NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down the maximum allowable fine of $500,000 to New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and fined the Patriots organization an additional $250,000 for the being caught video taping opposing team’s coaches during games. In addition, the Patriots are being forced to forfeit a first round pick in next year’s draft if they make the playoffs or a second and third rounder if they do not make the playoffs.
“This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” Goodell said in a letter to the Patriots.
Many NFL fans and analysts were hoping for Belichick to be suspended, however, the Commissioner thought that the loss of a draft pick would hurt the team more in the long run than a single game suspension. Belichick was probably relieved.
“I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused.” said Belichick in a statement. “I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career. As the commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week’s game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.”
ESPN’s John Clayton was particularly disappointed with the outcome, especially since the Patriots actually have two first round draft picks next season; losing one of the picks isn’t much of a penalty he argued. “This was a harsh penalty, but in many ways, the Patriots got off easy,” said Clayton in his written response to the penalties.