During halftime of the Eagles’ win over the Giants on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the New England Patriots admitted they had inappropriately filmed the sideline during Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns.
In a statement released by the team, the Patriots claimed the filming was part of a web series called “Do Your Job,” which are archived on the Patriots’ website. The team also said its failure to inform both the Bengals and the league was an “unintended oversight.” According to The Athletic, the footage includes eight minutes of the Bengals’ sideline with a “direct view” of coaches’ signals for play calls.
“The egregious nature of the video is why it set off the firestorm it did during the game with the Bengals executives in the press box,” The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. wrote.
News of the filming surfaced after Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told reporters the league was investigating the Patriots’ activities. The NFL has not commented on the matter, but NFL reporters Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero have reported on the sequence of events:
The Patriots’ statement garnered the equivalent of eye rolls from many NFL pundits, especially because it’s an excuse the Patriots have used in the past when caught inappropriately filming opponents’ sidelines.
During the Spygate scandal — where the Patriots were caught videotaping play-calling signals from an unauthorized location during a 2007 game — the Patriots developed a system to secretly film teams and created a secret library, according to ESPN reporters Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr.
Among the things they uncovered was that Matt Walsh, a former Patriots staffer, told NFL investigators that the team told its videographers to look like media members, including by wearing press credentials that said “Patriots TV” or “Kraft Productions.” There was also this tidbit:
Among those who have called out the Patriots as cheaters is former Eagles linebacker coach and current Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who said in hindsight he believed late Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was right about New England cheating during their victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
“The biggest thing we learned was make sure you have two signal callers, not one signal caller, because they may have all your signals,” Spagnuolo said during a 2018 interview on 97.5 The Fanatic. "I remember through the course of the game Jim [Johnson] saying, ‘They’re getting our signals. They know when we’re blitzing … try to hide it.’ I remember distinctly thinking. ‘I don’t think so Jim, just concentrate on calling the game,’ " Spagnuolo recalled. “In hindsight, he was right.”
Sixers get a national spotlight this week
The high-flying Sixers will get a piece of the NBA spotlight this week, playing in two nationally televised games on TNT.
On Tuesday, the Sixers will take on the Denver Nuggets at 8 p.m., with Brian Anderson and Greg Anthony on the call. The game will feature a rematch between the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, whose Nov. 8 meeting ended in a controversial foul call against Embiid that NBA officials later admitted should have been called on Jokic.
The real showcase game is Thursday at 8 p.m., when the Sixers travel up I-95 to Boston to take on the Celtics at TD Garden. Celtics’ Jaylen Brown might have inadvertently given the Sixers a bit of locker room material when he joked about Ben Simmons’ shooting ability.
Calling the game against the Celtics will be veteran play-by-play announcer Marv Albert and analyst Chris Webber.
Both games will also air on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby providing the call, and Serena Winters reporting from the sideline.
• Disney enlisted Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams, to narrate the opening of Monday’s game, which doubled as a synergetic slopfest promoting the next Star Wars film. While many fans (and a few of my colleagues) seemed pleased by the opening, to me it came across as cynically as ESPN personalities shilling for Disney+ on social media last month.
"By the way, mark it down, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be in theaters December 20,” Monday Night Football broadcaster Joe Tessitore said, before mentioning a single player or coach on either team.
• Better than just about anything on the field Monday night was Randy Moss’ reaction to a pregame card trick performed by former Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos.
“Steve Young! Suzy Kolber! Bro, that was lovely!” Moss screamed once he realized the location of the card he picked.
• In non-Eagles media news, CBS was mocked on social media over an incident on Sunday’s The NFL Today, in which a photo of a fake Andy Reid appeared in the background during a discussion of the Chiefs-Patriots game.
Instead of showing Reid, CBS displayed an image of Andy Reid lookalike Chris Wilhelm, a longtime Reid impersonator from Leona, Pa.
According to a source at CBS, a slideshow on one of the monitors that cycles through fan photos, cheerleaders, and yes — lookalikes dressed as head coaches — was to blame for the perfectly timed snafu.
• FS1 is canceling Fair Game With Kristine Leahy, the daily interview show hosted by former Colin Cowherd desk anchor Leahy, as first reported by Front Office Sport’s Mike McCarthy. It’s unclear what will fill the 5:30 p.m. slot on FS1, which goes head-to-head with ESPN’s SportsCenter, hosted by Sage Steele and Temple grad Kevin Negandhi.
Leahy is probably best known for an awkward interaction she had with LaVar Ball, who told her to “stay in your lane” after she asked how many pairs of his Big Baller Brand shoes had been sold (which, as it turns out, wasn’t a lot).
Meanwhile, we still don’t know what caused FS1 to force out Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter last month. Both Fox Sports and Carter declined to discuss the details.