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You thought you heard the last of it, but Spygate has reared its ugly head once again. This time, the Denver Broncos have been embroiled in a scandal involving former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant Steve Scarnecchia, the son of current Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
After an investigation, the NFL determined that Steve Scarnecchia took a six-minute video of a San Francisco 49ers walkthrough at practice in London two days before the 49ers won 24-16. The report said that Scarnecchia acted alone and offered to show the video to McDaniels, who then declined to watch it. Still, the NFL fined both the Broncos and McDaniels $50,000 each for failing to report the incident to the league in a timely manner.
“We certainly did not view or do anything with the footage, and he was made aware that it was something we didn’t condone in our organization,” McDaniels said Saturday. “I failed to follow through and report it to the proper individuals in our organization and with the league.”
Scarnecchia was also stuck in the investigation of the Patriots spying scandal in 2007. Apparently in the early 2000’s, Scarnecchia participated in illegally videotaping teams, and is now seen as a repeat offender. The NFL will now determine whether Scarnecchia needs to be permanently banned from the league.
“When we hired Steve, it was with the understanding that he would come here and do good work,” McDaniels said. “In no way did we think this situation or type of situation would come up and be an issue for us or for him.”
The Broncos, who were aware of Scarnecchia’s connection to the original Spygate scandal, waited two weeks to notify the NFL, and Scarnecchia remained employed by Denver through mid-November. League officials determined that was way too late, and laid down the harsh punishment. Scarnecchia has since been fired by the Broncos.
“Although I find no fault with the way the club handled this matter once you and your executives became aware of it, I nonetheless believe that some penalty must be imposed,” Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to Broncos team owner Pat Bowlen. “We have no more important responsibility than preserving the integrity and competitive fairness of the game and avoiding any implication that games are decided by anything other than what takes place on the field.”
While I feel the media overreacted to Matt Walsh and the explosive Spygate scandal in the past, I have to say this latest incident is alarming. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you believe Scarnecchia acted alone, then you also believe Tim Donaghy was the only corrupt official in the NBA.
This scandal is ultimately McDaniels’ responsibility, and the former Pats coordinator may find himself out of a job at season’s end.
Is this latest charge against a former Belichick employee an indictment on the Patriots coach and organization? Only time will tell. I can tell you one thing: it doesn’t make the team’s image any cleaner.