Football / Sports

Browns coach tries to quash playbook controversy

Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine took time during his vacation in Hawaii to try to quash the controversy he started by recently suggesting in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Greg Bedard that the New England Patriots have been able to obtain copies of the New York Jets' playbook.

In a phone interview Friday afternoon with ProFootballTalk.com, Pettine insisted he didn't intend to accuse the Patriots of any wrongdoing.

"It's a credit that 1/8the Patriots3/8 have been able to get that information," said Pettine, who was the Jets' defensive coordinator from 2009-12 under coach Rex Ryan. "I didn't mean to imply it was gathered illegally. ... To me, it's a sign of a smart team. We're not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you'll study it.

"We're all in the business of gathering information. If I can get someone's blueprint for how they build their offense or defense, of course, I'm going to look at it."

But the information in a playbook isn't as valuable without a game plan.

"It's only the skeleton," Pettine said. "Not the meat on the bones."

Pettine ruffled the feathers of Ryan and Patriots coach Bill Belichick by telling Bedard a story about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady running into Jets outside linebackers coach Mike Smith at receiver Wes Welker's wedding and bragging about the Patriots possibly obtaining copies of the Jets' playbook.

"It didn't shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway," Pettine told Bedard.

Pettine added that he keeps versions of his playbook vanilla in case they end up in the hands of another team.

"I don't put a lot of graduate-level information in it," Pettine told Bedard. "We know in places like New England, it's only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook."

Ryan and Belichick fired back Thursday shortly after Bedard's story published online.

Ryan said he gave Saban a playbook when he visited the Jets, but emphasized the idea that it could impact the outcome of games is "ridiculous." An Alabama spokesman told reporters that Saban still has the playbook in his office and never gave it to Belichick.

"No. 1, I think it's disrespectful to New England to sit back and say that they did this," Ryan told Newsday. "'Cause I can tell you every single game that we've ever had with New England has been decided on the field. Nobody's had a competitive advantage.

"It sounds like everybody needs to talk to Pettine because apparently he's got all the information. ... I don't understand what he's trying to gain by it."

Added Belichick: "Go talk to Mike Pettine. I don't know."

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