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Patriots.com News Blitz - 2/19/2008

This is what football fans have been waiting for since September.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and player personnel boss Scott Pioli are finally talking in greater detail about the Spygate controversy that first broke in late summer, then resurfaced during Super Bowl week.

Belichick, in an interview with The Boston Globe, vehemently denied the latest accusations against him, namely that he had a former staffer videotape the St. Louis Rams' final practice before Super Bowl XXXVI.

"In my entire coaching career, I've never seen another team's practice film prior to playing that team," Belichick asserted in the story.

"I have never authorized, or heard of, or even seen in any way, shape, or form any other team's walkthrough. We don't even film our own. We don't even want to see ourselves do anything, that's the pace that it's at. Regardless, I've never been a part of that."

The man claiming to have knowledge of wrong-doing by the Patriots is former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh. Pioli, in the same interview, sought to downplay Walsh's role with the team during that 2001 season.

"The first few months his job was to make highlight tapes of draft-eligible players, guys who were going to be free agents. It's like the entry-level position that we have all the scouting assistants in.

"It's essentially the same job that I did 15 years ago," Pioli added, "which was making copies, picking people up at the airport, data entry, more of the highlight tapes of the players, the draft-eligible guys."

Walsh, meantime, has retained a lawyer, who says he's trying to find the best deal for his client to tell his whole story. And he said, in a Boston Herald interview, that his client has videotape evidence to prove it.

"Sending a former FBI agent to interview people about his professional and personal life has not left Mr. Walsh feeling confident that the National Football League simply wants to encourage him to come forward with whatever information he has," said Washington D.C.-based attorney Michael Levy, who's not convinced the NFL won't take Walsh to court over the matter.

And in another* Globe* piece today, Belichick reflects on the almost-perfect 2007 season.

"It's hard to think of 18-1 as being a disappointing season. It is. We had our chances, but in the end ... We just needed to make one more play somewhere along the line and we just weren't able to do it.

"I think we all feel the same way," he said of his players and coaches. "I wish we could have done one thing a little better and it might have changed it. But we didn't."

Elsewhere, as the team begins to prepare for the '08 season, they may once again be looking to Miami for help.

LB Zach Thomas, the longtime Dolphin, has reportedly been offered a contract by the Patriots. The* Palm Beach Post* says Thomas met with the team Monday, but that nothing official was agreed upon. Thomas still has visits scheduled with other teams this week.

And according to local reports, former Dolphins receiver Marty Booker could pay the Pats a visit this week.

QUICK HITS

More about Sen. Arlen Specter's possible role in future spygate hearings is examined in the Baltimore Sun.

The latest on Asante Samuel's contract/free agent situation was the subject of a Globe feature over the weekend.

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