The Patriots' coach led his team to a 16-0 regular-season record.
NEW YORK -- Spygate be damned! Bill Belichick of the unbeaten New England Patriots is The Associated Press 2007 NFL Coach of the Year.
With the Patriots motivated by a spying scandal -- and owning the deepest talent base in football -- Belichick guided his team to the first 16-0 regular season in league history.
That was enough to offset the major blemish on Belichick's resume: a $500,000 personal fine, $250,000 fine for the team and the loss of a first-round pick in the upcoming draft after the Patriots were caught videotaping New York Jets coaches during the season opener.
Spygate didn't stop 29 of the 50 voters on a nationwide panel of media members who cover the NFL from voting for Belichick on Thursday. In a season highlighted by many strong coaching performances, Belichick beat out Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, who received 15 votes for leading the Packers to a 13-3 record and the NFC North title.
"This is definitely a team recognition, but one that I appreciate very much on a personal level," Belichick said in a statement issued by the club.
He also won the award in 2003.
"If anyone is deserving of such an award it really is Bill," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "I know the energy and effort and planning and time [he puts in]. He's had his foot on the pedal all year, just working so hard and always doing everything he can to put the team in a position to win first."
Does Kraft believe this award will silence the critics?
"What I've tried to say is the only way that'll go away is if we just keep on winning, and winning convincingly, and I think he did it," Kraft said. "He did it and I think the fact that he got this award speaks to that."