The verdict has been passed down, and the verdict is harsh. The National Football Leauge, led by commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday passed down judgement on the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick for video taping the offensive and defensive signals of the New York Jets in Sunday’s opener in New Jersey. The League has decided on its penalty – a fine of the NFL maximum of $500,000 for Belichick, and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for the illegal video taping.
As if that was not enough, the team also will give up next year’s first-round draft choice if it reaches the playoffs. If for some reason the Pats fold and don’t make the playoffs, the team will lose its second- and third-round picks. Goodell passed the punishment to the Patriots in the form of a letter. “I specifically considered whether to impose a suspension on Coach Belichick,” Goodell wrote. “I have determined not to do so, largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first-round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long-lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension.”
The letter went on to say: “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field.” The league has specific rules against exactly what the Pats did on Sunday. The rule states as follows: “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.”
The Patriots cannot claim they were unaware of any such rules about video taping, as on September 6th of 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.”
Commish and watchdog Goodell also passed on news that the NFL would watch like a hawk the Patriots’ coaching video program, effective right now.