Thanks to one camera too many on the sidelines this past Sunday against the Jets; the Patriots have to pay dearly.
Patriots’ coach Bill Belichik was fined the NFL maximum $500,000 and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for spying on an opponent’s signals. The team must also give up a first-round draft pick next year if they make the playoffs, and a second- and third-round pick if it doesn’t.
The penalties stem from an incident against the Jets on Sunday where an official from the New England organization was filming their opponent in order to steal their defensive signals. Matt Estrella, the Patriots’ video assistant, had his camera confiscated while he was on the Jets’ sideline during New England’s win.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made sure the punishment fit the crime although many still feel it was too light. In a letter to the Patriots, Goodell said, “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field.“
Many experts and analysts feel that a suspension for Belichik should have been handed down. While Goodell thought about it; he felt it wasn’t right at this time. “Largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first-round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long-lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension.“
The penalty is the largest fine ever given to a coach and the first time ever that a first-round draft pick was taken away as a penalty. Belichik accepted full responsibility for the incident and apologized.