6:24pm: Roger Goodell confirmed the Patriots’ history with illegal videotaping will be factored into this process, adding that the league will take its time during the investigation into this matter (Twitter links via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
10:01am: For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the Patriots are involved in another scandal involving prohibited filming of another team. Jeff Howe of The Athletic offers a useful summary of the details, which are fairly straightforward.
Essentially, the Patriots’ media production team was filming an episode of “Do Your Job” during the Bengals-Browns game on Sunday. “Do Your Job” is a series of features highlighting less visible members of the organization, and this episode focused on a day in the life of a New England pro scout.
The film crew obtained the necessary credentials to follow that scout to the Cleveland press box for the game (scouts routinely do advance scouting of an upcoming opponent from the press box, and the Patriots play the Bengals this week). Unfortunately for the crew, part of the B-roll that they shot included footage of the Cincinnati sideline, and NFL teams are prohibited from shooting video of coaches on the sideline.
The Patriots acknowledge that they should have done a better job advising the crew of league protocol, and they also concede that they should have informed the Bengals and the league of their intentions prior to the game. In a statement, they accepted full responsibility for the crew’s actions, and Howe suggests that some members of the team’s production wing could lose their jobs.
Howe also says that a Bengals staffer recognized what was happening and shot an eight-minute video of the Patriots crew’s monitor before reporting it to NFL security. The league is now in possession of that video, along with all footage the Patriots shot for this episode of “Do Your Job,” which New England promptly turned over.
All of that makes it sound like an innocent oversight. However, sources tell Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic that the eight-minute video focuses exclusively on the Bengals sideline and includes “a direct view of the sideline as players run on and off the field and coaches make signals for plays.” Those sources suggest that the footage does not include inadvertent glimpses of the sideline during an interview with the scout, but rather an extended shooting of the sideline.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick immediately distanced himself from the incident and was reportedly furious when he learned about it. Per Howe, Belichick said, “I have no involvement in this and no knowledge of it, and so I really don’t have any idea what exactly is going on. I can tell you that we’ve never, as a coaching staff and me personally, have never viewed any video footage at all of anything that those production people have done, other than what’s shown on public television or something like that. But we don’t have anything to do with what they do, so I really don’t have much knowledge of the situation at all.”
The league has not announced a timeline for its investigation, though as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, it may be difficult for the Patriots to avoid some sort of sanction given their dubious past. For what it’s worth, Belichick was fined $500K and the Patriots were stripped of a 2008 first-round draft pick when they videotaped the Jets’ sideline from an unauthorized location during a 2007 game.
Luckily for Pats fans, though, the league apparently does not believe that this incident rises to the level of the original Spygate, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.