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.
He read the memo from 2006 that Anderson put out. And he didn’t call the NFL to clarify? He would put a first round pick at risk because of misinterpretation knowing Fredo was on other sideline and people were gunning for him? Waterboy Walsh is a non-starter. Losing the first round pick is the real story.
Yeah, they are “welcome words” however you knew this would happen. Look what this clown Mike Florio from PRO FOOTBALL TALK.COM writes. Now he complains Belichick “said too much” before they were complaining that Belichick wouldn’t say anything. The Pats will never win with the “National Media”…TO HELL with all of them.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
POSTED 9:42 a.m. EST, February 18, 2008
BELICHICK SPEAKS OUT ON SPYGATE
In the same Boston Globe article in which Pats V.P. of player personnel gives the team’s take on the termination of Matt Walsh, coach Bill Belichick talks for the first time since September 2007 about the Spygate situation.
As to Walsh, Belichick says that he “couldn’t pick Matt Walsh out of a lineup.”
As to the notion that the Pats spied on the Rams before Super Bowl XXXVI, Belichick had this to say: “In my entire coaching career, I’ve never seen another team’s practice film prior to playing that team. I have never authorized, or heard of, or even seen in any way, shape, or form any other team’s walkthrough. We don’t even film our own. We don’t even want to see ourselves do anything, that’s the pace that it’s at. Regardless, I’ve never been a part of that.
It’s as broad a denial as Belichick can issue, but we’re confused as to why he’d even mention that the Pats don’t tape their own walk-through practices. Of course a team won’t tape it’s own walk-through — there’s no benefit to it from the standpoint of assessing or grading players because they’re, you know, walking. For an opponent, however, access to the walk-through practice would have tremendous value from the standpoint of deciphering the game plan.
Frankly, including the “we don’t even tape our own walk-throughs” angle in his argument makes us wonder whether the normally tight-lipped Belichick is going a bit too far.
Meanwhile, Belichick went back to Spygate I (i.e., the taping of defensive coaching signals) and tried to defend practices that the league already has deemed to be a violation worthy of a $500,000 fine to Belichick, a $250,000 fine to the team, and the loss of a first-round draft pick.
Belichick explained that he merely misinterpreted the rule.
“My interpretation was that you can’t utilize anything to assist you during that game,” Belichick said. “What our camera guys do is clearly not allowed to be used during the game and has never been used during that game that it was shot.”
Belichick also had this to say about the taping of defensive coaching signals:
“On the tape of the signaling that we talk about, that film usually wasn’t even completed until Thursday or Friday of the following week. It was that low of a priority. In other words, the video guys had so much other stuff to do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday getting ready for the other game, that a lot of times that film wasn’t even processed until later in the week.”
Again, Belichick could be going too far. Why on earth would the video staff prepare, for example, video taken on Sunday of the Jets’ defensive coaching signals for the following week’s game? The value in making the tape arises when they prepare to play the Jets again that year — or when they face teams coached by members of the current Jets defensive staff in future seasons.
Moreover, we’re confused about why Belichick would even dredge up Spygate I. Here’s what Belichick had to say on the topic:
“I wasn’t comfortable talking about it earlier in the year because my No. 1 job is to win football games. The more distractions there are, I think the harder it is to prepare. I thought the more conversation about this would just take away from what my primary job and our primary job is, which is to win football games.
“I felt like now, the season has been over for a couple weeks, there are certainly a lot of questions out there about it, I thought this would be the timely point to address it as opposed to during the season, at any point. Of course, it came up a number of times.”
But, right now, the only question that anyone still cares about arising from the five-month-old incident is what tapes or other materials Belichick gave to the league, and why the stuff was promptly destroyed.
Belichick didn’t address any of those issues on Sunday. It’s unclear whether he ever will in a setting other than a Congressional hearing room. Or a courtroom.
Actually, no one was worried about why the NFL destroyed the tape until Sen. Arlen “I really need to get a grip … and a clue” Specter started demanding answers.
Our tax dollars at work.
Mike Reiss – exclusive interview with Belichick & Pioli
John Tomase – exclusive interview with questionable character
You can judge a person by the company they keep. This isn’t the first time and definitely won’t be the last these two display their reporting skills.