New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick insisted Tuesday he had no involvement with a Pats employee filming during Sunday's game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns in Cleveland.
According to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, Belichick said, "It's not a football issue in any way shape or form. I have nothing to do with that whatsoever."
The Patriots released a statement on the matter Monday:
In the statement, the Pats said the Browns granted them permission to film as part of a web series called "Do Your Job." That particular episode was focused on the Patriots' scouting department and a pro personnel scout who was on hand to watch the Bengals since they are the Pats' Week 15 opponent.
The Patriots added that they did not inform the Bengals or the NFL that they would be filming during the game, calling it an "unintended oversight."
New England is no stranger to videotaping scandals, as the Patriots received a significant punishment for filming the New York Jets' play calls during a 2007 game.
The scandal was dubbed Spygate and resulted in the Pats being forced to forfeit their 2008 first-round draft pick. The organization was fined $250,000 and Belichick was fined $500,000 for his role in the violation, per ESPN.
Belichick was asked what he learned from Spygate on Tuesday, and he noted that the Patriots "always try to do things the right way," per WCPO's Laurel Pfahler. He added, via Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson:
"Look, we're competitive. We try to be competitive in every area. But we don’t knowingly intentionally want to do anything that crosses the line. But since that happened I’d say we tried to keep a good distance behind the line and not maybe take it as far as we might have in the past. But it’s never really fundamentally changed."
According to Jay Morrison of The Athletic, Belichick also said Tuesday that he has a "good relationship" with the Bengals and owner Mike Brown.
When asked whether he would offer the Bengals an apology or explanation for what happened Sunday, Belichick told Dehner he would "keep that between him and the Bengals."
Sunday's game against Cincinnati is a big one for New England since it is on a two-game losing streak and has fallen to second place overall in the AFC behind the Baltimore Ravens. The Pats also lead the Kansas City Chiefs by just one game for the No. 2 seed, and the Chiefs hold the tiebreaker after beating New England last week.
Additionally, the Pats hold a one-game lead over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, and they host the Bills in Week 16.
New England has won the AFC East in each of the past 10 seasons, and it has not had to play in the wild-card round of the playoffs since the 2009 season.
Even amid their recent struggles, the Patriots are 10-3 this season, and they will be heavy favorites when they face the 1-12 Bengals on the road Sunday.