Spygate 2.0

Report: NFL discipline for Patriots in 'Spygate 2.0' incident coming in next two weeks

Report: NFL discipline for Patriots in 'Spygate 2.0' incident coming in next two weeks

The Patriots are expected to be disciplined by the NFL in the next two weeks for violations stemming from the "Spygate 2.0" incident in Cincinnati where a team-connected employee videotaped the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline at a game in Cleveland last month, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

That report is consistent with one from the Washington Post earlier this week that said the league has not turned up evidence thus far implicating coach Bill Belichick or the team's football staff in the incident and that a likely penalty would be a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the loss or reduction in the value of a draft pick.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The NFL released a statement later Saturday night that read, “The investigation is ongoing and there has been no discussion of any potential discipline. Any suggestion of potential discipline or a timeline on an announcement is pure speculation.”

Among that speculation was Schefter citing cases of recent game-day violations that could be used a basis for punishment:

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Saturday that it wasn't clear if there was a link to football operations in the Patriots case as the league was awaiting more security reports. 

The Patriots also have an infamous history here. Belichick and the Patriots were fined a total of $750,000 by the NFL and the team was stripped of a first-round draft selection in 2007 after the team was found to be improperly taping opponents’ coaching signals in the case that became known as Spygate.

 

Report: No evidence implicating Bill Belichick or Patriots football staff in 'Spygate 2.0' incident

Report: No evidence implicating Bill Belichick or Patriots football staff in 'Spygate 2.0' incident

As the Patriots await possible discipline from the NFL in the wake of the controversy surrounding team-connected employees videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline at a game in Cleveland last month, the Washington Post reports that the league has not turned up evidence thus far implicating coach Bill Belichick or the team's football staff.

The Post's Mark Maske reports that the NFL could complete its investigation of the Dec. 8 incident as soon as this week and, according to those familiar with the probe, it's likely "that barring the last-minute uncovering of more damaging evidence, that the NFL will impose penalties consistent with those handed out in recent years in other cases of game-day infractions." 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

That probably means punishment of a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the loss or reduction in the value of a draft pick, according to Maske.

More from the story:

It is not clear, however, when the NFL will announce a decision. Once NFL security officials complete their investigation and submit their findings, Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league leaders still must review those findings, decide whether to conduct additional interviews, deliberate over the potential penalties and determine when to announce the ruling.

But there is no indication at this point that Belichick or the Patriots’ football staff has been tied to the video or that the investigation has uncovered evidence of a sustained, organized effort by the Patriots to gain a competitive on-field advantage, according to those people with knowledge of the case.

Belichick has been adamant that Patriots football operations had nothing to do with the incident.

The Patriots have maintained that the taping of the sideline - a violation of NFL rules - was mistakenly done by a crew from Kraft Sports and Entertainment, which provides content for the Patriots.com website, and was in the press box in Cleveland to film a feature on a Patriots scout ahead of New England's game in Cincinnati the following week, Dec. 15. 

Bengals security confronted a member of the film crew. The videographer, longtime Kraft Sports and Entertainment employee David Mondillo, offered to delete the footage of the sideline and told Bengals security he wasn't aware he was doing anything wrong. FOX Sports obtained footage of what the film crew was shooting with audio of the conversation between Bengals security personnel and the videographer.

The Patriots, in a statement released the day after the incident, had described the failure to inform the Bengals and the NFL of the taping as an "unintended oversight" while also admitting the video crew "inappropriately filmed the field" from its spot in the press box.

Mondillo also released a statement on Dec. 15, when the footage obtained by FOX Sports aired, in which he denied any involvement with football operations.

The case has evoked comparisons and memories of the 2007 "Spygate" incident, in which Belichick and the Patriots were fined a total of $750,000 by the NFL and the team was stripped of a first-round draft selection in 2007 after the Patriots were found to be improperly taping opponents’ coaching signals.

Tom Brady calls out critics trying to make 'Spygate 2.0' a 'distraction'

Tom Brady calls out critics trying to make 'Spygate 2.0' a 'distraction'

As far as Tom Brady is concerned, it's the New England Patriots against the world.

The Patriots have won both of their games -- 34-13 over Cincinnati, 24-17 over Buffalo -- since the NFL began investigating them for illegally taping the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline.

That incident, branded as "Spygate 2.0," has brought a wave of unwanted attention to New England at a crucial stretch of the season.

But Brady insists the media's coverage hasn't affected the Patriots inside their locker room.

"I’ve put it out of my mind," Brady told Westwood One's Jim Gray on Monday night. "I’ve not thought about it since I heard about it. I think a lot of people are making a lot of nothing."

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The story first broke on Dec. 8 when Bengals coach Zac Taylor confirmed he was aware of the NFL's investigation into the Patriots.

That investigation still is ongoing, and according to the latest report, the league has yet to find proof New England's football operations staff had any connection with the in-house production team that shot the illegal footage.

For Brady, the only frustrating part of this latest incident is that he has to shoo away critics who he believes are trying to make "Spygate 2.0" a bigger deal than it is.

"We are thinking about other things. We’re trying to focus on winning games," Brady said. "As a player, my job is to go out there and do the best I can do and eliminate as many distractions.

"A lot of people are trying to make this a distraction for us and we’re not going to allow that to happen."

Brady's Patriots are 12-3 entering their regular-season finale and can secure a first-round bye and No. 2 seed in the AFC with a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Apparently that's all they're focused on.