Patriots Conveniently Bury NFL Punishment With Cam Newton Signing

In Monday's Hot Clicks: The Patriots have a knack for good timing and Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem from its state flag.
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The Patriots Bury Cheating News (Again)

The Patriots surprised fans Sunday night when they signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $7.5 million. The timing of New England's news suddenly seemed convenient when the NFL reportedly handed down its punishment for the team illegally filming the Bengals' sideline last season.

The team received a $1.1 million fine, was docked a third-round pick in 2021 and was banned from shooting games during the 2020 season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The punishment stems from a Patriots staffer filming Cincinnati's sidelines during the first quarter of a Bengals-Brown game on Dec. 8, 2019.

Schefter reported Newton's signing exactly 17 minutes before his colleague Mike Reiss shared news of the NFL's punishment. Coincidence? Oh, the sleuths on Twitter sure weren't fooled. This isn't the first time the Patriots have tried to hide cheating news.

Mississippi lawmakers vote to change the state flag

Both the House and Senate of Mississippi passed a bill Sunday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from its state flag. The state has faced pressure to change its flag over the past month amid nationwide protests over racial injustice. 

The sports world has also called attention to the flag debate. Earlier this month, NASCAR banned Confederate flags from all of its races, and the SEC even threatened to prohibit conference championship events from being held in Mississippi until action was taken. The NCAA later expanded its Confederate Flag policy to prevent any championship events from being played in states where the symbol has a prominent presence. 

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill used his platform and tweeted that he wouldn't "be representing this state anymore" unless the flag was changed. Bulldogs coach Mike Leach and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin joined a group to lobby in front of state legislature late last week, urging for the change.

On Sunday night, Hill thanked the universities that helped with the policy change and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a statement praising their leadership.

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Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow him on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request, he's made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.