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Volume 26 No. 229
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Several NFL Team Execs Want To See Patriots Tape Of Bengals Sideline

The Patriots' video crew unknowingly crossed a line by taping the Bengals' sideline from the press box
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The Patriots' video crew unknowingly crossed a line by taping the Bengals' sideline from the press box
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The Patriots' video crew unknowingly crossed a line by taping the Bengals' sideline from the press box
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Five NFL team execs from different franchises said that they would "like to see the tape" of the Bengals' sideline generated by a Patriots-employed video crew last Sunday, according to Charles Robinson of YAHOO SPORTS. Two of the execs said that they "didn't think the tape needed to be made public for NFL fans, while the remaining three indicated transparency would likely be helpful for closure." In a statement, the Patriots said that a subcontracted video crew "working for the team's in-house media was shooting feature footage on a scout when it innocently and unknowingly crossed a line by taping the Bengals' sideline from the press box without Cincinnati's knowledge" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/10). In DC, Mark Maske notes the NFL has "begun its review of the video," and it "hopes to move quickly toward making a determination about whether to punish the Patriots for their admitted ­violation of NFL policy." A source said that a "resolution is possible as soon as this week," adding that one consideration for the league is "determining whether the video shows anything that could not have been seen on TV or on the coaches' tape of the game." The league, at least initially, "did not seem to believe severe sanctions against the Patriots were likely, but it was still in the early portion of its review" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/11).

HISTORY MATTERS: In Boston, Ben Volin in a front-page piece cites sources as saying the Bengals are "livid" over the incident. The Patriots may be "hard-pressed to avoid a punishment, given their history." A source said that the Patriots' explanation is "plausible, but they were reckless in not being clear with the videographer about the league rules -- especially considering their history." Another source said that the Patriots "requested and were granted the extra access from the Browns about two weeks prior to the game." But the Patriots acknowledged that they "never informed the Bengals of the project" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/11). Also in Boston, Karen Guregian writes based on the Patriots' history, it is "hard to expect leniency." It is "naive to think" the team will "skate without some kind of penalty." All eyes will be on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the coming days to "see how the league responds" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/11).

NOT SO FAST? In Boston, Christopher Gasper writes the Patriots are "not going to get the benefit of the doubt or any sympathy outside of New England." Gasper: "Still, I find it hard to believe that Patriots coach Bill Belichick would ever engage in signal-taping again after Spygate." It would be "career suicide." It would take a "special kind of hubris to brazenly revive this practice." The Patriots have "earned that distrust, but this time their alibi rings true more than the allegation" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/11). In Boston, Tom Curran wrote people will "believe what they want to believe." The vast majority of football-watching America will "believe the Patriots were cheating because that's the narrative they've been fed for a decade and a half." However, Belichick is "smarter than that." Curran: "I'm smarter than that. You're smarter than that" (NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 12/10).

FOOL ME ONCE: In Providence, Kevin McNamara writes the Patriots "cannot claim ignorance of the filming rules." That is "no defense." It is "sloppy, careless and a potentially embarrassing and costly mistake" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 12/11). In Boston, Bill Speros writes the videotaping is "indefensible given the team's history" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/11). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote the NFL has to "hit the franchise." Intent does "not completely absolve the Patriots here." The franchise is "long out of excuses for this kind of transgression" (SI.com, 12/10). In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe writes the Patriots' statement contains an excuse the team has "used in the past when caught inappropriately filming opponents' sidelines" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/11).