By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots have long admitted to inappropriately videotaping the Bengals’ sideline from the press box at the Browns’ stadium four weeks ago. But the question all along is whether there’s any connection between the video crew that committed the violation and the Patriots’ football operation.
Apparently, that question still remains – but it won’t stop the Patriots from being punished anyway. According to top NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport, the Pats are expected to be disciplined for the actions of the video crew in the Bengals incident. Both reports added, however, that the NFL is not done receiving “security reports” as part of their investigation.
Schefter uses other recent violations by NFL teams as a basis for the Patriots’ discipline, which he says is expected within the next two weeks. Recent penalties for the Browns’ illegal texting during a game and the Falcons’ pumping of artificial crowd noise into their stadium went beyond just fines for the teams. Browns GM Ray Farmer received a four-game suspension and Falcons president Rich McKay was suspended from the NFL’s competition committee.
The Falcons also lost a fifth-round pick as part of their game day violation. So losing draft selections and/or suspending people from the Patriots’ football operation would indicate that the league found some connection between them and the video crew. That, or it’s what many in New England are likely feeling on Saturday: that the league’s other owners are desperate to find such a connection, or punish the Patriots harshly regardless of whether they do.
It’s hard not to believe that the league is purposely waiting out their investigation in order to see if they can pin Bill Belichick or another member of the Patriots’ football staff to the video crew, which were members of Kraft Sports Productions and not officially part of the Patriots’ football operation. The latest reports are consistent with what sources close to the investigation told Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, that the league is growing frustrated that it can’t connect the Patriots to the videotaping after interviewing several members of the organization.
Regardless, it sure looks like the Patriots will at a minimum get hit with a heavy fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If they can’t establish a real connection between the video crew and the football staff, docking them draft picks or suspending people within the football operation would be an overreach. In other words, the league’s decision isn’t going to change anyone’s minds on them or the Patriots.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.