The New England Patriots again find themselves immersed in another cheating scandal. During Week 14 of the NFL season, New England sent an “advanced scout” to film the Cincinnati Bengals versus the Cleveland Browns game. The Patriots claimed in a statement released after the scandal emerged they were there filming to “provide an illustration of an advanced scout at work on the road” for their annual team documentary titled “Do Your Job.” But the tale of the tape doesn’t come close to matching the Patriots’ account of events.
FOX Sports reporter Jay Glazer, who has the original Patriots Spygate tape, uncovered the footage at the Bengals game. And it sure is damning.
The Patriots are caught red-handed in this video. They’re clearly filming the Bengals’ sideline looking for signals that are not at all relevant to the “Do Your Job” documentary. The Patriots advanced scout knew he was screwed when he said to the Bengals security: “I can delete this right here for you.” The Bengals’ security personnel then responded, “The damage is done, my friend.”
After watching this video, it should be clear to everyone that the Patriots cheated and got caught. They even acknowledged they violated league policy. So the question is what punishment will they receive?
It’s up to the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, as they have the power to and should institute harsh punishment toward the Patriots. The team is habitual about cheating, and the NFL needs to draw a line now.
If the Patriots attempt to steal signals from a one-win Bengals team, who’s to say they’re not doing the same to AFC contenders like the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs — teams they have already lost to? The Patriots have been sending advanced scouts to film opposing team signals long before the Spygate scandal according to Don Vatta Jr. and Seth Wickersham. They wrote a piece for ESPN in 2015 that details how deep within the organization the Patriots’ cheating went: “Sources with knowledge of the system say an advance scout would attend the games of upcoming Patriots opponents and assemble a spreadsheet of all the signals and corresponding plays.”
The same excuse the Patriots gave that they were filming for their “Do Your Job” series is the same excuse their advanced scouts have been trained to say for years: “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.”
In my opinion, the only thing the NFL can do to send a harsh message is to suspend Head Coach Bill Belichick for a year.
They’ve been fined, they’ve lost draft picks, they’ve suspended Tom Brady, and they still haven’t learned. Suspending Belichick is the NFL’s only option. Belichick is the mastermind behind the Patriots cheating culture: “During games, Adams sat in the coaches’ box, with binoculars and notes of decoded signals, wearing a headset with a direct audio line to Belichick.” This is the final straw. Every other team would likely see incredible punishments — why are the Patriots any different?