by Scott Benson

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe has left his local and national contemporaries in his wake this morning with an exclusive interview with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Vice-President Scott Pioli on the ‘Spygate’ controversy that has swirled around the team since the Patriots were nabbed breaking league rules in September.

For the first time, Belichick and Pioli offer extended comments on the controversy, which found new legs just before the Super Bowl with new allegations of taping improprieties and even the threat of intervention by the US Senate.

Over the past several days, a number of Pats fans have wondered when, if ever, the team would ‘fight back’ against the charges that envelop them. Today, the team responds in surprising, unannounced fashion. The highlights:

*Belichick flatly denies ever authorizing the taping of another team’s walkthrough, or ever being involved in such a practice during his coaching career;

*Pioli says Matt Walsh, the former team employee who claims he has evidence that will further damage the Patriots, was dismissed by the team in 2003 when Pioli learned Walsh was secretly tape-recording conversations between the two;

*Belichick offers his first extended explanation of the taping practices that led to the heaviest sanction in NFL history, denying that tapes of defensive signals were ever used in the game in which they were shot, and asserting they were of minimal impact to the team’s future preparation;

*When Reiss presses Belichick on why he bothered to tape when the impact was minimal, the coach predictably responds “Why do anything?” before acknowledging that it could have all been avoided;

*Pioli details Walsh’s employment history with the Patriots, which seems to contradict previous media reports as to Walsh’s responsibilities with the team.

These are in no way the definitive nor final words to be uttered about this regrettable period of the team’s history, but for many Pats fans this morning, they are welcome words nonetheless.