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NFL fines Patriots, strips draft pick for improper filming

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The National Football League has fined the New England Patriots $1.1m and stripped a third-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft as penalties for the team improperly filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during a game last December.

The Patriots’ television crew will also not be allowed to shoot any games this coming season, and club officials will also be required to undergo training on the NFL’s operational and game policies.

David Mondillo, a member of that television crew, is banned from NFL facilities from further notice. He had already been fired by the Patriots after the league began its inquiry into the matter.

The filming happened on December 8 when the Bengals were in Cleveland to play the Browns. At the time, the Patriots insisted the filming had nothing to do with football operations or scouting, and instead were generating content for their web series, “Do Your Job.” 

But the Patriots were due to play the Bengals a week after the Cincinnati-Cleveland game in question. Filming of opponents in any situation also is heavily governed by league rules, and the Bengals and NFL were not notified in advance of the Patriots’ activities.

New England additionally has a prior history in this area as in 2007 they were fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick for violating league rules by using video to steal signals in the “Spygate” scandal. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was also fined $500,000. 

The league then in 2015 fined the team $1m, stripped two draft picks, and suspended then-quarterback Tom Brady for four games without pay for use of under-inflated footballs, an episode widely known as “Deflategate.”