Sunday, September 16, 2007
More sanctions possible if Patriots fail to comply
ESPN.com news services
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has ordered the New England Patriots to turn over all videotape, files and notes relating to all their activity that resulted in the disciplinary action of coach Bill Belichick and the franchise, sources familiar with the details of Goodell's private communication with the team told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
If the Patriots are not compliant, the commissioner is prepared to impose even greater sanctions, Mortensen's sources said. Goodell promised as much when interviewed before Sunday night's Chargers-Patriots game on NBC.
Goodell alluded to the league's position when he made his decision public to discipline the Patriots when he stated that the NFL would "review" and "monitor" the team's videotaping procedures, effective immediately. Privately, the commissioner was more specific in his demands and expectations with Patriots owner Robert Kraft when the two men spoke Thursday, Mortensen's sources said.
The action is being taken because Belichick all but conceded to the commissioner that his interpretation of the rules allowed him to use videotape of opposing teams' hand signals for future games but not on game day, sources said. Goodell rejected that interpretation and was aware that there had been other incidents involving the Patriots in recent years.
If Goodell discovers that Belichick and the team has copied the files without disclosure to the NFL, the consequences will be significant, sources said.
Meanwhile, league spokesman Greg Aiello said Sunday that new memos on both videotaping and electronic surveillance of signals have gone out to all 32 teams reminding them of bans on the various types of surveillance.
"It's nothing new," Aiello said. "We just want to remind people how the rules work."
Speaking to NBC, Goodell said he trusted that the Patriots would turn over all the information to the league that was requested.
"I'm very confident the Patriots are going to abide by the rules," he said. "They understand that the consequences could increase."
Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.