Yesterday morning the NFL issued a statement the Denver Broncos and Josh McDaniels would each be fined $50,000 for their involvement in illegal taping of a 49ers practice at Wembley Stadium on October 30. McDaniels was fined because even though the investigation determined he did not attempt to view the footage, he failed to report it immediately. The Broncos organization found out about this incident on November 8 and disclosed it to the NFL shortly thereafter. The Broncos were fined because the organization is responsible for the actions of its employees.
In the day or so since that information was revealed, I've seen a variety of comments here and through Twitter in which people are either demanding the 49ers get some kind of draft pick compensation, or at least asking if the 49ers will get such compensation. Given the comments I thought I'd include my own official position on the issue. If you disagree and have counter-arguments I would love to hear them.
While I would certainly love to see the 49ers get additional draft picks in 2011, I do not think the actions involved should result in the 49ers actually getting such picks. I did a little research into the first Spygate and came across some articles that explained the punishment for the Patriots illegally filming the signals of the New York Jets coaches in their 2007 season opener. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were fined $250,000. Additionally, the Patriots were docked their first round pick in 2008, or their second and third round picks if they did not make the playoffs.
Before we go any further, right there the Patriots were docked a draft choice (they made the playoffs that year) but the Jets did not receive that pick. Some might argue a difference exists in that the Broncos were trying to tape actual plays as compared to hand signals in the Spygate case. The difference, in my opinion, is one of intent. In the Broncos case, the league's investigation determined that McDaniels and the Broncos were not purposefully trying to do this. Whether you believe that or not, that's what the league decided. In the investigation of Spygate, Roger Goodell's letter to the Patriots said:
"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," Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to the Patriots.
"I specifically considered whether to impose a suspension on Coach Belichick," Goodell also wrote. "I have determined not to do so, largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first-round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long-lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension."
In Spygate, it seems like Bill Belichick was much more involved than what we see from McDaniels. I suppose people will refuse to believe the NFL's investigation this time around, but there's not a whole lot that can be done about that. And given the NFL's punishment imposed in a previous instance of illegal filming, I don't see why the NFL wouldn't come down just as hard this time if there had been illicit intent.
If anybody disagrees I'd like to hear the opposing arguments for why the 49ers should get a draft pick. Again, I certainly wouldn't mind draft pick compensation, but given the context of the situation I just don't see the reason for it other than to make us happy as 49ers fans.