There have been a few instances of the Patriots bending the rules in the past to get a competitive edge. Some may recall the Indianapolis response to the loss the Patriots gave them in the playoffs a few years ago. They insisted that the Patriots had manhandled their receivers which brought the "five yard chuck" rule to prominence at the beginning of the following season. Now the accusation is that the Patriots personnel were videotaping defensive signs in order to interpret them and make the proper adjustments before the play. Bill Belichick made the following statement about the matter:
"Earlier this week, I spoke with Commissioner Goodell about a videotaping procedure during last Sunday's game and my interpretation of the rules. At this point, we have not been notified of the league's ruling. Although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players. Following the league’s decision, I will have further comment.”
I'm not quite sure what there is here that could potentially be misinterpreted. The Game Operations Manual states:
"no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." and that "all video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."
If a Patriots employee was on the field operating a video camera then this would seem to be a fairly open and shut case. This will most likely cost the Patriots some late day 1 draft picks. I don't think that this really takes away from the Patriots victory on Sunday or the credibility of this team. There's been numerous examples of teams incurring some lesser rules infractions and continuing to have successful seasons after being penalized. The Broncos going over the salary cap with John Elway and the Steelers working out in shoulder pads in the offseason are some of the more prominent examples and both teams were similarly penalized. With any luck the Patriots will move forward from this, play a great game against the highly touted Chargers and silence some of their critics.