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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Report: Bill Belichick, Patriots football staff not tied to videotaping Bengals

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick immediately denied having any hand in the New England Patriots taking video footage of the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during a game last month, and the NFL has found nothing that would indicate the coach is lying.

It has been nearly a month since the NFL launched an investigation into a member of a Patriots video crew filming the Bengals, and Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports that no evidence has been found linking Belichick or any member of his football staff to the incident. The investigation is winding down and the findings will still need to be reviewed by commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials, but it does not sound like Belichick is going to be personally disciplined in any way.

The team, however, is another story. The Patriots admitted they violated NFL rules by videotaping the Bengals’ sideline from the press box during a Bengals-Browns game, though they insist they were only doing so for part of a documentary about the responsibilities of an advanced scout. The producer of the documentary has since been suspended, and he explained himself in a statement released through the team.

Whether it was an innocent mistake or not, that would still be considered an infraction. The most likely scenario is that the Patriots will face disciplinary action similar to the punishment that was handed down when the Atlanta Falcons were caught piping in crowd noise in 2016 and the Cleveland Browns used a cell phone to send text messages during a game between the general manager and head coach. The Falcons were fined $350,000, lost a fifth-round draft pick, and president Rich McKay was suspended from the league’s competition committee for three months. The Browns were fined $250,000 and former general manager Ray Farmer was suspended for four games.

Assuming Belichick truly did have nothing to do with the videotaping, you can understand the report regarding how he felt about the incident. Another videotaping scandal was the last thing the Patriots needed given their history with Spygate, and it must be frustrating if it was simply a lack of understanding of league rules from some video production people.

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