By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Once upon a time, a jacked-up Bengals employee busted a videographer working for the Patriots in the press box in Cleveland. This vigilante Bengals employee nabbed the camera operator while he was shooting generic footage of the field, and despite that videographer’s offerings to simply delete the footage, the video avenger working for the Bengals delivered some bad news.
With a dismissive laugh and a confident tone, the Bengals employee slyly asserted, “The damage is done, my friend.”
Alas, here we are more than four months later, and we still don’t know what kind of damage has been done.
Though most of the country has completely forgotten about this story (even though it was treated like a felony offense when it happened), the folks over at Pro Football Talk have not. They asked NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy for an update on the “investigation,” considering the whole world saw the footage four months ago and it did not indicate any cheating was taking place.
“The matter remains under review,” McCarthy told PFT.
That is the update. Here, in mid-April, 2020. “The matter remains under review.”
The matter? Oh that matter? It remains … under review.
How that matter remains under review is anybody’s guess, really. For background, a Kraft Sports & Entertainment employee was following a scout for the Patriots as part of the production of an online video for the Patriots’ “Do Your Job” series. Having already interviewed the scout, the videographer moved down to the front row of the press box to gather some shots of what the scout actually watches during games. This is what’s known to every first-year film student as B-roll.
But pointing a camera at the field and recording is a violation of rules, so a Bengals employee made a call, and the videographer and his footage was apprehended. (That Bengals employee was a real character.)
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) December 15, 2019
The Patriots admitted to what happened. The league launched an investigation, even though Jay Glazer shared the footage on Fox. It showed precisely what the Patriots admitted to. Yet the investigation continued. And continued. And it still apparently continues.
Obviously, the Patriots’ history with videos and sidelines elevated this incident to a unique level. But after actually seeing the footage and after being unable to make any connection between the videographer and the football operations department, it’s difficult to imagine what the NFL may be examining in April of 2020 regarding this incident. In late February, a report said the NFL was close to wrapping up the investigation. Late February was a while ago.
Nevertheless. After struggling to make those connections in late December, the NFL is apparently not giving up hope that it’s going to catch the Patriots in the midst of the world’s worst cheating scheme.
The NFL can’t really use the whole coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for this dragging on forever, either. That’s because the league has kept its head down and done its best to conduct business as usual, despite unprecedented circumstances affecting every other business in the United States. And considering the interviews wrapped up in late February (for something that happened in early December), there’s really no reason for a resolution to have not been filed and publicized by now.
Considering draft picks would theoretically be on the table for punishment, it’s possible that the NFL has a goal of finishing the “investigation” before next week. (That’s likely what inspired PFT to ask the question.) Then again, this is the “investigation” that never ends. It may live on for a few more months. Just to be safe.