While the New England Patriots released a statement saying a production crew that filmed the Bengals sideline during their game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday did so without ill intent, there is reportedly about eight minutes' worth of Cincinnati hand signals and substitutions on the tape.
Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic reported the film crew shot the Bengals sideline for an "extended period of time"—footage that offers a view of coaches giving instructions to players on the field. The film crew received permission from the Browns to record the Patriots' Do Your Job series, which was set to focus on the life of an advance scout.
The Patriots acknowledged the crew filmed inappropriately but denied any ties to their football operations.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters:
"Yeah I'm really focused on getting ready for the Bengals here. I just think all that's being handled internally or however it's being handled. I don't know. Again, I have no involvement in this and no knowledge of it. I really don't have any idea what exactly is going on. I can tell you that we've never, as a coaching staff, and I've personally have never used any video footage at all of anything that those production people have done, other than what's shown on public television or something like that. We don't have anything to do with what they do so I really don't have much knowledge of the situation at all."
The NFL obtained the video and is reviewing the matter. In 2007, the Patriots were fined $250,000 and lost a first-round pick, and Belichick was fined $500,000, for illegally recording the New York Jets' sideline signals. The so-called Spygate scandal briefly damaged the reputation of Belichick and the Patriots after it was revealed the team had been improperly recording opposing teams since 2000.
The Patriots were also fined $1 million and lost two draft picks, and Tom Brady served a four-game suspension, for the 2015 Deflategate scandal. If the NFL determines the Patriots again violated league rules by purposefully taping opposing coaches, it's likely the punishments would be harsher.
The 1-12 Bengals face New England on Sunday.