Owners meeting notebook

Belichick doesn't change his stance

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / April 1, 2008

PALM BEACH, Fla. - With the Patriots' videotaping procedures remaining a topic of discussion at the NFL's annual meeting, coach Bill Belichick reiterated what he told the Globe in February regarding allegations that the club taped the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI.

"[A reporter] asked a question before, and I said in my career I have never seen a tape of another practice, authorized one, or anything else," Belichick said yesterday.

"So I don't know [why the issue still lingers]. Allegations have been out there, but there has really been nothing to substantiate it. Nobody has come forward with anything else that there is really to address."

Belichick, who is expected to answer questions from a large media corps this morning at the annual AFC breakfast, was asked if he feels an agreement needs be reached with former Patriots employee Matt Walsh for the team to move forward.

"I would say we've already moved forward," he responded. "I don't feel there is any truth to the allegations, so there isn't anything for us to do differently. We didn't make the allegations and I haven't seen anything to support them.

"We've already moved on and are trying to prepare for the 2008 season. That's what we've been doing, and I don't see that changing."

Belichick, who did not attend the NFL's annual meeting last year, indicated that he's received a warm reception from his peers.

"Most people have been supportive and complimentary of our 2007 season - of course, with the caveat that it didn't end the way we wanted it to end," he said. "I think it's kind of business as usual.

"Everybody is moving on to this year. We're already in the middle of the year, and that's the way everybody is approaching it."

Open to communication

The Patriots will vote in favor of a proposed rule change that will allow a defensive player to have a communication device in his helmet, according to chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. The Patriots voted against a similar proposal last year.

Kraft's decision is tied to the ongoing issue regarding the videotaping procedures. Proponents of the rule change believe that allowing a defensive player to have a communication device in his helmet will limit the need for teams to utilize signals.

This isn't the first time the league has voted on having defensive players with communication devices. In each of the last two years, proposals fell shy, first gaining 18 votes and last year garnering 22. A total of 24 is needed to pass, and passage is expected this year.

The difference in this year's proposal is that a backup helmet could be utilized if the first player with the device is knocked out of the game.

Belichick explained his position on the issue.

"I've been for the defensive communication system since it was proposed," he said. "The problem, I think, is just how to do it effectively - the procedure of it, not the concept of it."

Belichick still isn't 100 percent sold on this year's proposal, although the Patriots already have determined they're voting in favor.

"I don't know that it's going to eliminate the need for signals, unless a team like Chicago that has a guy like Brian Urlacher on the field for every play - their middle linebacker, their defensive signal-caller - it will probably be fine for them," he said.

"But for a team that utilizes different personnel, and maybe you don't have your signal-caller necessarily on the field for every play - you have some kind of a rotation or substitution pattern - you're going to have to find another way to do it."

Eyeing the kickoff

The NFL released its schedule for nationally televised games on opening weekend (Sept. 4-8). The Thursday night kickoff game has the Redskins visiting the Giants. The Bears travel to face the Colts in the Sunday night opener, as Indianapolis unveils its new stadium. The Packers host the Vikings in the first game of the Monday night doubleheader, followed by the Raiders entertaining the Broncos. The entire NFL schedule will be released later this month . . . The Patriots were not awarded any compensatory draft choices by the NFL. Each year, compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lose more or better compensatory free agents than they acquired the previous season . . . The Chiefs' proposal to ban players' hair from covering the name and numerals on their jersey could be tabled until the owners meet again in May . . . Owners unanimously approved the sale of 50 percent of the Dolphins to Stephen Ross.

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