NFL fines Broncos, McDaniels $50,000 each for videotaping infraction

The NFL has concluded that former Broncos director of video operations Steve Scarnecchia indeed recorded a portion of the 49ers’ walk-through practice conducted at Wembley Stadium in London.  But the league also has concluded that coach Josh McDaniels refused to watch the tape.

The end result?  Scarnecchia has been fired with cause, the Broncos have been fined $50,000 because they are responsible for the conduct of their employees, and McDaniels has been fined $50,000 for not immediately reporting the infraction.

Because the league has determined that Scarnecchia is a repeat offender of the policy in question (the specific nature of the prior violation is not yet clear, given that he left the Patriots after the 2004 season), the league will conduct a hearing aimed at determining whether he should be barred from further employment with the league or any of its teams.

“The investigation disclosed that on October 30, the day before the Broncos played the 49ers in London, Steve Scarnecchia, Denver’s video director, was present in Wembley Stadium,” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. “He was properly at the stadium, along with players, coaches and other club staff, to prepare for the October 31 game. During this time, the Broncos conducted their final walk-thru.  After the Denver players and most of the other team staff left Wembley, Mr. Scarnecchia remained behind to continue setting up his equipment for the next day. At one point he noticed that the 49ers were conducting their walk-thru practice, and he surreptitiously recorded a portion (approximately six minutes in length) of that practice.”

Goodell’s letter carefully points out that the investigation revealed no active culpability on McDaniels’ part.  “Our investigators immediately and independently interviewed Coach McDaniels and did so under circumstances that would have made it impossible for him to have spoken to Mr. Scarnecchia in advance.  (It is also significant that your staff had not previously discussed the matter with Coach McDaniels; thus, his meeting with NFL Security was the first time that he had been questioned on the matter.)  Coach McDaniels recounted essentially the same sequence of events as Mr. Scarnnechia had previously disclosed — namely, that Mr. Scarnecchia had come to him and advised that he had recorded the walk-thru, and that Coach McDaniels told Mr. Scarnecchia that he was not interested in watching the tape and did not do so,” Goodell wrote.

“Based on our investigation, we have found no evidence to suggest that Coach McDaniels or any other member of the coaching staff watched the tape.  Nor have we identified any evidence to suggest that any member of the coaching staff or club management directed Mr. Scarnecchia to record the practice.  We are aware of no evidence that would indicate the recording of any other opposing team practices or walk-thrus, or the like.  And there is no reason to believe that the improper videotaping in London had any competitive effect on the October 31 game between the Broncos and 49ers.”

That last point goes without saying, given that the Broncos lost the game.

Still, we’re somewhat troubled by the reduced consequence.  The Broncos and McDaniels knew or should have known they were hiring a guy who had previously cheated, based on the league’s conclusion that Scarnecchia is a multiple offender.  Moreover, McDaniels arguably has gotten a pass for failing to immediately alert the team and the league to a case of cheating far worse, in our view, that the videotaping of in-game coaching signals.

“The coach’s failure to do so is inconsistent with the Policy on Integrity of the Game, which imposes an obligation on executives, head coaches and others with knowledge of violations to report them promptly,” Goodell wrote.  “Because Coach McDaniels failed to do so, I have decided to impose a fine on him of $50,000.  I have also, as you know, personally discussed this matter with Coach McDaniels, and have emphasized his critical role in fostering and maintaining a culture of integrity within the football organization.  I believe that he now understands his responsibilities in this respect, and am hopeful that he will live up to those responsibilities in the future.”

We’re not sure that the Costanza-style “was that wrong?” approach should apply here.  McDaniels was employed by the Patriots when Spygate occurred.  He also was working for the Patriots when allegations of a videotaped walk-through practice hit the fan only days before Super Bowl XLII.  McDaniels knows the sensitivity of these matters, and even though he’s only 34 he should have been expected to sound the alarm.  Failure to say anything to anyone could be — and arguably should be — proof enough to presume that he wanted to cover it all up.

