The NFL's investigation into the Patriots' illegal filming of the Bengals sideline during a Dec. 8 game at Cleveland appears to be reaching its final stages and taking a late detour.
According to the Washington Post, the NFL is likely to punish the Pats and weighing more severe consequences than those reportedly contemplated last week. The league is considering past punishments for game-day infractions as a template for how to handle the Pats' latest scandal, per the Post. Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged last week the franchise's history of game-day operations violations, namely Spygate, will factor into his decision.
From the Post: “(The NFL is) … contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules … that could mean a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss or reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower level pick.”
Previous game-day incidents the league could review include the Falcons pumping in fake crowd noise. They were later docked a 2016 fifth-round draft pick and fined $350,000. The Browns were fined $250,000 after former general manager Ray Farmer was found to be texting Cleveland coaches on the sideline during games in 2014. Farmer was suspended four games and fined.
The Patriots have admitted the production crew they sent to the Bengals-Browns game in Week 14 violated NFL policy by videotaping the field and Cincinnati's sideline. The crew was hired to film another installment of the franchise's online series, Do Your Job, which provides behind-the-scenes looks at various departments in the organization; most recently the work of an advance scout. Reports are the tape lasted eight minutes and was quickly confiscated by Bengals security and then sent to the NFL.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has consistently denied the team's football operations had any involvement in the incident. In a statement released last Monday, the team said it is cooperating with the league.