Spygate II - The Overlooked Scandal

Denver Broncos and its Head Coach Josh McDaniels were both fined $50,000 by the NFL for engaging in what has already been dubbed Spygate II.

The origin of the NFL's latest scandal occurred overseas. When the Broncos matched up against the San Francisco 49ers in London on October 31, the Broncos video operations director Steve Scarnecchia allegedly video taped six minutes of the 49ers walk-through practice and presented it to McDaniels.

A mere six minutes of video has switched the NFL's public relations damage control operation into full gear.

McDaniels claimed he neither told Scarnecchia to make the tape, nor did he watch it after it was presented to him. The final score of the Broncos-49ers game seems to verify the truth in those statements as the 49ers won 24-16.

But is McDaniels telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

Let's face it. McDaniels time as head coach of the Denver Broncos seems to be waning. Perhaps the idea of cheating wouldn't be far from his mind, especially when his mentor, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, engaged in it for years.

Yes, let's make that absolutely clear. Belichick and the Patriots were breaking the NFL's rules by videotaping their opponents coaching signals. Both Belichick and the Patriots were fined record amounts for these repeated violations, and the team was even stripped of a first round draft pick.

For those Patriots fans who want to deny this reality, this is how NFL.com wrote of it on November 27, "The league's investigation determined New England had violated rules over several seasons."

 The interesting connection here is that both McDaniels and Scarnecchia worked for the Patriots, while the original Spygate was taking place.

Scarnecchia worked for the Patriots between 2001 and 2005. As NFL.com wrote, "He [Scarnecchia] was found to have participated in the videotaping when he worked for the Patriots in the early 2000s." Because of this, Scarnecchia is facing expulsion from the NFL for a second offense. He may be barred from the league for life.

Let us go back a brief moment to early in the 2007 season, when the Spygate scandal originally broke. If you recall, the NFL (and by default, the Patriots) proclaimed that the videotaping of the Jets' signals was an "isolated incident." In fact, the "one and only tape" was securely in the NFL's possession. Of course, a short time later, that "one and only tape" was aired on the Fox Sports NFL pre-game show.

Obviously, the NFL was lying. The Patriots were cheating for at least seven seasons by illegally videotaping their opponents, and the league had complaints from several teams prior to 2007, proving this to be true. The Patriots still won three Super Bowls during that era. Yet no one hints that these are tainted victories.

But if both the NFL and the Patriots spun the story in such a way as to downplay the truth and depth of the cheating occurring, then who's to say similar conduct is not on-going in Denver today?

The wagons have already been circled by both the league and the Broncos.

On the Broncos end, they conducted an "internal investigation" to make sure this wasn't more than an "isolated incident." Of course, they knew both McDaniels and Scarnecchia worked for the Patriots during the Spygate era, and that Scarnecchia had been reprimanded for his part in Spygate.

Despite being punished once, we're supposed to believe that Scarnecchia acted as a rogue agent in taping six minutes worth of the 49ers walk-through practice for apparently his own reasons. Why would he do this? What were his motives? Was it to garner more attention within the organization? Who knows, as he won't talk...yet.

As for McDaniels, he could've been fired outright for this incident. But he wasn't. Instead, McDaniels had to publicly apologize for something he claims to have had no part of. An odd admission for an innocent party. What's also interesting is that the NFL went out of its way to add that McDaniels had no part in the original Spygate scandal, and therefore wasn't facing the same fate as Scarnecchia.

The NFL clearly wants to squash this "isolated incident" immediately. It's investigation on the heels of the Broncos own (which reportedly included the confiscation of laptop computers) also "proved" there was nothing more to the story than the six minutes of tape that seemed to be worthless to all involved.

Commissioner Goodell issued the "all clear" signal, and other NFL spokesmen have done their duty in putting a quick end to any questions of Spygate and its sequel.

The question is, should fans really believe it?

In the end, McDaniels did lose his job with the Broncos; however, this was not due to Spygate II but rather his poor coaching abilities. Even so, the St. Louis Rams quickly scooped up McDaniels and installed him as their new offensive coordinator. Time will tell if McDaniels remains controversy free in St. Louis.