Transparency isn’t what either the NFL in general or the New England Patriots in particular are known for, but in the case of the lingering controversy regarding the taping of the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline a week before their game against the Patriots, it’s precisely what all parties need.

If impeachment hearings can be shown live, then why would the NFL think it is more important than the highest office in the land? The NFL should conduct a live hearing, followed by a live press conference that includes the Patriots’ videographers and others taking the stand to answer questions from the league and then from reporters.

Think that might draw a nice audience for the NFL Network? Also, the NFL should seize the rights to the “Do Your Job” episode featuring the advance scout, sell ads for it and air it on the NFL Network.

Not only that, It would enhance the integrity of the league and of the Patriots, if, as it appears, the Patriots filmed the sideline for the purpose of feeding the footage to the coaching staff.

League investigators and reporters could pepper the videographers about the level of their experience in football press boxes, their knowledge of league rules, who assigned them to the game, what instructions they were and weren’t given, what input the advance scouts had in their decisions on where to point the camera, etc.

Otherwise, we’re all left to guess, all left to take the word of the Patriots and/or league investigators.

The most interesting aspect of the 45-second clip, obtained by NFL Insider Jay Glazer and aired on the Fox pregame show, involves the sheer panic in the voice of the videographer when a stunned member of Bengals security questions him about what in the world he was up to and how in the world he couldn’t know he wasn’t allowed to do what he was doing.

The videographer, David Mondillo of Kraft Sports and Entertainment, could not have sounded more guilty if he were a high school student caught in the teacher’s grade book changing a D to a B.

“I didn’t know, I’m sorry. But I can delete this right here for you,” he said.

His demeanor convinces me more than ever that this was a case of a lone shooter, not a conspiracy originating in the office of Bill Belichick, a preparation freak who has a knack for putting people in positions to succeed. If sending a spy into the field, he would have selected someone with nerves of steel and would have armed the spy with a better escape hatch than offering to destroy the evidence.

And I’m guessing Belichick would not have instructed the spy to hide in plain sight, wearing Patriots gear and setting up right in front of Bengals scouts. You never see cameras in the press box, so the fact that there was one up there in the first place would arouse suspicion. Anyone who has ever been in a press box or is familiar with NFL rules knows that there was no way that the videographers would not be caught, stopped and questioned and the evidence confiscated.

Does anyone honestly believe that Belichick, 100 percent informed in every aspect of the NFL rulebook, would authorize a scheme guaranteed to fail and just as certain to create a needless distraction?

Mondillo was suspended by Kraft Sports, according to a media report. On Sunday evening, he issued a statement.

“I was doing what I have done for more than 18 years – working to produce high-quality content that tells the unique, behind-the-scenes stories of people, players and the organization. It never occurred to me that my actions and the actions of my crew would be misconstrued,” Mondillo wrote.

As for the initial knee jerk reaction of the Patriots not wasting cheating on a 1-12 opponent, Michael Strahan did a nice job of debunking that aspect of it on the Fox pregame show. He mentioned that since Zac Taylor is a rookie head coach and that this would give the Patriots their first intelligence on him, a baseline of sorts. Fair point, but definitely not worth the risk for a small reward.

A public hearing, which would help all parties, won’t happen. Too bad. It makes so much sense.

Failing that, look for the league to believe that the Patriots’ football staff had nothing to do with this sloppy mess, which does not take the organization off the hook for creating it. Look for the Patriots getting slammed with a big fine they deserve, and if a draft choice is part of the punishment, it’s difficult to imagine it would come in the first two days of the draft.


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