Monday, January 28, 2008
Lack of spying incidents makes NFL think Super Bowl OK
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
PHOENIX -- The NFL is treating spying as a non-issue heading into Super Bowl XLII after the league said it encountered no new allegations of improper videotaping since the first week of the regular season.
The league plans no changes to the security measures already in place to prevent improper videotaping of Super Bowl practices or of coaching signals during the game itself.
"No changes," league spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email. "We secure the practices at every Super Bowl working with the teams."
Improper videotaping became an issue in Week 1 when the
New York Jets caught the New England Patriots recording hand signals from a sideline camera. The league's unprecedented punishment included fines of $250,000 against the Patriots and $500,000 against coach Bill Belichick, plus forfeiture of a 2008 first-round draft choice.
The league indicated there have been no known attempts to monitor Super Bowl practices in violation of NFL rules.
"Not that I can recall," the email from Aiello said.
Milt Ahlerich, the NFL's director of security, also said he could remember no such instances.
"I don't think so, because we've been so proactive on that and worked with so many coaches that were so concerned," Ahlerich said Tuesday. "None come to mind where we caught anybody red-handed. Hopefully, again, we deterred people away."
The league takes precautions, he said.
"We really work hard for the privacy out there to be sure the coaches are comfortable," Ahlerich said. "Frankly, we've screened off some windows and these sorts of things to keep prying eyes away, and more than that, to give the coach confidence that prying eyes can't see even if they want to see."
The additional scrutiny associated with a Super Bowl might complicate efforts to duplicate the Patriots' Week 1 efforts to videotape hand signals.
"First of all, this is our event and we credential the people that are on the field and they are all screened and they are all background checked and we know their functions," Ahlerich said. "There is a great deal of work that is done with frequency coordination, frequency control, anybody who has devices that haven't been cleared on the field."
Home teams control sideline credentialing during the regular season, but not at championship games.
A team could conceivably videotape signals from a seat in the stands.
"They might be able to," Ahlerich said, "but I don't think they are going to be able to transmit that very easily."
The league prevents anyone in the stands from carrying a camera lens longer than 6 inches, a policy that predates Spygate.
"It is somewhat aimed at that, too," Ahlerich said, "and to protect our content."
Mike Sando covers the NFL for ESPN.com.