Bill Belichick said he had no knowledge that a film crew employed by the New England Patriots was taping coaches on the Cincinnati Bengals’ sidelines during their game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
If Belichick did know, Shannon Sharpe said, then he needs to be shown the door.
As ESPN noted, the Patriots head coach spoke out quickly after the team admitted that a videographer violated league rules by taking videos of coaches of their upcoming opponent on the sidelines. The scandal drew comparisons to the team’s 2007 “Spygate” scandal where the team was caught taping signals of the New York Jets and earned some of the biggest fines the league has ever handed down, along with the loss of a first-round draft pick.
Belichick said there was nothing intentional about Sunday’s incident, noting that the team has been especially careful after Spygate.
“We’re competitive and we’ll try to be competitive in every area,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “But we don’t knowingly, intentionally want to do anything that’s across the line.”
“But since that’s [Spygate] happened, I’d say we’ve tried to keep a good distance behind the line and not maybe take it as far as we would might have in the past. But it’s never really fundamentally changed there.”
The NFL is continuing to investigate the allegations, and some reports appear to contradict with the explanation from the Patriots that the film crew was collecting video for a segment on the work of the team’s advance scouts, who are tasked with gathering information on upcoming opponents. Zak Keefer of The Athletic reported on Twitter that sources who have seen the video in question say it includes eight minutes of footage focusing on the Bengals sidelines, which would not seem to be needed in a segment about a scout who was not on the sidelines being filmed.
Some are already taking aim at Belichick. Speaking in a clip from Undisputed posted on Twitter, Shannon Sharpe said that Belichick has a reputation as someone with total control over football operations in the Patriots franchise, noting it would seem odd that he wouldn’t know of the taping.
Sharpe said it is a “bad look” for the Patriots to be caught taping coaches on the sidelines of another team again after such a high-profile incident just over a decade ago. He added that if Belichick is found to have knowledge of what was happening, “then he has to go.”