There will be no repeat of the major Spygate punishments for the New England Patriots latest sideline taping drama, a new report indicates.
The Patriots are facing an NFL investigation after the team admitted that its film crew illegally filmed the sidelines of the Cincinnati Bengals while putting together a segment on its advance scouting team. Bengals security confronted the film crew as it was collecting video of the team's sidelines and substitutions, and the Patriots later admitted that the crew had violated NFL rules -- unintentionally, as they insist.
New England officials maintained that the footage never made its way to the team's football operations, and a league investigation may have confirmed that. As The Washington Post reported, the league found no evidence connecting coach Bill Belichick or any others from the Patriots football staff to the video.
Belichick faced some major punishment in the original Spygate scandal when the Patriots were caught illegally filming sidelines signals of the New York Jets in 2007. At the time, Belichick was personally fined $500,000 -- the largest ever imposed on a coach in league history to that point. New England was fined another $250,000 and docked a first-round draft pick.
As the report noted, the league is not leaning toward such big punishments for the latest taping scandal and will instead treat it like other game-day infractions -- meaning a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the loss or reduction of a draft pick, The Washington Post noted. It was not clear if the NFL planned to treat the Patriots as a repeat offender.
The NFL has conducted a thorough investigation of the latest allegations, the report added.
"The NFL originally had hoped to move quickly through its probe and decide on penalties. The process slowed when the investigation was turned over to NFL security officials to conduct interviews and sort through evidence, apparently including text messages and emails," the report noted. "But the league all along has appeared to consider the Patriots' violation a typical game-day violation worthy of typical game-day disciplinary measures, and that does not seem to have changed."There were some who called for harsh penalties on Belichick, specifically if it were found that he had any knowledge of the taping scheme. As The Inquisitr noted, analyst Shannon Sharpe said on Undisputed that the New England coach "has to go" if it were proven that the coaching staff was somehow in on the plan to tape the Bengals sidelines.