Ryan L. Fox
In 2007, the New England Patriots were caught illegally filming the New York Jets during their Week 1 match-up of that same year. Dubbed as ‘SpyGate’, the Patriots were found guilty and had to pay a $1 million fine as well as forfeit their 1st-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft.
Fast forward 12 years to 2019 as history seemingly repeated itself. Only this time around, the Patriots were caught filming a game they were not participating in. Rather it was a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, the latter of the two the Patriots were going to be playing the following week. This little incident would put the Patriots back into the negative spotlight as it would then be latter dubbed as SpyGate 2.0.
Now before you either jump on the bandwagon to try and call the Patriots cheaters or rush to your computer to ‘defend the wall’, let’s just take a step back and figure out how what exactly happened.
This all took place at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio during a Week 14 match-up between the Browns and Bengals.
The perpetrator in SpyGate 2.0 was not some random Patriots assistant, scout, or intern. Rather, it was longtime Kraft Sports and Entertainment videographer & producer David Mondillo. The reason why he was in the press box to begin with was that David was trying to film a special of the Patriots advance scouting department does for Patriots.com. Unfortunately for David, he didn’t follow proper filming protocol when he was filming and was promptly ousted by Bengals security while he was filming the Bengals sideline.
The film was then confiscated and sent to NFL officials, who then promptly launched their own investigation into the matter. After it came out that he was caught, David was put on paid leave a few days later by the Patriots as the NFL conducted their investigation.
Then in late June before the team’s punishment was announced, the Patriots ended up terminating David from Kraft Sports and Entertainment as he was also promptly banned from filming in all 32 NFL stadiums by the league. A little harsh but if you have been filming for as long as David, you should be up to date on the rules and regulations of what can be filmed and where you can film in an NFL stadium.
Next comes the reported punishment that the league plans to hand out.
After months of investigation and questioning, it seemed that the NFL pretty much wrapped up their investigation. An initial report then came out on Sunday night, June 28, that the punishment levied against the Patriots included the following: their 3rd round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft would be stripped from them, they would have to pay a fine of $1.1 million, their film crew would not be allowed to film the team for the 2020 season, and that their senior advisors would have to attend procedural classes on how to essentially conduct themselves while filming in an NFL stadium.
Of course you got the Michael Hurleys and the Scott Zolaks crying out that this punishment is too unfair, that Kraft Sports and Entertainment had no ties to football ops and therefore the Patriots shouldn’t lose a draft pick. Well that would be all well and dandy…if the Patriots were first time offenders or had a history of cooperating.
See, here’s the deal. With SpyGate, it was “Deny, Deny, Accuse” all the was through until they sheepishly admitted they did wrong doing. With DeflateGate, you had Robert Kraft essentially talking out of both sides of his month (i.e. “We’ll fight it to the end!” for the fans but then “We’ll cooperate.” with the investigators) before then throwing QB Tom Brady under the bus, which led to an outlandish 4-game suspension for Brady.
So with a history of non-cooperating as well as a well-known track record, the punishment seems fitting for the crime.
But the good news is that, unlike those last scandals, it was reported by Adam Scheftter that the team was more than willing to accept the terms of the punishment. So at least they’re showing some form of cooperation instead of dragging it out in the courts.
And to those that were bitching about the 3rd round pick being docked, just stop. You know that either the Pats will make it up by trading down for multiple picks in the draft or simply recoup it via a compensatory pick. Not to mention that the $1.1 million fine is chump change to a billionaire like Robert Kraft.
The only thing that was damaged was the Patriots reputation yet again. Although SpyGate 2.0 didn’t have the flare and drama of the first SpyGate, it’s just another black checkmark in the coaching legacy of Bill Belichick as well as the team legacy of the New England Patriots.
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