Tuesday September 11th, 2007

If found guilty of violating the NFL's rules against video-taping an opposing team's signals, the New England Patriots could face a fine from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and/or have a 2008 draft pick taken away, league sources said Tuesday.

NFL security confiscated a video camera from a Patriots employee during New England's 38-14 win at Giants Stadium on Sunday. That employee was reportedly filming the New York Jets defensive coaches as they signaled players on the field.

While the league's investigation is still ongoing, sources with knowledge of the situation say the NFL is treating the matter as a very serious potential violation. The expectation is that Goodell will take swift and stern action if the allegations are true.

In his first year on the job as commissioner, Goodell has built a reputation for meting out stiff disciplinary measures, and for his sensitivity toward anything that challenges the integrity of the game and the league. A third option for him in this case would be a suspension to a club employee, although that scenario is not considered as likely as a fine and/or the forfeiture of a draft pick.

The Patriots' history in matters dealing with video-taped subterfuge for purposes of gaining a competitive edge is likely to increase the severity of any penalty handed down by Goodell. Last year New England was reportedly the impetus of a sternly written memo from the league office to all teams, reminding them that it was illegal for any club official to bring a video recording device into the press box, video box or onto the field for the purposes of taping an opponent's signals or play-calling gestures from the sideline.

In addition, Green Bay officials said that before a Packers-Patriots game last November at Lambeau Field, they removed from the sideline a man wearing a Patriots staff credential and carrying a video camera. The Packers, however, did not confiscate the camera.

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