MIAMI — It’s been more than seven weeks since a member of the New England Patriots production team was caught illegally videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline, and the NFL’s investigation into the matter has yet to conclude.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about that investigation Wednesday during his annual Super Bowl week news conference. He declined to offer any update or timeline and disputed the notion the league is taking an unusually long time to issue its ruling.
“Our responsibility is to make sure we’re being extremely thorough,” Goodell said. “We have a responsibility to 31 other clubs. We have a responsibility to our partners. We have a responsibility to fans to understand all of what happened and make sure that something that we don’t know happened didn’t happen.
“So, from our standpoint, we want to make sure we’re being thorough. Our team has been on it. We’ve been focused on it. I think it has not been that lengthy of time. We have obviously been focused on this, but we’re going to get it right. And when we come to a conclusion, we’re certainly going to make sure people are aware.”
The Patriots admitted wrongdoing in the days following the incident, which took place in the Cleveland Browns press box. According to the team, a Patriots staffer taped the Bengals sideline to capture B-roll for an online video feature on a New England advance scout without the knowledge that doing so violated NFL rules.
“The sole purpose of the filming was the provide an illustration of an advance scout at work on the road,” a team spokesperson said in a statement released Dec. 9. “There was no intention of using the footage for any other purpose. We understand and acknowledge that our video crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box.
“When questioned, the crew immediately turned over all footage to the league and cooperated fully. The production crew is independent of our football operation. 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.
“We accept full responsibility for the actions of our production crew at the Browns-Bengals game.”
Mark Maske of The Washington Post reported in early January the NFL had not found any evidence linking head coach Bill Belichick or the Patriots’ football staff to the taping incident. The Patriots are expected to receive some sort of punishment from the league, according to multiple reports.