The following is a transcript after listening to the full interview between Patriots Bill Belichick and Armen Keteyian of CBS during a 14-minute interview posted on CBS’ website:
What are your overall thoughts to Matt Walsh’s comments?
“I’m not really sure where to start. I think, first of all, go back to when he was here and was fired for poor job performance, and then for secretly audio-taping a conversation with his boss. More than one person has told me that he said, after Super Bowl XXXVI, that he had videotaped the Rams walkthrough practice. Now that story has changed. It seems like he has an agenda. I’m not really sure, I don’t know. Three-and-a-half months after that [Boston Herald] story was out, he could have said what he said last week [earlier]. But there was quite a bit – over 100 days had passed – so I’m not sure what the agenda is. He’s had a way of embellishing stories and that continues to be the case. I don’t know the answer to those questions.”
What is your personal feeling about Matt Walsh right now?
“Well, that things seem to be shifting, things seem to be embellished, and he’s made some comments relative to me that I don’t how, or why, he’d come up with those. We didn’t really have much of a relationship at all when he was here. He was in the opposite end of the building, on a different floor. We very rarely saw or talked to each other. For him to represent how I felt, what I thought, or what I did, I don’t know where that would possibly come from. The fact that he has tried to make it seem like we were buddies and belonged to the same book club is really a long, long stretch.”
In a statement, this organization questioned “the truthfulness of many of Matt Walsh’s statements.” What do you think he’s lying about?
“He’s changed a lot of things he’s said. Whatever his testimony was to the league, most recently, that is kind of the latest version of it.”
Is there a specific example to what you think he’s lying about when he talks about how this organization was deceptive, and the way his taping was set up?
“That was never the case. He was in full Patriots gear. I can show you videos of him doing his job, during the game, shooting the shot that he shot in the end zone – the kickers, the tight [shot] on the quarterback, and at times [opposing teams’] signals. We weren’t trying to be discreet about it. Again, in all honesty, we felt like what we were doing was OK.”
Walsh said it was arrogant of you to say you misinterpreted NFL rules, and that you said that this illegal taping was of little value – 1 out of a scale of 100 – and that his feeling was that it may very well be the reason you won three Super Bowls.
“First of all, I’ll start it back first – the reason you win football games is because of players. Players make plays on the field to win games, and that’s how you win them. They’re the ones that win games. But there are a lot of things that go into preparation for a game – it’s a mosaic. There are hundreds of things. In our case, sometimes signals are involved, sometimes they’re not.”
Let me go back to the specific thing that Walsh said. He said it was arrogant of you to say you misinterpreted NFL rules.
“My interpretation of the NFL rules came from the Constitution & Bylaws. I think it’s paragraph 14 there, the Constitution & Bylaws states, very clearly, that you can not use any type of videotaping device or anything like that, from the start of the game, to the conclusion of the game. That was never done. We never ever, ever used any of the videotaping in any way during the course of any game. That’s what I felt like I was in compliance with, and that’s what my basis for really everything that we’ve done in terms of competing in the National Football League.”
I have a copy of those Constitution & Bylaws. It’s article 9, 14b, 14. It ends with “during the playing of a game”. So that’s what you base your defense on – that the taping was legal under NFL bylaws and constitution as long as you were not using it during the playing of a game?
“It was never used during the playing of a game. Never. Now, subsequently, there was a memo that Ray Anderson sent out at the beginning of the 2006 season, and that was an error on my part. I take full accountability for that. At that point, I feel like I should have gone to the league. I made a mistake. I should have gone to the league and said ‘Look, are we OK doing this, even though we’re not using it within the game?’ I didn’t do that. We continued to do what we had done previously, at times. It wasn’t every game, but it was a significant number, and did it based on the Constitution – and feeling that as long as we weren’t using it during the game that it was OK.”
When you say it was a significant number – from September of ’06 to when you were finally caught in September of ’07 – how many games?
“I don’t know. Probably more than half, I would say.”
That September of 2006 memo states “videotaping of any kind, including but 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 members during the game.” That seems pretty crystal clear to any kind of misinterpretation.
“Yeah. Again, during the game.”
It says “during the game”. But it does not say “during the playing of a game.” Different.
“Right. Clearly it was a mistake.”
Some people would say that mistake is just flat out cheating.
“Again, I go back to the Constitution & Bylaws. That overrode it. I interpreted it incorrectly. I was wrong and we were penalized for it.”
Heavy penalized in your mind? Unfairly penalized in your mind?
“It doesn’t really make any difference. It wasn’t my penalty. It was the commissioner’s decision. Whatever it was, that’s what it was.”
Others have argued that you chose to gamble, to risk breaking the rules, and got caught – and that it wasn’t a misinterpretation of any kind.
“I can’t control what other people think out there. I’m telling you what happened, and that’s what happened. I think if that was our intent then we would have done it in a more discreet way. We were open about it. We had instances where opposing coaches actually turned and waved at the camera. They saw it. There were other teams that we felt like were doing it. Again, look, in preparation for a game, the signals that a coach gives out there, everybody can see. We’ve had coaches in the press box take notes of those signals. We videotaped them. It wasn’t anything that wasn’t visible or wasn’t available. We did it in a way that was more convenient and in a way that we could study a little better. But those signals are available to anybody that wants to see them.”
