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.
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."
RAIDERS DENY REPORT: The Oakland Raiders denied a report Friday that owner Al Davis asked coach Lane Kiffin to resign. ESPN, citing unidentified sources, reported that Davis drew up a resignation letter for Kiffin two weeks ago, but the coach refused to sign it. Kiffin has two years left on the contract he signed last January. "There is no issue here," Raiders senior executive John Herrera said. "There's nothing to it." Kiffin declined to address the report when asked about it by ESPN at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Speculation about Kiffin's status began three weeks ago after reports surfaced following the season that he wanted to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The Raiders dismissed those reports and announced that Ryan was staying on as coordinator.
BRADY NO-SHOW AGAIN: For the second consecutive day, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn't in the locker room or at practice when reporters and cameramen were allowed inside Friday. During the 45-minute period, several cameramen lingered near his locker, but he didn't show up. Nor was he there for the first 12 minutes of practice that the media were allowed to watch. New England coach Bill Belichick said reporters would be informed after practice if Brady participated. There was no word after it ended, and calls to the Patriots were not returned. Brady was photographed in New York on Monday wearing a protective boot on his right foot. He took it off later in the day and hasn't been photographed wearing it since.
TITANS GO BACK TO SCHOOL: Titans quarterback Vince Young and defensive back Michael Griffin are going back to school. The former University of Texas players are enrolled for the spring semester at the Austin campus, an official in the registrar's office confirmed Friday. Young, who left for the NFL in January 2006 shortly after winning a national championship, has enrolled as a full-time student again. Griffin, the team's top draft pick last year, also has enrolled for the spring semester. Young's marketing manager, Mike Mu, said finishing college and earning a degree have always been important to his client.
GARCIA REPLACES FAVRE: Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia is headed to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time, replacing Green Bay's Brett Favre on the NFC roster. Favre, who was chosen as the starter for the annual all-star game, had said he was unsure whether he would play after leading the Packers to the NFC championship game. Garcia signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent last winter and led the team to the NFC South title. He made three consecutive appearances in the Pro Bowl from 2000-02 with the 49ers. The other NFC quarterbacks are Tony Romo and Matt Hasselbeck. Garcia is the only Tampa Bay player making the trip to Hawaii.
THURMAN AWAITS DECISION: Suspended Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman expects to learn in a few weeks whether the NFL will reinstate him for next season, ending his two-year banishment. Thurman has applied for reinstatement and should know in mid-February whether commissioner Roger Goodell will allow him back in the game, agent Safarrah Lawson said.
While Goodell weighs his case, Thurman is pursuing a federal employment complaint against the league, claiming he was given an unusually long suspension because he is an alcoholic.
Thurman, a second-round draft pick in 2005, showed immense promise as a rookie. He started 15 games at middle linebacker, led the team in tackles and tied the team rookie record with five interceptions.
He was suspended for the first four games of the 2006 season after skipping a drug test. The suspension was extended to the full season after he was arrested for drunken driving. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six days in a treatment center.