November 27, 2010
If there's one guy you'd think would be aware of the perils of illegally videotaping the walkthrough practices of other teams, it would be Josh McDaniels, the head coach of the Denver Broncos.
McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in 2007. when the New England Spygate story broke and the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick were fined a total of $750,000 by the NFL. The team was also stripped of its first-round draft pick in 2008; all penalties for illegally videotaping the signals of New York Jets coaches during a September, 2007 game. McDaniels worked for the Patriots from 2001 until the Broncos hired him to be their head coach before the 2009 season.
Some people never learn, though it appears that McDaniels isn't directly at fault. News broke on Saturday morning that the Broncos allegedly videotaped about six minutes of a walkthrough practice of the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 30, one day before the 49ers beat the Broncos at London's Wembley Stadium. The allegations have since been confirmed, and McDaniels and the Broncos have each been fined $50,000.
The real culprit is apparently Broncos video operations director Steve Scarnecchia - he was the one who shot the video, and he presented the video to McDaniels. The coach refused to view the video, which is probably why the fine was small in comparison to the ones handed to the Patriots, but team and coach are being punished for not reporting Scarnecchia to the league offices once they knew what he did.
McDaniels issued a statement on Saturday.
I apologize for not promptly reporting the improper conduct of our video director before our game against the 49ers in London. The actions of this individual are in no way representative of the values and integrity held by myself, our players and coaches, and the entire Denver Broncos organization.
I understand the punishment from the National Football League and support its commitment to the integrity of the game. We have addressed the situation internally to assure that nothing like this happens again.
When asked in a hastily assembled news conference, McDaniels was asked why it took him so long to report the incident - the NFL confirmed to the Denver Post that the NFL wasn't informed of Scarnecchia's actions. "I made a mistake," he said. "I made a mistake and I should have done that right away. We felt we handled it the right way by not doing anything with that but I did not follow through with it."
In his own statement, team owner Pat Bowlen said that Scarnecchia, the son of Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, is no longer with the organization. But Scarnecchia was employed by the Broncos until he was escorted from his office sometime in late November, according to the Post. Bowlen and other team executives first met with the league regarding this matter on Nov. 16, and the league took it from there.
The length of time between the incident and the team's reporting it is especially inexcusable because McDaniels was an entrenched employee of the Patriots when their scandal blew wide open. And although he has never been directly tied to either taping, or any advantage such espionage may have given, McDaniels has had a turbulent time as the Broncos' head coach and head man, and this will be seen as yet another example of his questionable judgment.
As for Scarnecchia, he shouldn't be surprised if he's booted from the league for good. According to ESPN.com, he's been notified by Roger Goodell that he will be considered a repeat offender in matters of integrity as they apply to the league. His potential ban from the NFL will be a subject of an upcoming hearing.
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