The Patriots last week were caught filming the Bengals sideline from the press box last week in Cleveland. Bill Belichick denied involvement or knowledge, and the team put out a statement saying it was a contracted film crew doing a feature on a Patriots advance scout.
Opinions on the validity of that statement were split three ways.
- A lot of people thought it was impossibly unlikely that the Patriots, of all teams, could accidentally do something like this considering the ramifications of anything similar to Spygate happening again.
- A lot of people thought those ramifications meant it must have been an accident, because why would the Patriots risk this kind of scrutiny just to get an edge on the 1-12 Bengals?
- And finally, a very small minority of people in the greater Boston area thought that everyone was out to get them, because six Super Bowl wins in nine trips over the last twenty years is a sure sign that you’re fighting an uphill battle against a corrupt authority.
On today’s Fox NFL Sunday, Jay Glazer released footage of what the video crew was filming, complete with the recorded confrontation between the crew and Bengals security. That led into a panel discussion in which the FOX crew pretty much broke down into the first two of the above groups.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 15, 2019
The disbelief of the Bengals security crew is truly palpable there, and it’s probably shared by most viewers as well, whether you think this is a case of malice or just incompetence. In any case, as Glazer notes, it’s clearly at least some kind of violation, no matter how hard Jimmy Johnson was working to excuse it. And any punishment would certainly have to factor in previous issues, whether or not the NFL ultimately concludes it was truly an isolated incident in this case.
Still, it’s also important to remember that one of the ways the Patriots disguised previous spying was to tell the people recording to say they were part of a video crew. That’s certainly all part of the equation, and while Glazer did say the league wants to make a quick ruling, it’s hard to tell what that means on the NFL’s sliding scale.
Finally, as of this writing, the Patriots are up 7-0 on the Bengals with 11:44 remaining in the first quarter.