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Denver Broncos Involved in Own Spygate: Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

DENVER - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos celebrates a touchdown by quarterback Tim Tebow #15 in the first half against the New York Jets at INVESCO Field at Mile High on October 17, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Dmitriy IoselevichSenior Analyst IIIJune 18, 2016

According to a report from the Denver Post, the Denver Broncos are under investigation by the NFL for illegally videotaping opponents.

Broncos' representatives say the investigation is focusing on possible filming of the San Francisco 49ers before the two teams met in London in Week 8. The 49ers defeated the Broncos, 24-16.

There are more ties here to the New England Patriots version of Spygate than may initially meet the eye.

Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels was an offensive coordinator for Bill Belichick in 2006 when allegations surfaced that the Patriots were illegally taping the Jets.

Steve Scarnecchia, Denver's video operations director, is the son of current Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, and also worked for New England as a video assistant for five years before departing in 2005.

It seems that McDaniels and Scarnecchia learned more from Belichick than they bargained for. Though with a 3-7 record, the Broncos could probably use all the help they can get—legal or not.

What impact will this investigation have on the rest of the NFL?

Modern-day scouting is already the most technologically advanced it has ever been.

Every football team has a library of detailed game tapes from over the years that are often used to gameplan for the next week.

Every football team also tries to gain a competitive advantage by acquiring information that they think no other team has.

So what did the Patriots and Broncos do that was so wrong? The Patriots allegedly taped Jets coaches while the Broncos allegedly taped the 49ers' practices and walk-throughs.

But this is the kind of footage that the media is regularly allowed access to. Reporters are a constant presence at team practices, and naturally they publish their observations for the entire world to see.

Shouldn't football teams have the same access to this information as everyone else? 

The New England and Denver scouting departments weren't doing anything different than what the rest of the NFL was doing. The only difference is that they bent the rules a little too far and got caught.

Going forward, commissioner Roger Goodell is likely to reevaluate the NFL rules on what is considered acceptable and what isn't (since he's changed every other rule in the game anyway).

But it will not change the reality that the modern game is less about guessing what your opponent is going to do, and more about trying to stop him.

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