NFL Network is reporting Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been fined $500,000 - the maximum fine possible according to the NFL Constitution and By-Laws - for his role in violating league policy for use of equipment to video tape opposing teams' signals.
The Patriots organization has been fined $250,000, and, if they make the playoffs, the team will lose its 1st pick in 2008. If they do not qualify for the playoffs, they will lose a 2nd and a 3rd round pick.
The Patriots have two first-round picks, one of which is the 49ers, acquired from the Joe Staley trade in April.
Important information noted in the NFL news release sent to the media yesterday:
NFL policy states that "no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game" and that all video shooting locations for club coaching purposes "must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."
In a memo to NFL head coaches and general managers on September 6, 2006, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson said, "Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."
In his review of the facts, Commissioner Goodell determined that the Patriots' use last Sunday of the video camera, which was seized before the end of the first quarter, had no impact on the outcome of the Patriots-New York Jets game.
Put simply, the violation is more for videotaping outside of a room enclosed on all sides with a roof. The fact the Patriots were filming outside of this designated area was never in question, and could not possibly have been misinterpreted. It's important to identify the part that generalizes the use of videotaping signals. It seems the ruling is signals cannot be videotaped, but videotaping cannot occur from anywhere outside of an enclosed room.
Moving on to the penalty issue...
For kicks, I fired up Madden 2007, and skipped quickly into a regular season.
Selecting the Patriots, I tried to trade the Raiders a 1st round pick and a 4th round pick for WR Randy Moss.
The Raiders denied it.
Funny, because that's all the Patriots ended up paying for him. Add in $750 grand, and that's what the defending AFC East champion Patriots ended up paying for a rejuvenated and elite WR and a bizarre video taping violation.
Seems like a great trade for the Pats. Not so good for Oakland and the rest of the NFL.
Could it have been worse? Absolutely. NFL Network is reporting they received a statement from Goodell, in which he said he considered a suspension for Belichick, but chose not to impose one.
Should it have been worse? Did Goodell chose the fine over the suspension because of the Week 2 Super Bowl this weekend?
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