The New England Patriots have acknowledged that a member of a film crew that was working for the team violated a league rule during Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, but they insist nothing was done with a goal of gaining a competitive advantage. Some people will undoubtedly feel that the footage indicates otherwise.
The Patriots say a production crew was filming one of their advanced scouts in the press box at FirstEnergy Stadium for part of their “Do Your Job” documentary. A statement from the team expressed regret for not informing the Bengals ahead of time and for “inappropriately” filming the field. According to a report from Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, that inappropriate filming involved a camera focused directly on Cincinnati’s sideline for roughly eight minutes.
As a source described to Dehner, the footage did not simply show the Bengals’ sideline in the background or over the shoulder of the scout who was being filmed. It was a direct view of the sideline, which is why the videographer was confronted.
“The sole purpose of the filming was to provide an illustration of an advance scout at work on the road,” the Patriots’ statement said. “There was no intention of using the footage for any other purpose.”
That will now be up for the NFL to decide. The Patriots immediately took responsibility for breaking league rules in an attempt to prevent “Spygate 2” from becoming a thing. It’s quite possible that what happened on Sunday is nothing like what happened more than a decade ago, and Bill Belichick was emphatic in trying to distance himself from it. Still, it’s not hard to imagine the NFL coming down hard on the team given the history.