The New England Patriots are not expected to face severe discipline after a video crew under team employment was caught filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during their game last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, according to a report Tuesday.
The NFL launched an investigation of the incident and could make a determination as early as this week, the Washington Post reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. While the review is still in its early stages, it is not currently expected to result in significant penalties.
A previous videotaping incident involving the Patriots resulted in some of the harshest penalties the NFL has ever implemented.
In the 2007 scandal known as “Spygate,” the NFL fined the Patriots $250,000 and forced the team to forfeit a first-round draft pick after uncovering evidence that New England had illicitly filmed the New York Jets’ defensive coaching signals during a game. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick received a $500,000 fine for his role in that incident.
The Patriots drew renewed scrutiny this week after Bengals officials noticed an individual filming the field from the press box during the team’s 27-19 loss to the Browns last Sunday. The team notified NFL security, triggering an investigation.
In a statement late Monday, the Patriots acknowledged that a three-person video crew had captured footage of a Patriots scout in attendance at the game for use in a feature segment of the team’s documentary series “Do Your Job.” The team identified the video crew as independent contractors who unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box.
“The production crew is independent of our football operation,” the team said in a 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.”
Belichick said Tuesday that he had no direct knowledge or involvement in the video crew’s actions at the game.
"Since that's [Spygate] happened, I'd say we've tried to keep a good distance behind the line and not maybe take it as far as we would might have in the past. But it's never really fundamentally changed there,” Belichick said.