Belichick speaks with Goodell about videotape flap

Thursday, September 13, 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- This videotape needs no interpretation:~ The Patriots coach issued a statement about sideline filming.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick walked out of his news conference Wednesday when pressed repeatedly about the sideline spying scandal that landed him on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's crowded docket.

Ten minutes before his regular availability, Belichick issued a one-paragraph statement apologizing to his team and confirming that he has spoken to Goodell about an "interpretation" of league rules that ban videotaping of the opposing sideline.

"Although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players," Belichick said. "Following the league's decision, I will have further comment."

It wasn't clear whether Belichick was apologizing for his actions or the distraction it has caused his team as it prepares for Sunday night's marquee game against San Diego.

But if he thought -- or even hoped -- that the standing-room crowd of media was there to talk about the Chargers, he failed to prepare in the manner that has made him one of the most successful coaches in NFL history.

Never one to relish his interactions with the media, Belichick grimly refused to respond to a half-dozen questions about the scandal, possible punishments and the potential effect on his team. Begging for a football question, he seemed ready to abort the news conference after just a few minutes.

"Any questions about the Chargers?" he said. "Want to talk about the football game? If not, I think that statement pretty much covers it."

It appeared that there were no takers, then one reporter asked about Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

The prospect of defending against the reigning NFL offensive player of the year is not the sort of thing that usually cheers up opposing coaches.

But Belichick smiled.

"I think the Chargers are a concern. Their football team is a concern. That's what we're concerned about," he said. "Whatever happens out there Sunday night, out there on the field, that's when everybody will make their statement."

After another 15 minutes of football questions, the subject returned to the spying scandal.

"Is there any other question on the Chargers?" Belichick said before walking out. "OK. Yep. That's all. OK. Thank you."

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