As the NFL decides what to do about New England’s admitted infraction of the rules resulting from the taping of the Bengals’ sideline last week at Cleveland, the league is looking at the precedent created by similar infractions.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that a penalty is likely, and that the league is considering discipline that falls in line with punishment imposed on other teams that have violated game-day rules.
The Patriots, we’re told, are bracing for a significant financial penalty. The hope continues to be that there won’t be a draft-pick penalty.
As Maske explains it, past precedent could trigger a major fine (hundreds of thousands of dollars a/k/a pocket change for NFL owners) and possibly the loss of a low-round draft pick or the reduction of a draft pick. Maske lists the various recent incidents of game-day rules violations (presumably, the recent incidents the league said it was considering), from former Giants coach Ben McAdoo improperly using a walkie-talkie on the sideline ($150,000 fine, fourth-round pick reduced) to former Browns G.M. Ray Farmer improperly texting the sideline during a game ($250,000 fine, four-game suspension for Famer) to the Falcons pumping in fake crowd noise ($350,000 fine, stripping of fifth-round pick) to #DeflateGate ($1 million fine, first-round and fourth-round pick stripped) to the Ravens having two defensive players on the field with coach-to-player communication devices in their helmets ($200,000).
The difference in this case is that the violation was inadvertent, not deliberate — assuming that the league confirms no direct or indirection connection between the doofus who thought it would be OK to video the Bengals’ sideline and the team’s football operations.
This continues to be, or at least should be, the biggest factor in gauging punishment. If the Patriots are being truthful on that point, the penalty should be smaller than comparable precedent because comparable precedent involves violations that definitely were aimed at getting an advantage. This, if the Patriots are being truthful, clearly was not. If the Patriots aren’t being truthful on this point, they should be hammered by the league, both for what happened last Sunday and in light of their repeat-offender status.
The attempt to gloss over that critical distinction and to simply apples-to-apples compare New England’s infraction to other situations where there clearly was involvement from a team’s football operations could be the latest effort by certain forces who continue to resent New England’s success to whack them whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.