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Patriots accused of illegally filming Bengals’ sideline: NFL announces that no potential discipline or timetable have been set just yet

The NFL is investigating the Patriots once more.

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Kansas City Chiefs Vs. New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Update 1/4/2019: NFL announces that no potential discipline or timetable have been set just yet

Shortly after the reports that the New England Patriots are expected to be disciplined for filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline in Week 14 and a decision could come within the next two weeks, the NFL released a statement saying that nothing is decided just yet:

The investigation is ongoing and there has been no discussion of any potential discipline. Any suggestion of potential discipline or a timeline on an announcement is pure speculation.

The Washington Post’s Mark Maske added that the “[i]nvestigation is not yet done and league leaders have not begun their final deliberations about potential penalties, pending NFL Security sending a final report.”

Update 1/4/2019: New England expected to be disciplined for violating game-day protocol; final decision to come soon

The New England Patriots are expecting to get disciplined by the NFL for violating game-day protocol when filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and an announcement could come within the next two weeks. How the discipline looks like still remains to be seen and will likely depend on whether or not a link can be established between the film crew and the Patriots’ football operations. So far, as previously reported, such a link has not been found.

Update 1/1/2019: NFL investigation reportedly finds no link to New England’s football operations

According to the Washington Post’s Mark Maske, the NFL’s investigation into the Patriots’ videotaping affair has not found any link to the football operations and “no evidence so far of a sustained effort to gain a competitive advantage.” This means that is likely the league will impose standard discipline against the organization — most likely a fine or possibly the loss of a lower-round draft choice.

Update 12/15/2019: Suspended videographer releases statement about the incident

David Mondillo, a currently suspended Kraft Sports and Entertainment videographer responsible for illegally taping the Bengals’ sideline last week, released a statement on Sunday to share his perspective of the matter:

On December 8th, I was doing what I have done for what I have for more than 18 years — working to produce high-quality content that tells the unique, behind-the-scenes stories of people, players, and the organization. It never occurred to me that my actions and the actions of my crew would be misconstrued.

Our department was charged with completing four “Do Your Job” segments before the end of the year. One of the segments was to follow a pro scout throughout his week to show the audience what his job entails.

Before the shoot began, I obtained permission and received credentials and a parking pass for Sunday’s game.

With permission in hand, we started taping on December 6th — following the scout’s travel through the weekend to Cleveland and obtained footage of him working in his hotel room and interviewed him about his job. The final element needed to complete the story was to shoot from the press box at Progressive Field to show the audience what his responsibilities are on game day.

We went directly to the press box and set up our camera to get the footage we needed. We interviewed and shot the Patriots scout sitting in a chair watching the action and panned back and forth from him to what he was seeing on the sidelines. We also took footage of the field as the intent was to show what he was looking at when he looked through his binoculars watching the game.

At that point, I went to the restroom and when I came back, my cameraman was told to stop shooting by someone from the NFL and he was joined by two others from the Bengals organization and an additional NFL security person. We stopped shooting immediately when asked to do so and cooperated fully. We had a detailed exchange about who we were and why we were there and what they wanted us to do. I gave the Sony SXS card to NFL security and we complied with their request, packed up, and went home. I had no intention to provide footage to football operations, I did not provide any footage, and I was never asked to do so.

Update 12/15/2019: FOX shows part of the Patriots’ sideline video

Jay Glazer, NFL insider for FOX, obtained part of the sideline video filmed by the Patriots last week and it includes an exchange behind the videographer and members of the Bengals’ staff:

Update 12/14/2019: Patriots likely to be penalized for videotaping incident in Cincinnati

While the NFL has yet do announce potential discipline for the Patriots in regards to the videotaping incident that took place in Cincinnati one week later, it is reportedly likely to penalize the organization at least in some form. According to the Washington Post’s Mark Maske, the league is “contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules.”

Maske added that the penalty could therefore be “a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss of reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower level pick.”

Update 12/10/2019: NFL reportedly ‘inclined to believe’ the Patriots’ explanation of the videotaping incident

The NFL’s owners are currently meeting in Las Colinas, Texas and while the topic of the Patriots’ video controversy may not be on the official agenda it is certainly on a lot of minds. There also appears to be some positive momentum towards the league believing New England’s explanation of the events, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: “I do get the [...] sense that the league is inclined to believe the Patriots’ explanation.”

