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#pounditSunday, May 22, 2022

Bill Belichick distances himself from sideline videotaping allegations

Bill Belichick

If a Patriots employee took footage of the Bengals sideline during Cincinnati’s game against the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday, Bill Belichick says it was not done at the request of him or anyone else in his team’s football operations department.

On Monday, the Bengals confirmed that the NFL is investigating an “incident” that took place during their game the day before. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the confusion stemmed from the Patriots receiving permission from the Browns to have an employee in their press box filming a segment for a feature called “Do Your Job.” However, Schefter’s colleague Dianna Russini was told by a source that there was more to it than that.

According to Russini, a Bengals employee observed the Patriots’ videographer recording the Cincinnati sideline for the entire first quarter. When confronted, the videographer reportedly asked if he could just delete the footage so everyone could move on.

Belichick has already responded to the reports. He told WEEI on Monday evening that the football operations department has “absolutely nothing to do with the production people.”

Belichick also said the Patriots “know what the rules are and are in 100 percent compliance with them.”

The Patriots later issued a statement about the matter.

“On Sunday, Dec. 8, the content team sent a three-person video crew to the Bengals-Browns game at FirstEnergy Stadium in order to capture one part of a longer feature on the Patriots scouting department, in this case a Patriots pro personnel scout while he was working in the press box,” the statement from the team said. “While we sought and were granted credentialed access from the Cleveland Browns for the video crew, our failure to inform the Bengals and the League was an unintended oversight. In addition to filming the scout, the production crew — without specific knowledge of League rules — inappropriately filmed the field from the press box. 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.”

You can certainly understand why people would be hesitant to give the Pats the benefit of the doubt, but that was an awfully quick denial from Belichick. If he was knowingly doing something wrong, it seems more likely that he would have taken some time to think about how he was going to address the situation. Plus, would he really be that dumb after all that has gone on with Spygate and Deflategate?

So what might have happened? We obviously need more information, but let’s say the report about the videographer recording the Bengals’ sideline is true. Perhaps the staffer was there to film for an entirely different reason and saw an opportunity. The fact that he allegedly asked for the footage to be deleted could imply that he knew he did something wrong that he wasn’t instructed to do and was trying to save his own you-know-what. Maybe he saw how easy it was to film Cincinnati’s sideline and wanted to take the footage to Belichick and say, “Coach, you’ll never believe what I got!”

This is all speculation, but it’s hard to believe the Patriots would risk filming a lowly opponent like the Bengals. We know teams go to extreme measures in an attempt to prevent Belichick’s team from getting inside information on them, but something about the latest incident doesn’t add up.

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