NFL rewinds to Spygate for Deflategate punishment

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is pictured with quarterback Tom Brady heading to the bench behind him as New England is forced to punt.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is pictured with quarterback Tom Brady heading to the bench behind him as New England is forced to punt. –The Boston Globe

Like any good spy story, Spygate has unexpected blowback.

The NFL said Monday it considered the 2007 video taping scandal when doling out punishment for Deflategate. In addition to suspending quarterback Tom Brady for four games, the league fined the Patriots $1 million and docked them a first-round selection in the 2016 NFL draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft.

In a letter sent to the Patriots on Monday, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, referred to Spygate in explaining that the league considered the Patriots repeat offender.

“Here, there are several factors that merit strong consideration in assessing discipline. The first is the club’s prior record,’’ Vincent wrote. “In 2007 the club and several individuals were sanctioned for videotaping signals of opposing defensive coaches in violation of the Constitution and Bylaws. Under the Integrity of the Game Policy, this prior violation of competitive rules was properly considered in determining the discipline in this case.’’

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Vincent also noted the team’s lack of full cooperation with investigator Ted Wells in determining punishment.

In 2007, the Patriots were found to have videotaped signals of New York Jets defensive coaches from their own sideline in violation of NFL rules. New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were hit with a $250,000 fine for the incident. The team was also ordered to give up a first-round selection in the 2008 draft.

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