The NFL is investigating the New England Patriots following allegations from the Cincinnati Bengals who accused the team of sending someone to illegally record them during Sunday’s game, it was reported.
“An official for the Bengals, who were playing at Cleveland Sunday, saw a member of the video crew wearing a Patriots’ shirt and alerted the league, which confiscated the video, according to the source. NFL has video; Patriots say video is a press-box feature of the advance scout,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote on Twitter.
“I’m aware there was an incident, but I know the league is investigating it,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said, according to the NFL Network. “I’ve got no comment.”
According to the NFL Network report, a Cincinnati scout saw the recording in the press box and told an executive. Security then spoke to the Patriots employee and obtained the video, which was then forwarded to the league for a review.
The Washington Post also reported on the NFL’s investigation into the matter, adding that it was at the behest of the Bengals.
NFL Network also reported that New England reached out to the Browns for a videographer to shoot a documentary as part of their “Do Your Job” series.
“There’s nothing nefarious going on. It’s just a piece on a personnel scout,” a Patriots source told the Post.
The Patriots were playing the Chiefs on Sunday, while the Cleveland Browns defeated the Bengals the same day. The Patriots play the Bengals in Week 15.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick told WEEI on Monday that he has nothing to do with the video series.
“I heard about this and evidently, this is our production people on the TV show that were there and I have absolutely nothing to do, we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot,” Belichick said. “I have never even seen any of their tapes or anything else. This is something that we 100 percent have zero involvement with. This is something you’d have to talk to the production people about and what they were doing, or whatever it was. We have never seen anything that they’ve shot, other than what has come down on TV.”
Belichick said that scouts know it is against the NFL’s rules to videotape opponents.
“A scout can’t film the opponents, as an advanced scout,” Belichick said. “Our video people are not even allowed to point the camera at our opponents during 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, absolutely know what that is. Again, I have nothing to do with the TV production shows. I have no idea what they do, what their projects are or anything else.”
In 2007, the Patriots got in trouble with the league for videotaping members of the New York Jets’ coaching staff during a game in a scandal that was later dubbed “Spygate.”
The NFL forced the Patriots to forfeit up a first-round draft pick in 2008 and fined Belichick $500,000. The team received a $250,000 fine.
According to a 2015 article from ESPN about the Spygate scandal, the Patriots’ videographers were told to appear like media members.
“During games, [Matt] Walsh later told investigators, the Patriots’ videographers were told to look like media members, to tape over their team logos or turn their sweatshirt inside out, to wear credentials that said Patriots TV or Kraft Productions. The videographers also were provided with excuses for what to tell NFL security if asked what they were doing: Tell them you’re filming the quarterbacks. Or the kickers. Or footage for a team show,” the report said.