Of course, the team isn’t bound by the league’s decision.  Indeed, with McDaniels presumed to be safe due to the fact that former coach Mike Shanahan is still receiving a buyout, the team could hold McDaniels to a higher standard, and the Broncos possibly could fire him for cause, cutting off any future payments.

48 responses to “NFL fines Broncos, McDaniels $50,000 each for videotaping infraction

  1. since Scarneccia worked last for the Jets, the league will now have to explain why they swept the evidence of Jets taping under the rug and prosecuted the Pats for what the Jets were caught doing.

  2. Personally, I think losing even after you taped the most predictable team in football is punishment enough.

    But here is an interesting question, if the teams are all individual entities, can the League actually forbid employment of any person with an individual team or would that be collusion?

  3. So the Broncos are fined $650,000 LESS than the Patriots, even though the Broncos taped something that no one should ever see and the Patriots taped something that a stadium of 70,000 can see?

    Can anyone tell me, with a straight face, that the Commisioner doesn’t hate the New England Patriots? I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that he influenced the refs to help the Giants win Super Bowl 42.

  4. Yeah. I once secretly taped a girlfriend and I doing the nasty. After she found out it, she fired me too.

  5. What’s the big deal? He was there to set up video equipment an got six minutes of the Niners. He told McDaniels, who said he didn’t want to see it. End of story. It’s not like he was hiding in the bushes with a camcorder.

  6. (the specific nature of the prior violation is not yet clear, given that he left the Patriots after the 2004 season)
    Did you forget that the Patriot admitted to cheating for 8 YEARS?!?!

    This is why the posters here have to continually bring this up, the media seems to have forgotten how egregious the cheating was by the Pats.

  7. $50,000 for cheating, and $50,000 for having you head in the wrong position while trying to make a legal tackle.

    What a joke. I thought the Pats got off way too easy for destroying the integrity of the game.

    This absolutely proves that Goodell chooses his punishments based on the media outcry of the infraction.

    If the Broncos were ever good, people would have cared about this and Goodell would have given a stiffer penalty.

    But Goodell doesn’t care about the game’s integrity, and I think this incident will shed more light on the fact….GET RID OF HIM.

  8. The league believes McDaniels because he has as much integrity as anyone in the game. For the same reason there is no reason or indication that Bronco ownership would consider firing him “for cause”. Josh isn’t “safe” because [the Rat] is still stealing money from the franchise. He is safe because he is the brightest and best young coach in the game.

  9. Once a cheater always a cheater, Mcdaniels brought the chief culprit with him from New England. Does anyone think this is the first time? They’re just not as good at it as the Patriots. Does anyone really think the Patriots aren’t doing it anymore? funny how they were getting manhandled by the Lions in the first half then mysteriously had all the answers in the second half, almost like they knew what defensive blitzes were being called. maybe from taping the first half and reviewing it at halftime. Hmmmm.

  10. Well, well, well – now we know the exact person who was responsible for the taped Rams Super Bowl walk-through, and how he did it, and the fact that he immediately apprised Belichick of his acts and how it could be used. We can also see that Belichick used that tape to beat the Rams, since Scarnecchia expected McDaniels to do the same with the present tape.

    In fact, Scarnecchia must have assumed that that was the primary reason he was hired by McDaniels – to continue the SpyGate taping program he ran so well under Belichick.

    If the NFL is going to truly investigate Scarnecchia, then it needs to dredge up all the illegal things he did in the past. With this news about the walk-through being videotaped, I think the NFL has only one option – Vacate the Pats Super Bowl victory over the Rams.

    Based on the outcome of the investigation, the league also may need to vacate the AFC Title game wins over the Steelers, and by default vacating their two titles in those years.

