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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Feb 27 - 02:00 PM | Thu Feb 29 - 11:55 AM

From the Hart: Informative, emotional Belichick nailed it

Bill Belichick declared his team's innocence in the on-going controversy over the alleged use of underinflated footballs.

Bill Belichick has held endless press conferences in his 15 seasons in New England.

He's spoken to the media after overwhelming wins and embarrassing losses. Dealt with various controversies, both on and off the field.

But never has he seemingly been as emotional and frank as he was in Saturday afternoon's impromptu address in the media workroom at Gillette Stadium dealing with the NFL's investigation into New England's use of supposedly underinflated footballs in the team's blowout win over the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.

Stepping to the dais for the second time in three days to detail his feelings on the controversy that has created unfathomable national and international media coverage, Belichick spoke with obvious emotion. He also talked from a position of knowledge based on five-plus days trying to get to the bottom of what has been clichély dubbed Deflate-gate.

He detailed the various scientific trials and tests the Patriots organization has gone through this week dealing with the pressure of its footballs at various points in the process of breaking them in, getting them ready for game action and utilizing them outdoors in a game-like environment.

Belichick has learned a lot in the last week and he decided to pass along that important if not definitive data to the media.

Check out photos from practice and media access as Patriots prepare to take on the seahawks during the Super Bowl bye week.

"I want to take this opportunity to share some information," Belichick began. "I spent a significant amount of time this past week learning as much as I could learn, more than I could ever imagine to tell you the truth, about bladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day football preparation, rubdowns and so forth. [I'm] trying to be as helpful as I can here and share with you what I've learned. Having coached for 40 years in the National Football League, played for several years, growing up in a football family, being around this game my entire life, it's clear that I don't know very much about this area. Over the last few days I've learned a lot more than I ever knew – like, exponentially more."

That was the lead in to the key focus of the day.

"I feel like this is important because there have been questions raised and I believe now 100 percent that I have personally, and we as an organization, have absolutely followed every rule to the letter," Belichick declared. "I just feel that on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone that's involved in this organization, that we need to say something."

He went on to describe how the various trials and experiments the team put footballs through caused various pressure changes. That all led to the conclusion that no one in the New England organization did anything wrong, with Belichick seemingly making a Spygate allusion in respect to his team's general philosophy of a strict adherence to the rules.

"At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage," Belichick said. "Quite the opposite, we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter in our preparations, in our procedures, alright, and in the way that we handled every game that we competitively played in as it relates to this matter. We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It's been that way now for many years. Anything that's close, we stay as far away from the line as we can. In this case, I can say that we are, as far as I know and everything that I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it."

If there was any doubt in regards to the allusion to Spygate – when the Belichick and the Patriots were fined a combined $750,000 and lost a first-round draft pick for videotaping the defensive signals of opponents from the sidelines – any doubt was erased when the coach cut off a reporter who made reference to the team's videotaping practices.

"I mean, look, that's a whole other discussion," Belichick said with some fire. "The guy's giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong then we've been disciplined for that.

"The guy's in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody [on the] sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That's it. We never did it again. We're never going to do it again and anything else that's close, we're not going to do either."

By the time he was done talking, done answering a few questions from the hastily gathered media who'd only expected to cover open locker room and practice on this day, Belichick seemingly closed the door on Defelate-gate from a Patriots perspective.

"This is the end of this subject for me for a long time, OK?," Belichick said just before he began taking a few questions. "We have a huge game, a huge challenge for our football team and that's where that focus is going to go. I've spent more than enough time on this and I'm happy to share this information with you to try to tell you some of the things that I have learned over the last week, which I've learned way more than I ever thought I would learn."

Though the finality of this ball-inflation controversy won't come until the NFL's investigation is complete and made public, it's clear that after Belichick's Saturday press conference the issue is done and over with in New England. From a Gillette Stadium-based Patriots perspective Deflate-gate is now an unfortunate part of the past as the team turns its full attention to Super Bowl XLIX and the Seattle Seahawks.

Belichick put all his cards on the table. He went all in. And he's moving on.

It's hard to imagine the coach will answer any queries about the topic next week in Arizona. His directness and clarity on Saturday have probably eliminated his need to do so. He can stand on what he's already said. Defer to Saturday's presser and subsequent transcript.

Belichick and his team can now focus on the job at hand – winning the team's fourth Lombardi Trophy – regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.

The focus has already been on the air pressure of the footballs used in the AFC title game for far too long.

Now it's time to talk about a great Patriots team that's earned its spot in Super Bowl XLIX. Earned its shot at a fourth title that would elevate New England into a special hierarchy. A group that's already proven itself as one of the two best teams in football this season.

"This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season," Belichick said. "We won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams. The best team in the postseason, that's what this team is. I know that because I've been with them every day and I'm proud of this team."

Belichick's words, tone, emotion and evidence accomplished two key things on Saturday. First, it declared in clear, concise terms the team's innocence while noting the procedure problems the NFL has with its football pressure requirements and measurement.

Second, and most importantly, it made it quite clear that the Patriots are on to Seattle.

If that was Belichick's goal, then he certainly nailed it and in a fashion that's unlike any previous press conference in his Patriots tenure.

[Watch Full Press Conference>>

](/node/218916)Read Full Transcript>>

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