New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his team have been fined three quarters of a million dollars today, and they'll lose at least one draft choice, all for videotaping New York Jets coaches last week.
In response to what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called "a calibrated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules," the commissioner brought down the hammer: Hitting Belichick with the largest coaching fine in league history - $500,000 - and docking the team another $250,000. The Patriots will also likely forfeit a coveted first-round draft pick next year.
As CBS News correspondent Armen Keteyian reports, NFL rules state that "no video recording devices of any kind are permitted...in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." Still, sources say, twice last season the three-time Super Bowl champions were accused of stealing defensive signals, giving a distinct play-calling advantage to a quarterback.
All of which made what happened on the sidelines here in New York last week so upsetting to the league, when a Patriots team assistant was caught videotaping Jets coaches during the first quarter of Sunday's game. His camera and tape were confiscated, with shots of Jets coaches making hand signals found on the footage.
All NFL teams live on the edge of the rules - some clubs pumping in artificial crowd noise to drown out an opposing quarterback's calls; punters heating balls to soften the leather and add distance. But "Patriotgate" was something else.
A harsh shadow has been cast on the league's model franchise, and the image of an iconic coach - who today had this to say:
"It's over, we're moving on, my focus is San Diego."
Edited Transcript Of Friday's Press Conference With Bill Belichick:
Bill Belichick: OK, I know there is a lot of interest here on the situation and the decision last night, but as I stated, it's over and we're moving on. Right now, all of my energy and focus and attention is on the San Diego Chargers and our game Sunday night. So, that's where we're at.
Q: Do you want to address the fans, your customers, sir?
Belichick: We're moving on to San Diego. That's what I'm addressing. All my energy is on the San Diego Chargers.
Q: Moving on to San Diego, is there something that you will be doing different than you did last weekend with your video assistant? Will he not be on the sidelines any more? Will he not be videotaping?
Belichick: That's correct. That's correct.
Q: What won't be happening?
Belichick: We will change our procedure on that.
Q: Can you describe what the procedure will be, I mean, as you focus on San Diego?
Belichick: Look, we're getting ready for the Chargers, and that's plenty to get ready for. They're a great football team. They're coming in here, had a big win against Chicago, and we're doing what we can to get ready for them. OK, everything else is in the past. We're done with it.
Q: Can you explain how you misinterpreted the rule?
Belichick: It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. We're moving on. The decision's been made. We're moving ...
Q: But you lost a draft pick over it and you were fined a half-million dollars. It does matter.
Belichick: It already happened. So right now, we're focusing in on what's in front of us, and that's the Chargers. We're moving on.
Q: To put any rumors to rest, would you care to comment on people suggesting this has happened in the past? Does it taint your record in the past?
Belichick: All my focus is on the San Diego Chargers. I'm just working to get ready for that team. Everything is ... the commissioner's ruled.
Q: Do you get to pay a half-million dollars in installments or do you have to pay it up front?
Belichick: I'm just thinking about the Chargers.
Q: With the Chargers in mind, this mentions in the statement you apologize for the distraction. Is that going to impact your team's preparation at all?
Belichick: We're going to try to do the best we can to get ready the next couple (of days). We have Friday, Saturday and all day Sunday. We're going to do all we can to be ready and put our best effort out there. That's me and everybody involved in the game for this team, so that's what we're doing.
Q: Why didn't the statement apologize to the Jets?
Belichick: We're moving on. San Diego.
Q: How difficult is it to move on with this sort of ...?
Belichick: My focus is on the Chargers. I understand that there is interest out there. I understand that there are a lot of stories, but everything is in the past. It's been decided. It's over with, and we're heading to San Diego.
Q: How much of that do you figure if you win games, everything else will be forgotten?
Belichick: There is nothing you can do about the past.
Q: Do you feel the punishment was appropriate?
Belichick: It doesn't make any difference.
Q: Has this affected your ability to prepare this week at all?
Belichick: At points, it's taken a little time out of it, but, you know, we'll be ready. We'll do what we've done, what we normally do. We'll do what we do today and Saturday and Sunday. We know we're going to have to be at our best against San Diego. They're good in all three phases of the game. (coughs) Excuse me. That's where we need to be.
Q: What do you say to fans that have stood by the team and now want to hear from you?
Belichick: I think I've addressed it and right now, it's time to address the Chargers. I think that is what is the most important thing for our football team, is to address the San Diego Chargers and that's what we're going to do.
Q: Could you have fathomed last Sunday morning, that this is where you would be a week later?
Belichick: It doesn't really make any difference. Right now, everything that has happened is in the past. It's been ruled on. It's over and I'm moving forward. My focus and energy is on the San Diego Chargers. So, if there's any questions on that, I'd be happy to try to work with you on them.
Q: Do you feel that commissioner Goodell gave you ample opportunity to explain your side of things?
Belichick: I'm moving on.
Q: Would you admit at least you made a mistake here?
Belichick: I've made a statement and I think that all of that's been covered.
Q: Do you have any message to young coaches or young kids that are coming up in the sport who would look up to someone like yourself? What lessons they should learn from this?
Belichick: I'm going to try to do the best job that I can coaching this football team and our football team is going to do the best job we can playing and representing this team and our fans and this organization on the field. That's the way it's always been. We're going to work hard to do that.
Q: How important is it to follow the rules of the game?
Belichick: We're going to continue to work hard to do that.