The NFL finally punished the New England Patriots for illegally videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline in Cleveland ahead of the teams’ Week 15 matchup last December.
The penalties are relatively steep, with ESPN’s Mike Reiss reporting Sunday the NFL fined the Patriots $1.1 million and took away a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. According to Reiss, the Patriots television production crews also will not be allowed to shoot any games during the 2020 season, and senior club officials will be required to undergo training on NFL operation and game policies.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter appeared on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday morning and raised a valid question: Did the Patriots’ checkered history — Spygate, Deflategate, etc. — ultimately play a role in the severity of the league’s punishment?
“It does seem steep, but I would say this: No. 1, the Patriots admitted that there was a transgression, and No. 2, there was a history,” Schefter said, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “Even though it might seem severe and steep, the NFL has to send a message that even with the Patriots, a team that they’ve had some good, close relationships over time — everyone knows Roger Goodell and (Patriots owner) Robert Kraft have had a good relationship — we’re going to impose punishment as we see fit.
“And in this particular case, the Patriots admitted it, everyone saw the tape, knew something happened, there was previous history. I think if there’s no history, maybe it just goes away — if it’s not a team like the Patriots that has got the attention it has, maybe it just goes away. But because it’s the Patriots, because they have been in the spotlight, because they have had the history, because there’s so much attention on it, there we go, there’s the third-round pick.”
The Patriots admitted in wake of the incident that their production team illegally taped the Bengals’ sideline for a web series, calling it an “unintended oversight” and noting the crew is not part of New England’s football operations department.
The punishment wasn’t the only Patriots-related news to drop Sunday, as New England also reportedly agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden contract with Cam Newton, who presumably will compete with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the team’s starting quarterback job in wake of Tom Brady’s departure.
In fact, Schefter noted there’s at least one way in which the two stories are connected.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images