Patriots

Patriots

The New England Patriots have a major distraction on their hands entering Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Guess what Bill Belichick doesn't like? Distractions.

The Patriots head coach was "furious" upon learning the NFL was investigating his team for illegally taping Cincinnati's sideline in Cleveland during last Sunday's Browns-Bengals game, The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported Tuesday.

New England said in a statement Monday the three-person production crew was in Cleveland to film a team scout for an upcoming episode of "Do Your Job," the team's online video series highlighting the work of staffers behind the scenes.

The production crew had no connection or correspondence with New England's football operations, the team insisted, and Belichick said twice this week he had absolutely no knowledge of their filming before he was notified of the investigation.

The Patriots still could face discipline, however, considering the production crew allegedly violated an NFL rule by reportedly training a camera on the Bengals' sideline for more than eight minutes.

According to Howe, Belichick and his football operations department also could take action.

"The Patriots have also taken steps toward handling the matter internally," Howe wrote. "Those in the production wing fear jobs are at stake."

 

Howe added a few more details to what we know about the incident so far, including:

-- The three-person Kraft Sports Productions crew included a full-time producer and two independent contractors (an audio technician and video technician).

-- The producer was unaware of the rule that prohibits teams from shooting video of opponents' sidelines, in part because Kraft Sports Productions has permission to shoot the Patriots' sideline during home games.

There's still no word on if or how the NFL will punish the Patriots, but at the very least, the incident has focused unwanted attention on a team that's lost two games in a row.

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