    Cheating is cheating, and any titles or wins produced by cheating must be rectified. The Rams, Eagles and Panthers will need to be named champions of those 3 seasons, since they were the only legit teams appearing in those Super Bowls.

  11. Dear Mr.Bowlen:

    We have not had this chat in person, but I have booed the team this year on many occassions.

    I am disappointed in the organization for the changes made over the last few years, both in the front office and the football side.

    The performance of your organization both on and off the field has hit a new low. Your front office is standoffish and difficult for your fans to work with. Your football operations stink. Now this further embarrassement of taping a practice comes out.

    Your new leaders in the organization have failed you by bringing in people not suited to the organization and fired or pushed others out. I know many people in the organization and some that have been forced out. None would have participated in this.

    So you lose the likes of your former video director for this dirt bag. You lose a Super Bowl coach for McCan’t Get it done. You lose your organization’s get it done people for people who do nothing to promote, market, service and are the conduit to the fans.

    Pat. it is time to make a sweeping change. From top to bottom. Bring back the folks that helped the Broncos win two Super Bowls to turn it around.

    Denver is disappointed in the direction you have allowed others taken the team. Please step back in and take control.

  12. Seems reasonable. I sure hope the league is absolutely positive, though, that McDaniels didn’t view the recording.

  13. 50K each, that’s it?? Isn’t that getting off a little light? Goodell is so unbelievably inconsistent with the punishment and fines he hands out.

  14. You know, the more Goodell tries to bury this story, the worse it gets for him. He’s got a rogue team employee, Scarnecchia, running around for a decade clearly violating every rule possible and affecting the outcomes of very important games with his schemes.

    The fact that we never heard Scarnecchia’s name before opens a whole new Pandora’s box for Goodell. This scam and Goodell’s attempted cover-up are going to smear his name and stain his legacy as commissioner. How many more Scarnecchia’s are going to come crawling out of the woodwork before Goodell finally realizes the only sensible thing to do is to tell the public the actual and complete SpyGate story?

    Goodell has been acting like a young boy whose mom tells him to clean his room, and who sweeps everything under the bed rather than putting it away. Did he really think Scarnecchia’s name would never come up, and that the public would not find out more about the true nature of SpyGate?

  15. It was just a misinterpetation of the rules.
    Bill Belicheat

    BUT EVERYBODY DOES IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    All Pats fans.


    It’s funny though. If everybody does it, how come only coaches tied to the Patriots are caught?

  17. Does Josh McDaniels refusing the tape mean he passes Step 4 of his 12-step program?

    NFL: Coach, are you taping practices?
    McD: Hmm…no

    Are you aware of Scarnecchia taping game walk-throughs?

    Were the 49ers wearing red jerseys in practice?

    Will the 49ers run Frank Gore up the middle?
    Umm…I don’t know.

    Very well, you’re not involved.

  18. Considering the Broncos record, the League may want to encourage them to tape opponents.

  19. Bill Bilicheat, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, The Chicago black socks, Mark Mcguire, The New England Cheatriots, Lyle Alzado, Jason Giambi, Sammy Sosa, The Phillies Bullpen, Chinese Gymnasts and Tonya Harding and last but not least Josh McDaniels…. WELCOME TO THE THIEVES GUILD!!!

  20. 10 year old Pats fan:
    “But dad, everyone is doing it!”

    “I don’t give a damn if everyone IS doing it. If EVERYONE told you to go on PFT and whine, cry, make excuses, deny the obvious, lie, marry a fat woman, drive a 25 year old Volvo wagon, hold a job shoveling snow, marry your cousin, and grovel like an idiot would you too?”

    10 year old child:
    “Well yes Dad, ALL Patriots fans are like that.

  21. The simple fact of the matter is whether he looked at it or not, he is entirely culpable for not immediately reporting it. Add that to the whole “stench” of the fact that both McDaniels and Scarnecchia have ties to NE and their video tape “issues” and the whole thing REEKS! The fact that McDaniels would have even hired an associate that had ties to the NE videotape scandal, shows his lack of judgement. I can only sit back as a Raider fan and watch as this team is finally getting what it has had coming to it. People forget, Shanahan’s great 2 year run with Elway and Davis was also at a time they were found to be cheating the salary cap.

