followup "SpyGate" Interview With League After Super Bowl
PALM BEACH, Fla.--NFL officials interviewed New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick for a second time after the Super Bowl about the "SpyGate" scandal.
The interview was revealed by Belichick at the AFC coaches' media breakfast here today at the league meeting, and confirmed by NFL officials. The interview came about after allegations surfaced that the Patriots had videotaped the St. Louis Rams' walk-through prior to the Super Bowl in 2002.
Belichick said today that he never has seen a tape of another team's practice, including the Rams' walk-through.
The league originally interviewed Belichick before the Patriots and Belichick were penalized in September for videotaping the defensive signals of the New York Jets' coaches in the opening game of this past season.
More coming later on what Belichick said today...
UPDATE (9:35 a.m.)...
More on Belichick's comments today:
"I've answered so many questions so many times to so many different people," Belichick said, "I don't know what else the league could have possibly done."
Belichick called his contact with former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh "very minimal." He said that he and Walsh "had almost no interaction." Walsh has hinted to news organizations that he might have information damaging to the Patriots. Lawyers for the NFL and Walsh have been attempting to negotiate an agreement to provide Walsh with legal protection against potential lawsuits as a precursor to Walsh being interviewed by the league.
"I really don't know what he does have to say," Belichick said. "An allegation was made, and nothing has materialized since then.... Whatever the allegations are, I'm confident that that's not true."
Belichick said the allegation that the Patriots taped the Rams' walk-through, first made in a report by the Boston Herald during Super Bowl week, "totally came out of right field."
He added: "I've never seen a tape of another team's practice. Never."
Belichick reiterated that he misinterpreted the NFL rule banning a team from videotaping an opponent's play signals during a game. He said he thought the practice was permissible for future use.
"The way the rule is written, I interpreted it as you couldn't use it during the current game," Belichick said. "I've never done that."
He said he should have called the league for an interpretation of the rule after the NFL sent a memo to clubs emphasizing what videotaping practices were prohibited.
He declined to comment when asked whether such videotaping practices are common in the league. He said the Patriots gained little competitive advantage from the taping, pointing out that they completed their undefeated regular season after their taping was uncovered by the league.
"We compile a lot of information on our opponents," Belichick said. "It comes from a lot of different sources. In the big picture, relative to what the penalty was, I would say [the taping was] not very helpful."
In September, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000 and stripped a first-round draft choice from the team. Belichick said the penalties forced the Patriots to make operational changes.
"It's made our organization more efficient," he said. "We've taken some steps to make sure that anything approaching this won't happen again. It's made our organization stronger and our operation smoother."
He said he doesn't think the Patriots' accomplishments have been tainted by the scandal. He said that he and other team officials were "forthright and truthful" with the league. He also indicated that the Patriots will vote in favor of a proposal, endorsed by Goodell and the NFL's competition committee, to outfit one defensive player per team with a wireless communication device in his helmet connecting him to a coach on the sideline during games.
The proposal would reduce the need for the hand signals for defensive plays that the Patriots taped. The Patriots voted against the proposal in the past. Belichick said that was about "logistics," not attempting to preserve any advantage gained from the videotaping program. The competition committee modified the proposal this year to allow a second defensive player per team to be equipped with the communication device, for use only if the originally designated player is out of the game at the time.
"We'll vote in favor of the proposal as it's been modified this year," Belichick said.
He added: "Everybody's in the '08 season now, including us. We've been on both ends of it.... The season is not waiting for anyone, including us.... I've said what I have to say. There isn't any new information that I've heard. I'm not going to not coach and not prepare for the season.... I've moved forward."
Goodell, who said Monday he plans to enact a series of measures that he proposed last month to crack down on cheating within the league, said today of the NFL's post-Super Bowl interview with Belichick: "We followed up on other things because certain things had been tossed out."
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