NFL Rumors: League Should Ban New England Patriots From Playoffs After Video Scandal, Columnist Says

Bill Belichick during an NFL game.
Timothy Ludwig / Getty Images

The NFL should bar the New England Patriots from competing in the playoffs after their latest alleged cheating scandal, a columnist says.

Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star is calling for the league to come down hard on the Patriots after the team’s film crew was caught illegally taping the Cincinnati Bengals sidelines last week. The Patriots admitted to the infraction and said the film crew was not connected to football operations, instead getting footage for the web series Do Your Job that is published on the team’s website.

But video released on Sunday appeared more damaging than the statement let on. As The Inquisitr reported, a clip of the confrontation between a member of the Bengals security team and the Patriots film crew showed that the videographers were recording the Cincinnati sidelines and appeared to be focusing on substitution packages. The videographer repeatedly asked if he could delete the footage and make the problem go away, but it is now subject to a league investigation and potential punishment for the team already hit with league-record fines for the 2008 Spygate scandal.

As Doyel wrote, the NFL now needs to send a message to the repeat offender Patriots.

“How about this: Kick them out of the 2019 NFL playoffs,” he wrote.

Doyel added that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to “hit the Patriots so hard, they never cheat again.” He noted that past fines and docked draft picks for other scandals — including Deflategate — haven’t seemed to deter them from continuing to cheat.

The move would be unprecedented. While the NFL has come down hard on New England for past infractions — docking the team a first-round draft pick for the original Spygate — it has never banned a team from postseason play and it is not clear if the league would have any protocol for doing so. The 11-3 Patriots are currently second in the AFC and on pace for a first-round bye. If they were to be banned from the postseason, the Buffalo Bills would presumably win the AFC East and the Kansas City Chiefs would move up to the No. 2 spot and the bye that comes with it.

Doyel acknowledged that the scenario was far from likely, but others have suggested harsh punishments for the team’s latest indiscretion. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote that the leaked footage looked nothing like an innocent mistake. The Washington Post noted that the team could face a range of punishments, from large fines to forfeited draft picks.

The league has not yet given an indication of what punishment the Patriots could face.