  22. Interesting to note that Sen. Arlen Specter was onto the Scarnecchia angle just prior to Goodell destroying the tapes and working the Congressional back channels to shut the Pennsylvania Senator’s investigation down.

    I can hear Ricky Ricardo now – “Lucy [Roger]! You got some ‘splaining to do!”

  23. So let’s review:

    Dolphins record Brady’s audibles = “that’s football”

    Jets tape Pats = nothing

    Broncos tape 49ers = josh didn’t watch the tape and 100k total fines


    Am I missing anything?

  24. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute……

    What the hell is going on here????

    First, this story just broke TODAY, yet the league has already taken action???????

    Second, we’re supposed to believe the Bronco’s, McDaniels, and the league that McDaniels didn’t know about the taping, didn’t authorize it, that it was only six minutes long, and that McDaniels never once saw it??? (“Ooo, Ooooo, that’s wrong, I don’t wanna even see it!!!” *Closes eyes*)

    Third …… a 50K fine for the Bronco’s and McDaniels, for a confirmed case of taping an opposing team’s “walk-through”, and for concealing it from the league???? A hundred grand total???? Bill Belichick alone was fined a HALF A MIL!!!!! New England got fined a first round draft choice, and this was just for taping a game from a prohibited spot, not nearly as flagrant as what Denver did!!!!!! No, the league has no bias against the Patriots, do they?!!!! Next time one of you morons thinks that the league favors the Patriots, remember this disparity in penalties.

    By the way, didn’t Scarnecchia also work for Eric Mangini and the Jets after he left New England, and Bill Belichick caught the Jets illegally taping the Patriots in Foxboro – AFTER Mangini reported the Patriots for “Spygate” – and have the cameraman ecorted off the grounds? Perhaps THAT was Scarnecchia’s prior offense?

    Regardless, this is the final nail in Josh McDaniel’s head coaching career. Someone who should have known better after living through “Spygate”, and someone who resorted to taping the 49’ers – the FREAKING FORTY NINER’S!!! – and then STILL MANAGING TO LOSE THE DAMN GAME!!!!!!

  25. You can take the coach out of the Patriots, but you can’t take the Patriots out of the coach.

  26. Hitting a receiver in the process of catching a ball: $75,000

    Hiring a guy to willingly cheat for the team: $50,000

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the National Fancy League.

  27. Explain further. Did the broncos report the violation to the NFL or did the NFL find out on its own? Seems to be the former, so who sounded the alarm? And if the broncos did, how did the punishment not fit the crime? I question the truth of it all but given what was said and believed, the broncos got what they deserved and nothing more or less.

  28. Because the league has determined that Scarnecchia is a repeat offender of the policy in question (the specific nature of the prior violation is not yet clear, given that he left the Patriots after the 2004 season), the league will conduct a hearing aimed at determining whether he should be barred from further employment with the league or any of its teams.
    Well he can’t be the cameraman for the Pats caught filming sideline signals in 2007 then. So where was this previous infraction and what team was he working for at the time?

  29. Blackglass3 said”Pats tape Jets = WORST THING EVER TO HAPPEN IN SPORTS.

    Am I missing anything?”

    Yes. The Patriots admittedly cheated for 8 years. Stop trying to downplay how much the Patriots cheating destroyed football for those 8 years.

  30. Dad:
    “I don’t give a damn if everyone IS doing it. If EVERYONE told you to go on PFT and whine, cry, make excuses, deny the obvious, lie, marry a fat woman, drive a 25 year old Volvo wagon, hold a job shoveling snow, marry your cousin, and grovel like an idiot would you too?”

