The New England Patriots acknowledged Monday that they violated NFL rules when a video crew working for them shot footage of the field and the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during the Bengals-Browns game Sunday in Cleveland.
The Patriots’ admission came in a written statement released Monday night while the league was in the process of reviewing the video. It was not immediately clear what punishment, if any, the Patriots will face from the league. The NFL declined to comment Monday night.
“We understand and acknowledge that our video crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box,” the Patriots said in the statement.
The video crew had been credentialed by the Browns, according to the Patriots, to shoot an online feature on a scout who was attending the game. The feature was part of an online series of “Do Your Job” episodes that also has included day-in-the-life features on members of the Patriots’ training and equipment staffs, the team said.
“The production crew is independent of our football operation,” the Patriots said in the statement. “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. We accept full responsibility for the actions of our production crew at the Browns-Bengals game.”
Bengals officials noticed the video being shot in the press box in Cleveland by a Patriots staffer and notified the league, according to people with knowledge of the developments. The Bengals face the Patriots on Sunday in Cincinnati and apparently were wary that the videographer might have been shooting the Bengals’ sideline during the loss to the Browns.
The NFL, after an investigation, 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 pick.
Bengals Coach Zac Taylor made the latest issue public when he was asked about the topic during a news conference Monday. He said the league was investigating and declined to comment further.
Belichick told Boston-area radio station WEEI on Monday that there was no wrongdoing by the team’s football staff.
“I heard about this,” he told the station, “and evidently this is our production people on the TV show that were there and . . . we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot. I have never even seen any of their tapes or anything else. This is something that we 100% have zero involvement with.”
The Patriots said their failure to notify the Bengals and the NFL in advance was “an unintended oversight.”
The Patriots also said: “The sole purpose of the filming was to provide an illustration of an advance scout at work on the road. There was no intention of using the footage for any other purpose. We understand and acknowledge that our video crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box. When questioned, the crew immediately turned over all footage to the league and cooperated fully.”