In what is already being called “Spygate II,” the New England Patriots have been caught with eight minutes of footage of the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during their Week 14 game against the Browns.
NFL fans will remember that the Patriots were embroiled in a different videotaping scandal in 2007. During that season, evidence was found that Patriots employees filmed New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals. The team and head coach Bill Belichick were fined, and New England lost their 2008 first round pick.
New England has responded to the allegations, saying the video crew was in the stadium to film segments for a show, called “Do Your Job.” They also acknowledge that they broke league rules filming the Bengals’ sideline. Below is their full statement, published on Monday night.
Statement from the New England Patriots. pic.twitter.com/rhXdwVvnr8
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 10, 2019
It is entirely possible that the film crew, who were given credentials by the Browns to film in the facility, had a lapse in judgement and filmed the sideline while trying to get footage for the program. Another thing working in New England’s favor is the fact that the 10-3 Patriots likely do not need to cheat to beat the 1-12 Bengals.
But, it is extremely suspicious given the Patriots’ history with “Spygate”. Firstly, eight minutes of tape is heavy overkill for what will only amount to “B-roll.” Second, the Patriots’ next game is against the Cincinnati Bengals. Thus, it would make sense that if they were cheating using video footage again, they would be collecting it against the Bengals at this particular moment.
In an interview with WEEI, Belichick denied knowing anything about the footage, or ever watching anything the production crew filmed (outside of the final cut of the show). But, again, Belichick was fined $500,000 dollars for his role in the original Spygate. That is the maximum fine the NFL can hand out. In 2007, however, Belichick never outright lied about his knowledge of the incident. He only said he “misinterpreted” the rules.
Yet another layer to this scandal is that, apparently, the video crew offered to delete the footage after being caught with it, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
the Bengals employee flagged media relations. Bengals security then interviewed the Kraft videographer. This was also taped. The cameraman asked if they could just delete the footage and it all be forgotten per sources
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) December 9, 2019
Russini also tweeted that the Patriots do not possess the footage in question anymore. It has been given to the Bengals, who will not release it to ESPN. The NFL also has a copy.
It is hard to speculate on what the video crew’s offer to delete the footage means. It could absolutely mean they did not know they were in the wrong, and wondered if getting rid of it meant no harm no foul. Then again, it could also have been a planned fail-safe to throw people off of their trail if they were caught.
In any case, the NFL’s Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Now that the league is inclined to believe the Patriots. He also goes on to say that there still may be punishments, even if it was just a miscommunication issue.
TGH will continue to follow this story as it develops.
Featured Image courtesy of Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports
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