    So, does he divorce the fat woman before he marries his cousin, is he married to two women at the same time, or is the fat woman his cousin to start with?

    Details man, it’s all in the details.

  31. WHY is there any grey area here after the Patriots were caught? The fines are LESS or THE SAME, as a bunch of suits in NY trying to determine what a defenseless reciever is??? They settled this one rather QUICKLY, as opposed to the BrINT FARVE-Jenn Sterger “DID HE-OR DID HE NOT TEXT HER HIS JUNK? “… It seems that GODell acts QUICKLY in one instance, in hoping to put this one to rest, & drags his feet in the other, [BrINT Farve], b/c BrINT & his STREAK have made him untouchable.

  32. Interesting to note that for the same $50,000, McDaniels could have punched out BOTH Philip Rivers AND Jay Cutler

    Missed his big chance…

  33. benh999 says:
    What’s the big deal? He was there to set up video equipment an got six minutes of the Niners. He told McDaniels, who said he didn’t want to see it. End of story. It’s not like he was hiding in the bushes with a camcorder.
    Then why have so many people made such a big deal about New England taping a walk-through of the Rams, that NEVER EVEN HAPPENED??!!!! Turned out to have been a complete fabrication by a disgruntled ex-employee, yet the Patriots have been accussed for three years over that.

  34. @footballgeek11:
    Good stuff man, love it. In law, as Florio knows, there’s a tort claim in Negligence termed “negligent hiring,” in which an employer that hires an employee is liable for any intentional tort (assault, battery, careless driving, etc.) committed by the employee IF the employer either knew or should have known of the employee’s prior propensities to commit a harm.

    In this situation, McD and Bowlen both knew that Scarnecchia had committed improper acts while working as the video director, and therefore, should have foreseen that he might commit a similar act in the future. Under this theory, the Broncos are definitely liable for Scarnecchia’s impropriety, it’s just whether or not the punishment fits?
    If we were to lose a draft pick, would season ticket holders be able to sue the Broncos under negligent hiring? Who knows…but they better figure out what they’re doing very soon and get it right. This hurts us too much.

  35. “even though he’s only 34”

    I’ll grant you that McDaniels comes across as a giddy teenager, but once you reach adulthood, “only” doesn’t come into play. A 34-year-old who had a front-row seat for “Spygate” should have known the signifcance of the situation and acted immediately to get rid of Scarnecchia. I don’t think McDaniels was personally involved in this incident, but he didn’t take a decisive leader approach in handling it.

  36. A lot of evidence was swept under the rug by Goodell regarding the extent and duration of the Pats cheating. He allowed the Patriots to turn whatever evidence they chose to surrender, and then he promptly destroyed that evidence so that it could not be reviewed by the media or any other third party. Then there is the whole mysterious handling of Matt Walsh, who claimed to have beem present while the Rams were taped during their walkthru at that SuperBowl. Could Goodell’s evidence of previous infractions of cheating by Scarnecchia come from Matt Walsh? There has long been a suspicion that Walsh reached a setlement withthe league to just ‘ go away’ without further damaging the integrity of the game – and the Patriots legacy. The Commissioner clearly didn’t want an asterisk associated with 3 Superbowl championships given that he owed Bob Kraft’s support for even getting his commissioner job.

  37. Haha…leave it to the haters to blame the Patriots for the Broncos doing this. Love it. I love how everyone assumes that somehow a camera can make tackles, throw 45 yard passes on a line, make juke moves, catch in the cold, tip balls for interceptions, force fumbles…It’s amazing how one camera can just play the entire game of football for you.

    All I know is even the GOD of the Haters Matty Walsh claimed the Patriots did NOT tape any Rams walkthrough…the guy who tried to bring the Pats down didn’t even say that was true and he was there that day…

    Walkthroughs are different than siganls which change every week and are in plain view to 70,000 people in the stadium. Glad my Pats never did what the Broncos did…HAHA

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