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Shula says he regrets Spygate comments about Patriots

MIAMI -- Don Shula revisited Spygate on Friday, saying his earlier criticism of the New England Patriots was ill-advised.

"I'm probably not the guy that should have said it," he said.

Shula coached the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the NFL's only perfect season. New England will finish 19-0 if it beats the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

Some of the 1972 Miami Dolphins swapped stories Friday about their perfect season, praised the New England Patriots, laughed about today's NFL paparazzi and playfully debated the myth of their annual champagne celebrations.

They hardly came across as grumpy old men. But they didn't deny they'll be pleased if the New York Giants upset the unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl. **More ...**

In November, Shula said the Patriots' success was diminished by the spying scandal that prompted stiff punishment from the NFL early in the season. On Friday, he acknowledged that because the Patriots threaten to match his team's perfect-season achievement, his comments could be interpreted as sour grapes.

"I think a lot of people, when I said it, perceived it as helping yourself," Shula said.

Following the Patriots' season opener, the NFL determined New England used a video camera to spy on opposing coaches and steal signals. Commissioner Roger Goodell fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and docked the team $250,000 and a first-round draft pick in 2008.

"As I mentioned, I didn't fine them," Shula said. "I didn't take away the draft choice. I wasn't the one that coined the term 'Spygate.' All those things happened, and all I did was refer to them.

"Somebody else probably should have done it instead of me, because people thought it was self-serving when I did it."

Mercury Morris, a 1,000-yard rusher for the 1972 Dolphins, said Spygate doesn't taint the Patriots' accomplishments.

"It was one game. It happened. I don't think their season should be defined out of that mishap," Morris said. "They soon realized they're so good, they didn't have to have that small advantage they tried to get. In hindsight, I'm sure they wish they hadn't done that."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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