Patriots coach: There’s nothing more to Spygate
Vail, CO Colorado
PALM BEACH, Fla. ” Bill Belichick insists there are no new revelations to come about Spygate.
“I think they’ve addressed everything they possibly can address,” the New England Patriots coach said Tuesday.
Belichick, speaking during the AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL meetings, said he was interviewed again after the Super Bowl about allegations that former team employee Matt Walsh had illegal tapes. Those tapes presumably included a walkthrough by the St. Louis Rams on the day before the 2002 Super Bowl, a game the Patriots won.
“I’ve addressed so many questions so many times from so many people I don’t know what else the league could ask,” Belichick said.
Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that the NFL spoke again with Belichick and other Patriots employees after last January’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The league has been negotiating an agreement with Walsh that it hopes will get Walsh, a golf pro in Hawaii, to come forward with what he has.
“We followed up on other things because certain things had been tossed out,” Goodell said of the added round of interviews with Belichick and other members of the Patriots front office.
This was the first time anyone disclosed that Belichick and other Patriots staffers were reinterviewed after the Super Bowl, when the Walsh allegations surfaced. The first interviews actually came the day before the Super Bowl with player personnel director Scott Pioli; Stacey James, the team’s vice president for media relations; and video director Jimmy Dee.
League officials subsequently interviewed owner Robert Kraft and Belichick, as he disclosed on Tuesday. “I talked to four or five people,” Belichick said, although he did not say if it was in person or by telephone.
Spygate developed after the first game of the season, when tapes of the New York Jets’ defensive signals were confiscated from a Patriots employee on the sideline. Belichick was fined $500,000, the team was fined $250,000 and was stripped of its first-round draft choice.
The Patriots ended up becoming the first team to finish the regular season 16-0. They won two playoff games, but were upset 17-14 in the Super Bowl by the Giants.
The Walsh allegations came out two days before that title game, although Belichick said they weren’t a distraction in the game. And he vehemently denied the Patriots taped a Rams walkthrough before that 2002 Super Bowl, which the two-touchdown underdog Patriots won 20-17.
“I’ve never seen a tape of another team’s practice. Ever!” he said Tuesday. “Certainly not that one.”
But Spygate hasn’t gone away.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., got himself involved, met with Goodell, and suggested the Patriots might have taped the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2005 Super Bowl. New England won that game 24-21.
Specter also questioned why the tapes confiscated from the Jets game were destroyed after the Patriots were penalized. The league said there was no reason to keep them.
In addition, Walsh, through his lawyer, Michael Levy, has been negotiating with the NFL for legal protection if he comes forward to tell what he knows. Levy and the league reported three weeks ago that they were close to an agreement to do that, but talks have been sporadic since.
Belichick insisted Tuesday that nothing will be disclosed on any new tapes. “I barely knew Matt Walsh,” he said. “He was hired before I became the coach.”
He conceded he should have contacted Ray Anderson, the NFL’s vice president for football operations, after a memo from Anderson in 2006 that laid down the specifications for intelligence gathering.
“What I should have done … I should have called the league and asked for a clarification,” he said. “That was my mistake.”
He said that in one respect, Spygate did the Patriots a favor.
“We’ve taken it as a positive and reorganized our operations to make sure a situation like this never comes up again,” he said. “Our operation is more efficient, more streamlined. Look at the results of this season. That would confirm it.”
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