By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The National Football League has finally concluded their investigation hit the New England Patriots with their punishment for last December's filming incident involving the Cincinnati Bengals.
According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, that punishment from the NFL includes $1.1 million in fines and the loss of a 2021 third-round pick. The Patriots' TV crew will also be prohibited from filming games in 2020, while senior club officials will be required to go through training on league operations and game policies.
This feels relatively steep given the existing facts of the case.
For months, the most consistent theme of this investigation was that the NFL was having a difficult time linking the footage, which was filmed by an independent contractor working for Kraft Sports Productions and not a Patriots team employee, to the team itself. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick himself repeatedly noted that the team had 'zero' involvement with the production.
"The football team, the football staff, and the coaching staff had nothing to do with what happened," Belichick said in a Dec. 11 press conference. "Nothing. So, we have no involvement in it."
This matched up with the initial statement the Patriots released regarding the situation, too.
In that statement, the organization stressed that the production crew had nothing to do with the football operation. They also noted that the footage was not going to be used for anything except the team's "Do Your Job" profile on one of their scouts, and acknowledged that while they were granted access from the Browns, who credentialed the crew for the contest, their failure to inform the Bengals and the NFL was an "oversight on their part."
Unless something drastically changed, it seems as if the NFL is connecting dots that just weren't there.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop the league from hitting New England with a seven-digit fine and another pick-stripping punishment.