ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The NFL fined the Denver Broncos and coach Josh McDaniels $50,000 each because the team's video operations director broke league rules by filming a San Francisco 49ers practice in London last month.
The NFL investigation determined Steve Scarnecchia took the six-minute video of the walkthrough and presented it that day to McDaniels. The coach declined to view it.
But the NFL fined both the coach and team because the matter was not promptly reported, as required by the league.
"We certainly did not view or do anything with the footage, and he was made aware that it was something we didn't condone in our organization," McDaniels said Saturday. "I failed to follow through and report it to the proper individuals in our organization and with the league."
Scarnecchia and McDaniels previously worked for the New England Patriots, who were found to have violated league rules when they videotaped New York Jets coaches sending in signals during a game four years ago in a scandal dubbed Spygate.
Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis said the team was aware Scarnecchia had been involved in Spygate, but not the specifics, when hired.
"He knew full well coming in what was expected of him in terms of the type of behavior we expect out of him," Ellis said on a conference call.
Scarnecchia was fired by the Broncos and notified by commissioner Roger Goodell that as a repeat violator of league rules regarding integrity he faced a hearing to determine if he would be banned from the NFL.
NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash said there was no evidence McDaniels was involved with the videotaping in New England.
The investigation concerned practices at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 30, the day before the 49ers' 24-16 win over the Broncos. It was the only time the teams worked out on the same field in London.
Ellis said the Broncos promptly notified the NFL after their executives learned of the violation. He declined to reveal how they became aware.
"Their ownership and executives had their moral compass pointing in right direction," Pash said.
He added: "I think they've set an example of how an incident of this type should be properly handled."
The NFL determined Broncos executives were made aware of the videotaping Nov. 8 and told the league about it four days later after an internal review. On Nov. 16, owner Pat Bowlen and Broncos executives met with league officials in New York.
After that meeting, the NFL security began its investigation, which included interviews of Broncos personnel and an analysis of laptop computers used by the team's video department. It was confirmed the 49ers' practice had been recorded, and the league retained that tape.
"This incident cuts into the trust and respect our fans, our ticket holders, our community and our fellow competitors have for our organization. … We will take all steps to ensure that an incident like this never occurs again," Bowlen said in a statement.
Scarnecchia worked for the Patriots in the early 2000s. McDaniels, who worked in New England from 2001-09, hired him in Denver shortly after he became the Broncos' coach 22 months ago.
Scarnecchia acknowledged to NFL investigators he taped the walkthrough, according to excerpts from Goodell's letter to Bowlen.
The letter stated that Scarnecchia maintained that he had not previously recorded a walkthrough or other practice or "engaged in any other improper videotaping (such as recording coaching signals of an opposing team) since joining the Broncos."
The letter also said Scarnecchia "knew that what he did in London was wrong," that taping the walkthrough was his decision alone and nobody instructed him to record the practice.
In addition, the investigation found that when Scarnecchia offered to show the tape to McDaniels, the coach replied, "No, I'm not doing that." Scarnecchia said he didn't show the tape to any other staff member.
Goodell's letter to Bowlen said that McDaniels was interviewed "under circumstances that would have made it impossible for him to have spoken to Mr. Scarnecchia in advance" and that McDaniels' recollection of events matched Scarnecchia's.
"Although I find no fault with the way the club handled this matter once you and your executives became aware of it, I nonetheless believe that some penalty must be imposed," Goodell wrote. "We have no more important responsibility than preserving the integrity and competitive fairness of the game and avoiding any implication that games are decided by anything other than what takes place on the field."
The letter added: "This appears to be a single incident by an employee who acted entirely on his own; there was no competitive effect; and, most importantly, the Broncos promptly took the initiative to report the violation. Had any of those factors not been present, I would have almost certainly imposed much more substantial discipline on the club."
The league had issued $750,000 in fines against the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick and stripped of New England of its 2008 first-round draft pick for what were found to be repeated violations.
Goodell said that while McDaniels "apparently declined to look at the tape, I also believe that he should have immediately advised you or one of your senior executives when he learned what Mr. Scarnecchia had done."
Goodell cited a policy in which team executives, head coaches and others are obliged to promptly report violations tied to the integrity of the game. Pash said that as a coordinator and head coach, McDaniels would have been required to file a report with the league at the end of each season that acknowledged the policy.
The commissioner added that teams are "ultimately accountable for the conduct" of those in their prganization. He said a a "significant number of club employees" have certified in writing they are aware of no further policy violations. Goodell stressed that if further information came to light, the league would reopen the investigation and, if necessary, impose further discipline.
This is the latest embarrassment for a Broncos team that is 3-7 and has lost 15 of 20 for the first time since 1971-72. The Broncos, who face St. Louis at Invesco Field on Sunday, were routed 59-14 by archrival Oakland last month in what many consider the worst home loss in the team's 51-year history.
Ellis said McDaniels made a mistake, but it wasn't a fireable offense.
"We're disappointed with the season as it's gone thus far," he said. "But we have six games left to play and this particular incident that one employee decided to take does not sway Mr. Bowlen's feeling about Josh one way or the other."
Ellis said Broncos officials had contacted their counterparts in San Francisco. The 49ers released a statement saying the team had no comment.
"I don't really care about that stuff, seriously," coach Mike Singletary told reporters. "It didn't affect us, let's just move on."
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