NFL hopes to decide quickly whether to punish Patriots for taping Bengals’ sideline

Ahead of the Patriots-Bengals matchup on Sunday, the New England Patriots have been linked to a videotaping controversy against their opponents. AP Photo/Tom Uhlman

IRVING, Texas – The NFL has begun its review of the video shot by New England Patriots representatives at Sunday’s game between the Bengals and Browns game, and hopes to move quickly toward making a determination about whether to punish the Patriots for their admitted violation of league policy.

According to one person familiar with the deliberations, a resolution is possible as soon as this week. One consideration for the league, according to that person, is determining whether the video shows anything that could not have been seen on a TV shot or on the coaches’ tape from the game.


The league, at least initially, did not seem to believe that severe sanctions against the Patriots were likely, but it was still in the early portion of its review.

After an investigation, the NFL punished the Patriots in 2007 in the Spygate scandal for videotaping opposing coaching signals in violation of league rules. The league fined the team and coach Bill Belichick a total of $750,000 and stripped the Patriots of a first-round draft choice.

The NFL did not immediately comment on a report by The Athletic that the video shot Sunday contains approximately eight minutes of footage focusing on the Bengals’ sideline during their loss to the Browns in Cleveland.

NFL officials, owners and team executives were gathering Tuesday at a Dallas-area resort for a two-day league meeting. The Bengals and Patriots play this Sunday in Cincinnati.

The Patriots said the video was shot by a crew working for them to prepare an online feature on one of the team’s scouts. The crew was credentialed by the Browns but the Patriots said they neglected to inform the Bengals and the NFL beforehand. The Patriots acknowledged that the crew “unknowingly” violated NFL policy by shooting footage of the field and Bengals’ sideline from the press box.


The footage was not shot to aid the Patriots’ football operations, the team said.

“The production crew is independent of our football operation,” the Patriots said in a written statement released Monday night. “While aware that one of the scouts was being profiled for a ‘Do Your Job’ episode, our football staff had no other involvement whatsoever in the planning, filming or creative decisions made during the production of these features.”

The team said it accepts “full responsibility for the actions of our production crew at the Browns-Bengals game.”

Belichick told a Boston radio station Monday there was no wrongdoing by the Patriots’ football staff. He reiterated that to reporters Tuesday.

“We’re competitive and we’ll try to be competitive in every area,” Belichick told Cincinnati-area reporters in a conference call, according to ESPN. “But we don’t knowingly, intentionally want to do anything that’s across the line.”


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