Patriots cameraman reportedly asked to 'just delete the footage,' Bill Belichick denies any involvement

News broke on Monday afternoon that the Cincinnati Bengals suspected a New England Patriots employee of illicitly recording footage from their sideline during Sunday’s game against the Browns in Cleveland.

Follow-up reports suggested that the suspicion may have been a misunderstanding. But a subsequent report suggests that a credentialed Patriots videographer was gathering information on Bengals strategy ahead of Sunday’s matchup between the two teams.

As reporting points to a Patriots employee filming Bengals coaches during a game, Bill Belichick denies having any involvement. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
As reporting points to a Patriots employee filming Bengals coaches during a game, Bill Belichick denies having any involvement. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Report: Pats cameraman wanted footage deleted

ESPN’s Dianna Russini, who surfaced the story after a reporter asked Bengals coach Zac Taylor about the accusation, reported later Monday that a cameraman who identified himself as a Robert Kraft employee was filming Bengals coaches during the first quarter of their game against the Browns and asked if he could “just delete the footage” when a Bengals employee caught him.

After the initial report, Russini reported that the NFL started an investigation into the allegations.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter then reported that a scout was credentialed by the Browns for the game played in Cleveland to be filmed on site for a Patriots production titled “Do Your Job.” The NFL confiscated the video after the Bengals employee witnessed and flagged the camerawork to the league, according to the report.

A Patriots source then told Russini that it was a “very big misunderstanding and lack of communication with the Bengals.”

The Patriots took responsibility on Monday evening, saying via statement that:

“While we sought and were granted credentialed access from the Cleveland Browns for the video crew, our failure to inform the Bengals and the League was an unintended oversight. ... We accept full responsibility for the actions of our production crew at the Browns-Bengals game.”

Belichick’s denial

In a segment with Boston’s WEEI on Monday afternoon, head coach Bill Belichick claimed that the Patriots coaching staff doesn’t know anything about the footage and didn’t plan to watch it.

“Yeah, I heard about this, and evidently this is our production people on the TV show that were there, and I have nothing to do — we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot,” Belichick said, per WEEI. “I have never even seen any of their tapes or anything else.

“This is something that we 100 percent have zero involvement with. This is something you’d have to talk to the production people about and what they were doing, or whatever it was. We have never seen anything that they’ve shot, other than what has come down on TV.”

This sounds familiar

In 2015, ESPN did an in-depth report on past Patriots scandals, including the infamous 2007 “Spygate” incident that saw the Patriots punished for videotaping signals of New York Jets coaches.

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That report described a protocol for Patriots advance scouts and videographers to have ready-made excuses if they were caught by NFL security suspiciously filming footage.

From that ESPN report:

“During games, [Patriots video assistant Matt] Walsh later told investigators, the Patriots' videographers were told to look like media members, to tape over their team logos or turn their sweatshirt inside out, to wear credentials that said Patriots TV or Kraft Productions. The videographers also were provided with excuses for what to tell NFL security if asked what they were doing: Tell them you're filming the quarterbacks. Or the kickers. Or footage for a team show.”

Russini reports that the Patriots no longer have access to the footage, which remains in the hands of the NFL.

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