Rapoport added that the team could still get penalized for its admitted violation of NFL policy, but that a fine appears to be the most likely punishment.

Update 12/10/2019: Eight minutes of Bengals sideline caught on tape by Patriots film crew

According to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr, the video crew sent to Cleveland to film a segment on the Patriots’ pro scouting department caught a total of eight minutes of the field on video. This footage, which was obtained by the Bengals, reportedly shows plenty of action:

According to sources who have viewed the tape, it shows about eight minutes of footage focusing on recording the Bengals’ sideline. It’s a direct view of the sideline as players run on and off the field and coaches make signals for plays.

Update 12/09/2019: Patriots release a statement apologizing for ‘unknowingly violating league policy’

The Patriots have released a statement accepting “full responsibility for the actions of [their] production crew at the Browns-Bengals game.” While the statement itself adds little to the information available and what head coach Bill Belichick had to say about the matter during a radio appearance on Monday afternoon, it does point out that independent contractors who were credentialed by the Browns were involved and that league policy was “unknowingly violat[ed].”

Please click here to read the full statement.

Update 12/09/2019: Bill Belichick addresses Bengals’ accusations, denies involvement

Shortly after the reports about the Bengals’ accusations against the Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick appeared on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show and also addressed the topic. The future Hall of Famer denied any wrongdoing or involvement on the part of the Patriots’ football staff.

“I heard about this, and evidently this is our production people on the TV show that were there,” he said. “I have absolutely nothing to do — we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce, direct, shoot or anything. I’ve never even seen any of their tapes or anything else. So this is something that we 100 percent have zero involvement with. This is something that you would have to talk to the production people about and what they were doing and whatever it was.”

“We’ve never seen anything that they’ve shot, other than what’s been on TV,” Belichick added. “I guess there’s some kind of [show] that they do with different departments. They have trainers and equipment people and scouts and so forth. Again, I have no idea, so you’d have to talk to them about exactly what the project was. But from a football standpoint, we have absolutely nothing to do with the production people and what they do for the TV show and everything else, other than I tape a TV show with them.”

“But there’s no involvement whatsoever with them. I’ve never seen a tape or anything that they’ve shot anywhere in any capacity,” he continued before going deeper into what the scouting department can or can not do in regards to filming. “A scout can’t film the opponents as an advance scout, and our video people aren’t even allowed to point a camera at our opponents in pregame warmup or their side of the field or anything else to test out their equipment.”

“They 100 percent know — all of our scouts, all of our video people and everything — they absolutely know what that is. And again, I have nothing to do with the TV production shows. I have no idea what they do or what their projects are or anything else,” concluded Belichick.

Original story 12/09/2019: Patriots accused of illegally videotaping Bengals: Reports point to no wrongdoing

During a press conference on Monday, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was asked about rumors that the New England Patriots have been accused by his organization of illegally videotaping their sideline during last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Taylor acknowledged an incident and that the league was indeed investigating the matter. And for 30 minutes that remained the available information.

Naturally, the story started to spread like proverbial wildfire across NFL media: the league’s most successful franchise — one that was clouded in controversy before due to alleged involvement in the Spygate and Deflategate affairs of 2007 and 2015, respectively — was again involved in a potential scandal. However, it turned out that the scandal in question was merely Cincinnati misinterpreting the situation.

According to numerous reports, the Patriots were indeed filming in Cleveland on Sunday but not ti gain an illegal advantage on their upcoming opponent. Instead, the team was shooting another episode of its “Do Your Job” documentary — portraying its scouting department. The video crew did reportedly not film the field or the Bengals, but the scout that is at the center of the episode.

The Browns were apparently briefed on the situation and own a copy of the tape, the Bengals as the visiting team were not aware. They saw suspicious activity and reported the matter to the NFL, which opened an investigation. While no official statement has been made by the league just yet, by the sounds of it the situation is not one that should result in any discipline for the teams involved. Of course, the NFL is not exactly famous for handling investigations well.