FOXBOROUGH - It was an unseasonably warm day last January as the Patriots hosted the Jets in a playoff game at Gillette Stadium. At one point, while the sellout crowd of 68,756 focused on the action, a Jets cameraman was told to stop filming from a spot above the north end zone.
It hardly registered on the radar at the time, but the incident created a stir yesterday, more than 11 months after the fact.
The Patriots, Jets, and videotaping. Here we go again.
The buzz began when Newsday reported the incident in yesterday's editions. In the wake of the Patriots being penalized for illegally filming the signals of Jets defensive coaches in this year's opener, the question was whether the Jets also had been using illegal videotaping practices.
Yesterday, Jets coach Eric Mangini described the actions as standard operating procedure and a common courtesy, and late yesterday the NFL confirmed that the team did not violate league rules.
As for what happened Jan. 7 at Gillette Stadium, Mangini said the Jets were granted permission by the Patriots to shoot from both end zones, although that could not be confirmed through New England officials. Mangini confirmed that during the game, a camera operator was asked to leave the area near the lighthouse in the stadium.
"What we do every away game is we tape our team from both end zones, whenever it's possible," Mangini said. "We always ask for permission to do that. It's granted, provided there is a physical space to do that. It's to get the same angle you get in practice, and anybody that asks us to do it, we extend the same courtesy. It's pretty common one way or the other, depending on how teams like to look at their game tape, and that's really what it was."
Mangini added that the camera operator was not taping the defensive signals of Patriots coaches. He also said the Jets filmed from the same location in a Nov. 12, 2006, regular-season game against the Patriots.
Asked why the Jets were stopped from filming in the playoff game, after apparently having been giving permission to do so, Mangini said: "I don't know. Really, it just was what it was. We had asked for permission, it was granted, and then that changed, and we respect their decision. It's their stadium."
The league's operations manual states that "no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." Furthermore, all video shooting locations for coaching purposes "must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."
While the Jets cameraman was not in an enclosed location - there isn't one in Gillette Stadium's north end zone - the NFL said yesterday the team was not in violation of league rules.
"It is not uncommon for visiting team video crews to request permission to shoot coaching video from both upper end zone positions," spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Home clubs must provide visiting clubs with equal vantage points for the taping of games. Teams typically shoot coaching video from one upper 50-yard line location and one upper end zone location, but there are no restrictions on shooting from both upper end zone positions as long as the opportunity is provided to both teams. No permission is needed from the league office."
The question of whether the Patriots granted the Jets permission was not answered yesterday, as coach Bill Belichick dodged all video-related questions.
"There's a lot of things that have happened in the past or been talked about in the past, and really, all of the past is in the past," he said. "I don't care about any of those. Right now, my focus is on the New York Jets."
So, too, was his players' mind-set.
"We're not focused on all the nonsense that's going on, the so-called Spygate or anything like that," safety Rodney Harrison said. "That's just a bunch of hype."
Other players echoed that the Jets' actions in Week 1 have had nothing to do with the Patriots' approach this season, or for Sunday's game between the teams.
"I wouldn't give them that much credit," tight end Benjamin Watson said. "That whole thing, Week 1, was so long ago."
Cornerback Asante Samuel added: "All the stuff that was in the media, Spygate and all that stuff, it doesn't matter to us."
Meanwhile, the Jets have not asked for permission to shoot from both end zones Sunday.
"We just didn't look to get permission," Mangini said. "Didn't think it would be granted."
Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.