Dot ComGate lurched into its second day Tuesday morning when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told a conference call of Cincinnati media that he and his football staff had nothing to do with the presence of a videographer in the press box at Sunday's Bengals-Browns game in Cleveland.
"It's not a football issue in anyway shape or form," Belichick said. "Zero. It's part of a TV show. I had nothing to do with this what so ever."
Several reports have said Bengals scouts, apparently concerned their sideline activity was being taped in the run-up to Sunday's 1 p.m. game with the defending Super Bowl champions at Paul Brown Stadium, alerted team executives and they informed NFL security.
In the wake of the league reviewing the incident, the Patriots have said it was an NFL violation but it was a mistake and not cheating in their efforts to produce a feature on patriots.com about an advance scout.
Belichick said since the Patriots were docked a first-round pick in 2008 for illegally taping the defensive signals of an opponent during a 2007 game they've made sure they're inside the rules.
"Look, we're competitive. We try to be competitive in every area," Belichick said. "But we don't knowingly intentionally want to do anything that crosses the line. But since that happened I'd say we tried to keep a good distance behind the line and not maybe take it as far as we might have in the past. But it's never really fundamentally changed."
Belichick also touched on:
- His respect for Bengals president Mike Brown, a guy he has dealt with during his 20 seasons as the New England head coach well enough to conduct four trades. They include deals for Cincinnati's all-time rushing leader Corey Dillon and receiving leader Chad Johnson.
"Mike got the better of most of those trades. Like Ocho Cinco," Belichick said. "I've got a lot of respect for Duke (Tobin) and Mike, the whole organization. They're football people. They're straight up. You get straight answers. They're interested or they're not. There's not wasted time. I really respect that."
Belichick wouldn't say if he's called Brown about the incident, although Brown would probably dispute his take on the trades. He did win on Johnson because they got wide receiver Marvin Jones (and wide receiver Cobi Hamilton), a key player on two AFC North champions while Johnson had just 15 catches in his one season in New England. But Dillon led the Patriots to a Super Bowl title setting the franchise rushing record while safety Madieu Williams, the second-rounder they got in exchange, played just four seasons with the Bengals.
- As usual, Belichick was effusive in praise about his next foe. He called the Bengals defensive front "as good as we'll see all year and they've got great skill players." He won't see wide receiver Auden Tate (knee), but said he's, "very impressive. Tremendous hands. He can take the ball away from anybody."
He's always had high regard for Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, a third generation Belichick disciple in the kicking game, and said Tuesday of Cincinnati's No. 1 unit: "Darrin is as good as any special teams coach in the league. They're solid. "
It was also hard to dispute his take on Bengals running back Joe Mixon: "When Mixon gets outside, this guy's a terrific back. He's got great power, acceleration. He's a tough guy to bring down in the open field. He makes a lot of tough yards inside as well. He's one of the best backs we face."