Phillips insists he never called Pats' Super Bowl titles tainted

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips insisted Friday that he never said that New England's three Super Bowl championships were tainted.

Two days before the already much-hyped matchup of 5-0 teams, when the Patriots play in Dallas, Phillips denied making such comments after New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team lost a draft pick for videotaping an opposing sideline this season.

"I think it's ludicrous to demean a team, an organization that has done a great job and won all those games, and deserved every bit of it," Phillips said. "They won all those championships. They deserve every bit of what they got."

On HBO's "Inside the NFL" program this week, Peter King claimed in a discussion about the Patriots that Phillips suggested to King that their three Super Bowl titles in four seasons were tainted because of the spying allegations.

"The league, the Patriots, everybody, they just want this spygate thing to go away," King said. "But Wade Phillips this week told me something that I think a lot of coaches around the league and a lot of people around the league are still thinking, and that is, 'Hey, New England was caught cheating and it is a black mark on their success.'"

Phillips acknowledged talking to King, but insisted that isn't what he said -- or even inferred -- during their conversation.

"To quote me as saying black mark, that's an Eastern term. That's a Connecticut term," Phillips said. "I might use smudge or something like that from Texas. ... I'm sure he misconstrued what I said."

Phillips, the folksy coach and Texas native, said he doesn't think the alleged comments would have any impact on Sunday's game.

"I don't think Wade did anything. He's a pretty trustworthy guy," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said.

"That's not the character of our coach. I'm sure he didn't do anything like that," linebacker Bradie James said. "It really doesn't matter. We're about 48 hours away from playing a pretty big in-season game, so that really doesn't matter."

The Patriots were fined $250,000 for allegedly recording defensive signals relayed to opposing players on the field. New England also must forfeit a first-round draft pick next year if it makes the playoffs, or a second- and third-rounder if it doesn't.

A video camera aimed at New York Jets coaches was confiscated from a Patriots employee during the first quarter of the team's 38-14 win Sept. 9 over New York. Jets coach Eric Mangini is the Patriots former defensive coordinator.

"If you're cheating and you get caught, something is tainted," Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears said. "It has an asterisk by it."

Spears then mentioned Marion Jones, who returned five Olympic medals after admitting she used performance-enhancing drugs. So should the Patriots have to give up their Super Bowl trophies?

"No, because I didn't know if they were cheating before they won the Super Bowl. They got caught after they won the Super Bowl," Spears said. "It's not cheating if you don't get caught. ... When you get caught, say you're sorry, take your punishment and move on."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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