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Patriots notebook

Belichick AP’s coach of year

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By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / February 3, 2011

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FORT WORTH — The hardware keeps piling up for the Patriots. Last night, Bill Belichick was named Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year.

Belichick garnered 30 of the 50 votes cast by a nationwide panel of media members to win the award for the third time (2003, ’07).

“I accept the award on behalf of the entire organization: ownership, our assistant coaches, and certainly the players — they’re the ones that stepped up and made the plays this year,’’ Belichick said to the NFL Network. “We had a lot of new people on the team, young players that contributed. It’s certainly an honor to receive this award on behalf of our performance in the regular season.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to carry that over into the playoffs.’’

Using as many as four rookie starters on defense and three first- or second-year players on offense, New England finished the regular season 14-2 to earn the top seed in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots, however, lost in the divisional round to the Jets.

Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris finished second in the voting with 11 1/2, while Kansas City’s Todd Haley was third with 4 1/2.

Goodell felt deceived While the day ended with some good news for Belichick, it began with an old story rearing its head again.

In a story about Roger Goodell in this week’s Sports Illustrated, the commissioner said he felt “deceived’’ by Belichick in 2007 when he did not verbally apologize for the videotaping incident known as Spygate.

Wrote SI’s Peter King: “Goodell didn’t make friends in New England in 2007 when he fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and docked the Pats a first-round draft pick for secretly videotaping an opposing team’s coaching signals. Owner Robert Kraft thought the penalty was too severe. Goodell told Kraft that, as part of the disciplinary action, Belichick would have to make a verbal apology in front of the press that week.

“Instead the coach issued a printed statement and refused to answer any questions on the topic. ‘I was given assurances that [Belichick] would tell his side of the story,’ Goodell said. ‘He went out and stonewalled the press. I feel like I was deceived.’

“Belichick responds, ‘I did not make any assurances about thoroughly discussing the subject publicly. I said I would address it following the league’s review. I then did that in a way I thought was appropriate. I don’t think that was deceptive.’ ’’

Tags will be in place Barring some sort of court challenge by the players’ union — and it would likely be fruitless — teams will be able to use the franchise and/or transition tags starting Feb. 10.

There has been some discrepancy on whether the tags could be applied to the 2011 season, mostly from the union side, but NFL senior vice president and general counsel Peter Rucco said the league has told teams they can apply the tags in a 14-day window beginning.

“The CBA hasn’t expired and the CBA has the right to franchise players, so we are telling clubs that you have the right to franchise players and then depending on what the new agreement says, that will take into account,’’ Rucco said. “Neither party is proposing to get rid of the franchise tag.

“But as far as we’re concerned, clubs have the right to tag players, the agreement continues with the same terms and conditions that it has been; it isn’t expiring until March 4 and the window to franchise players is 14 days.’’

The league’s decision will likely have an impact on Patriots guard Logan Mankins, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The Patriots will likely tag Mankins and then work out a contract extension when a new CBA is in place or let him play the season for the roughly $10 million an offensive lineman would earn with the tag.

Mankins made $1.54 million in 2010 after the Patriots replaced his $3.268 million original tender because he failed to sign it by the deadline.

Greg A. Bedard and Monique Walker of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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