Patriots coach Bill Belichick fired back at former employee Matt Walsh in an interview that aired on "The CBS Evening News" last night, questioning Walsh's credibility and disputing his claims that he was told to conceal his filming of opposing coaches' signals.
The Patriots released video to CBS that showed Walsh filming signals. Walsh was shown at the top level of the old Foxboro Stadium, in an open area, wearing a blue winter Patriots jacket.
"There was no deception," Belichick told CBS's Armen Keteyian. "You tell me how discreet it is."
The interview, taped earlier yesterday, was Belichick's first since Walsh met with NFL officials Tuesday as part of the investigation into the Patriots' videotaping procedures. Walsh met with Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican from Pennsylvania, later that day and has since given interviews to HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" and the
In those interviews, Walsh indicated he had been surprised to hear Belichick tell the Globe in February that he couldn't pick Walsh out of a lineup. Walsh asked if Belichick could pick him out of the three team pictures they were in together.
Belichick told CBS, "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 also questioned the veracity of Walsh's recollections of the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. Walsh told NFL investigators and Specter that he relayed information to former Patriots assistant Brian Daboll about what he had seen in the Rams' practice, for which he was present to set up equipment with other members of the team's video staff. Walsh said he told Daboll that Marshall Faulk was lining up as a kickoff returner and also where tight ends were positioned. Walsh said Daboll drew a diagram of a play.
The NFL indicated that Walsh's story was inconsistent with what it had heard from Daboll in a prior interview. NFL security officials interviewed Daboll again Wednesday, and according to the league, Daboll said he had no recollection of the conversation with Walsh. NFL officials also noted that even if such a conversation took place, it would not be a violation of league rules.
Specter referenced that episode as part of the reason he feels an independent investigation of the Patriots' videotaping procedures is necessary.
Belichick scoffed at the idea that someone in Walsh's position could be in position to provide such information.
"For him to talk about game-planning and strategy and play-calling, and how he advised coordinators, it's embarrassing, it's absurd," Belichick told CBS. "He didn't have any knowledge of football. He was our third video assistant."
Walsh worked for the Patriots from 1997-2003. He joined the video staff in 1999, one year before Belichick was named head coach.
Belichick painted Walsh to be a disgruntled former employee.
"I don't know what his agenda is," he said. "Again, he was fired for poor job performance and for audiotaping his superior [vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli]. There's not a lot of credibility."
A telephone message left last night with Walsh's lawyer, Michael Levy, seeking comment was not returned.
In the CBS interview, Belichick reiterated what he had told the Globe in February regarding his misinterpretation of the videotaping rule in the league's constitution and bylaws, saying he thought it was OK for the team to film opposing signals as long as they weren't used during that game. That interpretation was rejected by commissioner Roger Goodell.
The rule reads: "Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant, of any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited, including without limitation videotape machines, telephone tapping, or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game."
But Keteyian pointed out that the NFL distributed a memo in September 2006 that said filming of signals was not allowed under any circumstances.
The memo read: "Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."
Belichick responded to Keteyian: "I made a mistake. I was wrong. I was wrong."
Mike Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.