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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Report: Patriots videographer had never worked road game, didn’t know rules

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have accepted responsibility for illegally filming the field during Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, but they maintain that the incident was a misunderstanding and had nothing to do with gathering intel. For many, the answer to what actually went on comes down to one question.

Do you really think they would be that dumb?

The Patriots have said in a statement that a member of their video production crew “unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and the sideline from the press box.” Ben Volin of The Boston Globe learned a bit more about the videographer, and a source told him he is a full-time employee of Kraft Sports Productions who had previously never worked at a road game. He is apparently allowed to stand and shoot near the bench area (presumably New England’s bench) during games at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots claim he simply did not know league rules prohibited him from filming the field from the press box.

Skeptics will tell you that sounds like a typical excuse from an organization that is known for finding loopholes and bending the rules. However, if you believe the Patriots knew they were violating the rules and were trying to spy on the Bengals, you must believe they are also one of the dumbest organizations in the history of sports. The Bengals are reportedly “livid” about the filming, which one source described to Volin as “just bold and reckless.”

In some ways, that makes New England’s explanation more plausible. Another source told Volin that the cameraman made no effort to conceal what he was doing, which serves as evidence that the violation was a result of a misunderstanding and not an attempt to cheat.

“You would not go in wearing a Bruins shirt, put a camera on a tripod in the press box, and hope nobody notices,” the source said.

If you want to say Bill Belichick and the Patriots are arrogant enough to do something like that, there is probably no convincing you otherwise. However, it seems unlikely that Belichick would have responded to the allegations as quickly as he did if the filming was part of a directive from him. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get your ducks in a row before commenting if you have something to hide?

The Patriots maintain that they were filming the field for part of their “Do Your Job” documentary. The production crew in Cleveland was supposedly giving a glimpse into how an advanced scout prepares for an upcoming opponent, so perhaps the videographer thought nothing of shooting the field to capture what it is the scout is looking at.

We understand the Patriots have not earned the benefit of the doubt, and they still could face disciplinary action because of their history. Whatever is on the tape the NFL has examined could also tell us more about the incident, but basic common sense would tell you it is at least possible that Belichick and the Patriots are telling the truth this time. If not, it’s amazing they have managed to win six championships while being so mind-bogglingly reckless.

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