The Patriots were caught having a third party production crew record at least eight minutes of Bengals’ coaches signaling players on the field. There also is no question over whether something was caught on film that wasn’t appropriate to be recorded since the Patriots even released a statement admitting to it. The only question now is how the NFL will punish New England?
It appears the NFL will be looking at the punishments they passed down to teams for other game-day violations over the years, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. When people think of those kinds of punishments, the first ones that will come to mind will be New England’s previous infraction with Deflategate (Loss of first and fourth round picks and $1 million fine). The other cases reportedly being cited into consideration aren’t nearly as serious.
Those include infractions that are just fines, reducing and/or flat out of mid to late round draft picks. Among those rules broken include the Giants having a former head coach use a walkie-talkie on the sideline ($150,000 fine, fourth-round pick reduced). The Browns were also hit with a penalty when former GM Ray Farmer texted the sidelines during a game ($250,000 fine, four-game suspension for Famer).
The Falcons got in trouble for pumping in crowd noise. Their punishment was a $350,000 fine, stripping of fifth-round pick. Finally, the Ravens were also hit with a slap on the wrist when they had two defenders with helmets with coach-to-player communication ($200,000 fine).
The thing about these punishments outside of the one against the Patriots is they don’t have much of an impact on New England’s way of life as a franchise. You think even fining them $1 million impacts them? You think reducing a mid round selection is killing them? These just aren’t thing that are going to make the Patriots think twice about this happening again.
It is funny because, ironically, the NFL should look at how it treated a former Bengal player in how it will punish the Patriots this time. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was known for toeing the line of conduct on the field, much like New England has become known for toeing the lines of the rules.
So when Burfict was hit with a suspension that was more severe than another player would’ve been hit with, the NFL rationalized it and even told Burfict it was because he was a repeat offender. They acknowledged that he was being looked at differently than other players because he has been under scrutiny from the office so often.
The question becomes, what makes what the Patriots are doing different? They have literally been caught doing this same exact thing, and now here we are again. A slap on this of a fin under $1 million and a mid round selection being impacted does nothing to assure this won’t take place again.
People will try to make the argument that it was a dumb mistake by a third party, and that is the biggest thing the NFL has to determine. Do they believe that a team that has already needed punished for toeing the league’s rules have no knowledge of what this camera man did? It just seems incredibly hard to believe that the Patriots are going to escape this with a slap on the wrist given their history.