Can I go back to Matt Walsh and his departure? Do you feel what he is saying, in any way, is payback for being fired by this organization?
“You’d have to talk to him about that. I don’t know what his…”
You have to have an opinion.
“Again, I had very little contact with Matt. I didn’t know him personally. As I said, I don’t know if I could recognize him, and I don’t think I could have prior to his recent publicity. So what his agenda is, what his reasons are and so forth, that’s something you’d have to ask him.”
Can you clarify what happened with those tapes once they went to Ernie Adams?
“Yeah, absolutely. He looked at them and it was, again, a mosaic. It was compiled, it was put in together with a lot of other information about what the team did, and our preparation for the game. But I met with the quarterbacks twice a week. When Charlie [Weis] was the offensive coordinator, Josh [McDaniels] was the offensive coordinator, [Tom] Brady – there were not quarterback/Ernie Adams/Bill Belichick/offensive coordinator meetings where we sat down and looked at signals and made up game-plans based on that. That didn’t happen. It didn’t happen. Ernie looked at them. At times there was some information that came out of it, he used it. That’s how it was done. It was one part of a very broad – hundreds of things that are put into preparation and game-planning. So there was no ‘OK, we’re going to sit down here on this day and have this meeting, and there are the signals, and here are the plays we’re going to run and all that’. That never happened.”
So there was no calculated, deliberate system put in place to take advantage of this illegal taping?
“No, because you can’t take advantage of signals. You don’t know whether they are ever going to be available or not. They can change them. They can use wristbands. They can have somebody stand in front of the person that is signaling them. We signal all the time. We’re always protective of our signals. We change them on a regular basis. We have people screen the signal-caller and we use wristbands. We protect them, just like a third-base coach does. I think most teams in the league do that.”
Some might argue that in a game of inches – putting that type of information, where you can decode signals, come up with specific plays to use in real-time during a game, is pure gold in the NFL, and could be the difference between winning and losing.
“Again, you can get those same signals by sitting up in the press box and writing down what the signal is, and what the play was, and doing it that way. Those signals are available to anybody who wants to see them.”
Then why do it from the sidelines?
“It was a more convenient way to study them. It wasn’t any information that isn’t available to anybody else. Anybody can sit up in the press box and watch a coach give signals.”
But they don’t have them on tape, where they can go back and analyze them and they can decode them. Writing them down on a piece of paper…
“We’re not talking about DNA. You’ve seen the signals on the sideline. You can sit there and watch them. We’ve done it without tape. We’ve done it, and every team takes an advance scout, or they have people that look at the other teams’ signals. Sometimes you can get them, sometimes they change them. Signaling defenses and personnel, and all that, that is part of football. And everybody is available to see those signals. It’s not like the other team, or the other sideline, or the press box or anybody else -- that they’re not visible. They’re available to 70,000 fans.”
If they weren’t of such great value to you and this organization, then why would Matt Walsh say that he was told by this superiors to avoid detection, to not wear Patriots clothing on the sidelines, and to lie if he was asked about what he was shooting?
“I don’t know of anybody that would have told him that. I never told anybody to tell him that. I don’t think his superiors told him to do that.”
You don’t think, or you don’t know, whether [video director] Jimmy Dee, his superior, told him that?
“He was never instructed to do that. Jimmy said that he never did that. But you can see the tapes of Matt filming the games. You can see him in the end-zone camera, shooting them. He’s as open as you can be. He’s standing there behind the camera in full Patriots gear, shooting the tapes. Those tapes [that show Walsh] go to every team in the league [as part of a standard tape exchange]. You can make a judgment on that, Armen. You can see him standing there in the end zone shooting it. It’s not anything discreet.”
Since I’m here, is there anything else you’d like to say about this to put this to rest, so to speak?
“Yeah, two things. I think that the players and the assistant coaches have no involvement in this whatsoever. For them to be dragged in or questioned at all on it is totally out of the scope and the realm of what this is about. I think our players and our assistant coaches work hard and they prepare hard, and they go out and do their best to win. That’s why I respect them. That’s why they’ve done as well as they have. On a going-forward basis, I think what we’ve taken from this as an organization is that we have learned from the problems we had in the fall. We’ve looked at really every single area of our operation. We’ve tried to tighten it down. We’ve tightened down our accountability. We’ve streamlined some things. We are certainly taking the extra step in every situation that we can, to make sure we are in full, complete compliance with everything we have to do, at every level. And believe me, there are a lot of things that we need to be. There is a very broad spectrum of things that you need to be in compliance with in the National Football League. Commissioner Goodell has instituted kind of an integrity and [reporting requirement] of doing it, and we’ve gone well beyond that to try to make sure we’re doing things in the right way, and I think that has been a positive step for our organization. There is more communication, there is better understanding, and we’re making sure everything is done in a totally proper and consistent way with what the league expects to be done. I think that has strengthened our organization and certainly Robert and Jonathan Kraft have gone a long way to not only supporting me and the football team, but also making sure that going forward, we’re in complete compliance with everything we need to be doing.”