Belichick insists Pats did not try to hide taping of opponents signals
BOSTON -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick lashed out at the team's former video assistant Friday, saying in a televised interview that Matt Walsh was a low-level staffer who was fired for "poor job performance"
"There's not a lot of credibility," Belichick said in an interview broadcast on "CBS Evening News."
"You know, he's tried to make it seem like we're buddies, and belong to the same book club and all. That's really a long, long stretch."
Belichick acknowledged that he violated NFL rules prohibiting filming opponents signals but insisted there was no intent to hide what he was doing.
"I made a mistake," he said in the interview. "I was wrong. I was wrong."
That rationale has already been rejected by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who fined the coach $500,000 and docked the Patriots $250,000 and its first-round draft pick.
"I didn't accept Bill Belichick's explanation for what happened," Goodell said Tuesday, "and I still don't to this day."
In an interview with HBO for "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," Walsh dismissed Belichick's attempts to minimize the impact of the taping. Walsh told HBO he was coached on how to evade NFL rules, and that team officials instructed him on ways to avoid detection.
"When I was doing it, I understood what we were doing to be wrong," Walsh said. "Coach Belichick's explanation for having misinterpreted the rules, to me, that really didn't sound like taking responsibility for what we had done, especially considering the great lengths that we had gone through to hide what we were doing."
Belichick denied telling Walsh to hide what he was doing.
"You look at the tape. You see him filming the game," the coach told CBS. "You tell me how discrete it is."
Belichick has said he didn't even know Walsh, who was fired for poor performance and for making a tape recording of a meeting with player personnel director Scott Pioli.
"For him to talk about game-planning and strategy and play-calling and how he advised coordinators, it's embarrassing; it's absurd," Belichick said. "He didn't have any knowledge of football. He was our third video assistant."
Belichick's comments came on the same day the Boston Herald printed a front-page apology by reporter John Tomase, who wrote on the day before New England's Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants this year that the Patriots had taped the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough before the 2002 NFL title game.
Under the headline: "How it went wrong," Tomase wrote that he heard rumors the team's cheating was more widespread than the league had already acknowledged. But when he learned the team's video crew had been setting up equipment at the walkthrough, he made a "devastating leap of logic," by assuming the camera was rolling.
"First and foremost, this is about a writer breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism: I failed to keep challenging what I had been told," he said.
"I had repeatedly heard that this walkthrough had been taped, and from people I trusted. Eventually I accepted it as fact and stopped questioning the assertion."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Sources: Peyton may decide to return soon
- Sources: NFL probes Falcons' fake crowd noise
- Sources: Jets, Bills eye Revis in free agency
- Sources: Lions seen as favorites to keep Suh
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Former Patriots employee Matt Walsh met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Sen. Arlen Specter to discuss Patriots' illegal videotaping. Story
More News• Belichick says he made 'mistake'
• Herald reporter: Sources never saw tape
• Walsh admits he knew it was wrong
• Senator wants inquiry | Read it (pdf)
• Fish: Would Congress investigate Pats?
• Boston Herald apologizes for false report
• Clayton: Five things we learned from Spygate
• Walsh sends eight tapes to NFL
• Fish: Pats stole offensive signs | Timeline
• Clayton: Spygate will expire quietly
• Former Pats employee sends tapes to league
• Fish: NFL faces serious questions
• Goodell to punish Pats, depending on evidence
• Walsh, NFL to finally talk | Agreement
• Goodell growing impatient with Walsh stalemate
• Kraft, Belichick apologize to owners
• Walsh still working on deal for testimony
• Rams player, fans withdraw lawsuit
• Spygate revelations might not be imminent
• NFL, Walsh close to deal to turn over tapes
• Report: Specter calls on Goodell to release letters
• Report: Goodell proposes crackdown on cheating
• Specter says Pats 'stonewalling' Spygate probe
• Committee lauds Goodell's handling of Spygate
• Goodell hoping deal to talk to Walsh close to done
• Report: Belichick denies Pats taped Rams' drills
• Walsh's attorney: NFL indemnity offer falls short
• Specter prepared to extend Spygate investigation
• Goodell has no regrets about destroying tapes
• Source: Specter wants NFL indemnity for witness
• Goodell, Specter to discuss Spygate Wednesday
Commentary• Mortensen: What were Rams thinking?
• Yasinskas: Spygate stench won't go away
• Paolantonio: Goodell's Spygate responsibility
• Clayton: Spygate closing with a whimper
At The Pro BowlNews
• Ex-Pats video assistant mum on Spygate probe
At The Super BowlNews
• Goodell willing to give Pats' Walsh indemnification
• Goodell, Specter won't meet until after Pro Bowl
• Vermeil doubts spying made difference for Pats
• Goodell to meet with Sen. Specter about Spygate
• Report: N.E. taped Rams before XXXVI
• Fish: Ex-Ram Warner suspicious of Pats
• Specter to Goodell: Let's talk
• Fish: Possible 'Spygate' witness surfaces
• Once burned, Goodell turns fireman
• Munson: Congressional interest is serious business
• Pasquarelli: Specter should stick with politics
• Clayton: Spy saga won't distract Patriots
• Hashmarks at Goodell's news conference
• Specter to Goodell (.pdf)
• Goodell to Specter (.pdf)
• NFL has all materials from Pats in spying scandal
• NFL reviews how tape leaked to Fox
• Belichick to turn over materials in spying probe
• Pats owner perturbed by Belichick's spy games
• Goodell orders Pats to turn over all video
• Sources: Patriots give Belichick extension
• Wilson spies inconsistencies in Belichick case
• NFL fines Belichick $500K, Pats $250K for spying
• Bill Belichick's apology to Patriots community
• Clayton Q&A: Patriots can survive this penalty
• Two days later, Belichick still won't comment
• Some Eagles question Pats' tactics in Super Bowl
• Belichick issues apology amid accusations
• Sources: Goodell determines Patriots broke rules
• Clayton: NFL penalty for Belichick, Pats too light
• Mosley: Pats lose first-rounder? Roger that
• Scouts Inc.: What the Pats will miss in '08 draft
• Chadiha: Legal spying widespread in NFL
• Sando: What's legal, what's not in spy game
• What they're saying: Players, coaches, pundits
• Luksa: Spy stories once had comedic value
• Bryant: Belichick deserves two-week banishment
• Clayton: Goodell to treat breech seriously
• Simmons: The camera doesn't lie
• Simmons: Cheating not necessary to win opener Video
• What should happen to the Pats?
• Belichick deflects videotape-related questions
• Former Patriot thinks team should be punished
• Reactions from around the league
• Mike Vrabel, Pats linebacker: Don't criticize the players
• Chris Mortensen: Situation might motivate the Patriots
• Keyshawn: It was 'scouting,' not cheating
• Salisbury: Story blown out of proportion SportsNation
• Vote: Was New England's punishment fair?
• Mixed reader results on NFL spying