Within hours of reports surfacing that the Patriots stole defensive signals from the Jets on Sunday, league-wide speculation ran rampant on how far reaching the accusations are. Lions and Packers officials intimated concern yesterday that the Patriots were, indeed, stationing cameramen on the sideline to film coaches signaling in plays last fall.
Within hours of reports surfacing that the Patriots stole defensive signals from the Jets on Sunday, league-wide speculation ran rampant on how far reaching the accusations are.
Lions and Packers officials intimated concern yesterday that the Patriots were, indeed, stationing cameramen on the sideline to film coaches signaling in plays last fall. And a high-ranking Bills official confirmed last night that an investigation is ongoing to find if suspicions that similar actions by the Patriots took place in the teams' two 2006 games hold water.
Several other teams are believed to be conducting similar investigations.
Appearing on WEEI yesterday, Bill Belichick simply said that this is a ``league issue'' and declined to comment further. Similarly, Jets coach Eric Mangini said during his press conference yesterday that, ``With anything along those lines, those are all league-related matters, and anything that deals with an issue like this or anything on a team-by-team basis, those all go to the league.''
The NFL has confiscated a camera and video tape, and is conducting its own investigation into the matter. Videotaping from the sideline or coaches' booth is strictly prohibited by the league, with an emphasis on preventing teams from filming signals.
In the locker room yesterday, most Patriots said they were unaware of the charges, and all claimed to have no knowledge of such illegal actions by the team.
``There's cameras everywhere out there, so we don't know what's going on,'' said cornerback Ellis Hobbs. ``You're talking in the huddle, you look up and there's a big mic above your head. There's all types of things out there, so you're not really paying attention to that stuff.''
It's highly unlikely the players would know. But in a league where the talent gap from one team to the next is generally slim, the guys playing do know about trying to extract any edge possible.
``I know with coaches, at times, you see them covering their mouths with (playsheets) stuff like that,'' said defensive end Ty Warren. ``Us as players, we're totally unaware of that. The only thing we know and we're aware of is the game plan and what we need to do out there. You're talking to a lineman, my hand's in the dirt.''
According to an ESPN report, the cameraman flagged in Green Bay was the same one apprehended on Sunday at the Meadowlands. In both cases, the offending party was ejected from the sideline upon his discovery.
And while some Patriots expressed doubt that that there's truth behind the accusations, Hobbs did say that he thinks any such antics come outside the spirit of the game.
``If it's true, then it's true and obviously we'd be in the wrong,'' said Hobbs. ``But I'm standing behind my team and my coaches, our personnel people, our staff. I don't think we do those kinds of things.''
Whether they do or not, it's not hard to figure where the temptation to take such action come from.
Players are taught to pick up hints within the game, be they stemming from line splits or snap counts or audibles. This, simply, would be an illegal cousin of those.
``I could see it happening, because everyone's trying to get that edge,'' said Hobbs. ``But at the same time, there's so much time and effort put into (the games), I don't think you'd want to put the whole season on the line by looking at specific signals when they do change week-to-week.''