Patriots explain video controversy, acknowledge that they 'inappropriately filmed' field

The New England Patriots released a statement Monday night in response to reports that a member in the team’s employ was caught taking video of the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff during Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

The reported incident occurred a week before the Patriots take on the Bengals in Week 15.

According to the statement, the Patriots were taking video for a behind-the-scenes video series called “Do Your Job.” The team claims that footage from the Browns-Bengals game was intended for a feature on their scouting department.

Patriots admit violation of NFL rules

The statement acknowledges the team’s “failure to inform the Bengals and the league” as an oversight and admits that the production crew “inappropriately filmed the field from the press box,” a violation of league rules.

‘We accept full responsibility’

The Patriots claim in the statement that independent contractors who shot the video were unaware of league policy prohibiting filming the sideline and that the team’s football staff was not involved in anyway.

From the statement:

“While we sought and were granted credentialed access from the Cleveland Browns for the video crew, our failure to inform the Bengals and the league was an unintended oversight. In addition to filming the scout, the production crew — without specific knowledge of league rules — inappropriately filmed the field from the press box. The sole purpose of the filming was to provide an illustration of an advance scout at work on the road. There was no intention of using the footage for any other purpose. We understand and acknowledge that our video crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box. ... We accept full responsibility for the actions of our production crew at the Browns-Bengals game.”

Belichick’s explanation

The official Patriots statement echoes that of head coach Bill Belichick, who told WEEI earlier Monday that he and his staff had nothing to do with the video and were unaware of the production.

“Yeah, I heard about this, and evidently this is our production people on the TV show that were there, and I have nothing to do — we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot,” Belichick said, per WEEI. “I have never even seen any of their tapes or anything else.”

NFL is investigating

News of the video broke when a reporter asked Bengals head coach Zac Taylor about it early Monday. Taylor said he was aware, but offered no further comment.

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ESPN’s Dianna Russini later reported that the NFL is investigating the video and had taken possession of the footage after a Bengals staffer witnessed a member of the Patriots production crew filming the Bengals sideline for the entire first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Browns.

When confronted, the cameraman asked “if they could just delete the footage,” according to Russini.

The Patriots admitted to "inappropriately" taking video on Sunday and failing to inform the Bengals and the league of their video production. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/via Getty Images)
The Patriots admitted to "inappropriately" taking video on Sunday and failing to inform the Bengals and the league of their video production. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/via Getty Images)

Patriots have been here before

The Patriots famously were found to have broken league rules in the 2007 “Spygate” scandal when they took video of coaching signals from the New York Jets sideline during a game.

In an in-depth 2015 report into Patriots scandals of the past, ESPN reported that the team provided video production crews with ready-made excuses if they were caught recording illicit footage.

From that report:

“During games, [Patriots video assistant Matt] Walsh later told investigators, the Patriots' videographers were told to look like media members, to tape over their team logos or turn their sweatshirt inside out, to wear credentials that said Patriots TV or Kraft Productions. The videographers also were provided with excuses for what to tell NFL security if asked what they were doing: Tell them you're filming the quarterbacks. Or the kickers. Or footage for a team show.”

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