There’s been plenty of reaction to the Patriots videotaping the Bengals’ sideline during Cincinnati’s matchup against the Browns last Sunday. After a statement was released by the team explaining that the filming was a part of their ongoing series, “Do your job”, in which they were profiling one of their scouts, some remained skeptical of the Patriots’ intentions. The incident has been referred to as the “Spygate sequel”, and Bob Kravitz, the reporter who broke the Deflategate news in 2015, poked fun at another controversy circling the team.
On Sunday, part of the videotape was aired by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, revealing commentary by the Patriots’ videographer, Dave Mondillo, and the angle from which he was filming the Bengals’ sideline. The videographer was reportedly suspended by the team on Sunday.
Here’s what NFL experts are saying about the controversy:
“This is a discussion about motive, the facts are not in dispute…I’m told all options are on the table, including a potential hefty fine. No decision has been made on that yet.”
From @NFLGameDay: As the NFL's investigation into the #Patriots filming activities of the #Bengals continue, all options are on the table for a possible penalty, including a fine. pic.twitter.com/xz71xgchcu
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 15, 2019
“The NFL is likely to penalize the New England Patriots for their admitted violation of league video policy last weekend and is contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules, according to people familiar with the deliberations.”
“The Patriots’ Deflategate penalty is the exception in the cases cited as precedents being studied by the league, and the NFL still does not seem to regard the evidence in this case as being as severe or as voluminous as that in the Spygate case with the Patriots in 2007.”
Ryan Hannable, WEEI: “Clearly, the Patriots employee did not know what he did was wrong, and the video that was shown by Glazer showed only the sideline and the field. There was no panning to the scoreboard to show down and distance, so it would not give the football department any advantage whatsoever. But, that doesn’t even matter because it had nothing to do with the football department. They would never have even seen what was shot.
“Despite all that common sense, nationally the video is being taken the wrong way because of what people want to believe…It was an innocent mistake made by a long-time employee of the Patriots’ production team who didn’t have anything to do with football. What could possibly be gained by what was captured on tape? In 31 other cities it would be classified as a pure mistake, but because the Patriots are the Patriots, here we are.”
Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe: “It’s a weird thing. I kind of believe that Belichick may not know about this recon, but I also believe the people that are there doing it are bringing it back to somebody and saying, ‘Hey, while we were there, here’s a little something.’ The Patriots, there was a small lie at the start of it in that statement the Patriots put out about independent contractors. They made it sound like they grabbed guys off the streets of Cleveland and said, ‘Hey, you got a camera. Come up here and help us out.’
“I do believe Belichick does not like the sports productions and has no use for things that don’t help them competitively and does not have a real connection with those people. I think he’s angry that this goes on his resume and they’re going to get punished for it.”
“The NFL has to punish the Patriots again. How harshly, we don’t know—probably the loss of a draft pick. But the NFL has to hit the franchise for filming the Bengals’ sideline last week, and we know this for the strangest reason of all: The Patriots pleaded guilty, admitting that a production crew illegally taped the Cincinnati sideline from the press box. Really.
“This is probably not egregious like Spygate. It may not get overcooked like Deflategate, and if it lasts as long, we will all need some serious medical help. This may all be, as the Patriots say, an innocent mistake. But it was still against the rules. Your move, Roger. Your move again.”
Jarett Bell, USA Today: “Roger Goodell still needs to drop the hammer…It’s the optics, silly. After Spygate and Deflategate, the Patriots are like the motorist with points attached to their driver’s license for speeding. Intentional or not, the foot of someone associated with the Patriots got a bit heavy to take them over the speed limit again. Even if this latest snag is proven to be nothing like the sign-stealing Spygate episode in 2007, it’s still a repeat violation of an NFL policy that deserves admonishment — not benefit of the doubt.”
Jason La Canfora, CBS: “If you are going to have people shooting in that press box in an unusual manner at a stadium on a game day on which the Patriots were not playing, then someone in management with the team or Kraft has to be smart enough to notify the NFL and the Bengals to make absolutely certain why you are there and what you will be shooting, and then you’d best follow every protocol to the T. Because otherwise you give the appearance that perhaps your motives aren’t sincere. History and all.
“Either way, it’s a terrible look, and one this franchise simply must avoid at all costs. Otherwise the costs will be very real, indeed…”And no matter which low-level employee fixed that camera on the Bengals sideline – if that indeed is what happened – even if he or she was outsourced, the consequences for a repeat offender should be substantial. They should start with yet another sacrificed first-round pick.”
Greg A. Bedard, NFL Writer: “Was really hoping for the Patriots sake that it was going to show both teams subbing after a play. That would have been easier to explain away. This is very tight. But it’s a snippet. Release it all @nflcommish”
Mark Daniels, Providence Journal: “Initially, I thought just a fine. I think the longer this investigation goes, the worse it might be. Still, taking away a draft pick does seem ridiculous, but not surprising considering it’s the NFL”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 10, 2019
“From a logistics stand point, there are really are not many teams actually giving signals either,” Rapoport said on NFL Now. “Maybe you’ll give signal patterns, the body language of a head coach, but this is not like years ago where you’re signaling things in and calls come through the headset now. I do get the same sense that the league is inclined to believe the Patriots explanation.
“Obviously, that doesn’t mean the Patriots are off the hook. They did admit that they did not alert the Bengals [and] the NFL, clearly there was, at the least, a miscommunication here which would lead me to believe based on the people I’ve spoken with that if they got penalized, it will be something along the lines of a fine.”
Mike Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated: “The Patriots are long out of excuses for this kind of transgression. They didn’t know it was illegal (even though the league issued a warning), they were filming field conditions, it’s all for a video feature … nobody in that league wants to hear any of these excuses anymore. There are reasons why many people in the league do not trust them.”
Tom Curran, NBC Boston: “I don’t [think], in any way shape or form from the football-side of things said, ‘Hey, do us a solid and go to Cleveland and make sure you wear your Patriots jersey and videotape the sideline during the game, because nobody will think twice about it.
“It’s going to be serious in the eyes of the league because of the appearances and in the same way, I think that Deflategate rose to something that Rodger Goodell was a hanging judge with. This will be the same, to a degree.”
Karen Guregian, Boston Herald: “We’ll see how quickly Goodell acts. If there’s nothing to it, and it’s as harmless as the Patriots claim, this shouldn’t take long. If the league believes there’s more to it, and wants to investigate further and interview a longer list of people before reaching a verdict on a possible penalty, get out the popcorn.
“With a history on the resume, an admission, and it being a repeat violation, Goodell will likely have to come down with another stiff penalty. At the very least, a huge fine. He’ll start with that, and we’ll see if it goes further.”
Mike Reiss, ESPN: “Will have to see how league views Patriots’ explanation, which makes it seem like an honest mistake.”
Pete Prisco, CBS: “Do the Patriots really need to tape the Bengals? Come on.”