Goodell on Pats probe: Won’t rush to conclusions

NFL

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday at the league meetings that the NFL wouldn’t make any judgments until the investigation is complete into the New England Patriots inappropriately filming the Cincinnati sideline during Sunday’s game in Cleveland.

The club has acknowledged that a three-person crew producing a web series titled “Do Your Job” didn’t properly inform the Browns. The Patriots said they turned over all the footage to the league after being confronted. New England plays at the Bengals on Sunday.

“The sole purpose of the filming was to provide an illustration of an advance scout at work on the road,” the Patriots said in a statement earlier this week. “There was no intention of using footage for any other purpose.”

The Patriots also said the production crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, is not part of New England’s football operation.

“The football team, the football staff and the coaching staff had nothing to do with what happened,” coach Bill Belichick told reporters Wednesday. “Nothing. So, we have no involvement in it.”

Asked if the advance scout was aware of the rules barring filming from the press box, Belichick said, “He was doing his job. That’s what he was doing, he was doing his job. Like we all tried to do.

“That’s what the football team, the football staff and the coaching staff did last week was try to do their job for Kansas City, and then Cincinnati, and then Buffalo next week, and that’s it.”

In 2007, the Patriots were fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick for violating NFL rules against using video to steal signals in a scandal dubbed “Spygate.” Belichick was also fined $500,000.

Asked if New England’s side of the latest story was believable, Goodell said, “One of the things I’ve learned is you don’t draw conclusions until you have all the information. Once we have all the information, then we draw conclusions. We’re not going to draw conclusions along the way.”

Goodell said the previous incident did affect the current situation, “But I think the key things are the new information that we have. I think the issue is what information do we have from this incident?”

In other topics:

• Amid the concern and controversy over coaches challenges and video reviews of pass interference, the NFL plans a hard look at the rules adjustment instituted this season.

The change was for the 2019 season only and the 32 team owners would have to ratify it again — on a temporary or permanent basis — for it to be continued. Thus far, inconsistencies in how the penalties are being called and with decisions made after video reviews have plagued the system.

“There’s no question there’s been angst,” Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and head of the NFL’s powerful competition committee said Wednesday at the league meetings. “I’ve felt the angst. I felt the angst with our team, feel the angst of others. But it’s a new rule. It’s a big change. It’s something we haven’t done before. So I don’t want to prejudge what the outcome could be.”

McKay and league football operations chief Troy Vincent said the subject will be “a point of discussion” in the offseason.

“I think from the committee’s standpoint, what we typically do is we’ll go back and we’ll look at every single review and we will look at it from the standpoint as a committee, ‘Would we have reversed that? Would we not have reversed that?’ McKay explained. ”After you do that, which is what we did last year with use of helmet — I think we looked at 120 use of helmet plays. You get a good sense of, `Can we do this better? Does this have a path to get better and more efficient and more effective and more predictable? And what are the challenges?”

Goodell said “consistency is the number one thing we’re always trying to achieve.”

“And we every year have engaged in changes that have been designed to make us more consistent and better,” Goodell said. “Obviously, the standard keeps getting higher as we add new elements. But I think what people see nowadays with technology is much greater than it was even five years ago.

“I think our officials do an outstanding job, but we always seek to improve and we will engage in that. We have engaged in that. And I promise you that will continue.”

Vincent emphasized that his job is to evaluate all officiating matters.

“My role is to gather all the information and evaluate it, myself included,” he said. “What are we doing? When you look at officiating this year, there’s a cloud over PI. We had, once Week 1 through 3 were in, there was a substantial amount of holding penalties that caused the penalty count to spike.

“We’ll look at everything. I’ll provide all of the data with how the committee comes in in February, this is where we are, from a people standpoint, a process standpoint, here’s how we fared among crews, among refs. That is something that we do each and every year.

“But my role is to evaluate and inform the committee, inform the commissioner, this is the state of officiating. We’ll come up with the best outcome from what’s best for the game.”

• Goodell said owners discussed the ongoing negotiations for a new labor agreement for about an hour but didn’t have much else to report. The collective bargaining agreement expires in March 2021.

“I know that we’ve committed to work hard and to try to keep the issues at the table and try to see if we can reach an agreement,” Goodell said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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