The NFL’s harsh punishment of the Patriots for Deflategate was motivated in part by the team’s prior offense in Spygate.
The league’s statement on Deflategate discipline makes clear that the decision to strip the Patriots of a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-round draft pick in 2017 in addition to imposing a $1 million fine was motivated in part by Spygate.
“Here, there are several factors that merit strong consideration in assessing discipline,” the league’s statement says. “The first is the club’s prior record. In 2007 the club and several individuals were sanctioned for videotaping signals of opposing defensive coaches in violation of the Constitution and Bylaws. Under the Integrity of the Game Policy, this prior violation of competitive rules was properly considered in determining the discipline in this case.”
Although Patriots coach Bill Belichick was exonerated of any wrongdoing on Deflategate, his actions in Spygate are costing the Patriots again. That prior violation counts against the team this time.