Taping is legal, kiddies

by Prof. Bud Light
(The Brewery)

Prof. Bud Light

Prof. Bud Light

Wow, some real grade school analysis here.

Stealing Signs 101.

Strange that someone would write so much about the illegal stealing of signs when...stealing signs is not illegal.

From SI in 2002.

Lipreading is a feverish topic in the NFL these days. Coaches are covering their mouths when they send in plays because they're suspicious that thieves are watching. The coaches look like they had onions for lunch or just graduated from the Istanbul Spy Institute. "We hear rumors all the time about opposing coaches hiring guys to read our lips," says Cardinals offensive coordinator Rich Olson.

It's no rumor, pal. "Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game," says Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter."

Ok, take out your notebooks and cross out everywhere you thought that stealing signs is illegal. Wow, you guys are misinformed.

Espn's John Clayton. 2006
Teams are always trying to steal signs and signals off other teams. That's just football."

Extra Credit research. Read the following and write an essay on how it relates to Spygate.


Videotaping 101.

Now on to taping. Do you understand that teams videotape? I bet you don't.

For example, Jet's coach Eric Mangini says the Jets have regularly shot tape from both end zones at home and on the road since Mangini's arrival last season. They also give permission to do likewise to any visiting team at Giants Stadium, Mangini said.

“We do it every (game), regardless of playoff (or) preseason, just like we do it every day in practice," Mangini said. “It's not really that big a deal.

In fact NFL's Greg Aiello on the Jets taping from the Patriots mezzanine:

"It is not uncommon for visiting team video crews to request permission to shoot coaching video from both upper end zone positions," spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email. "Home clubs must provide visiting clubs with equal vantage points for the taping of games.

Teams typically shoot coaching video from one upper 50-yard line location and one upper end zone location, but there are no restrictions on shooting from both upper end zone positions as long as the opportunity is provided to both teams. No permission is needed from the league office."

How does this relate to P 105 of the Operations Manual you quote? Hmm, good question, young people.

Extra Credit assignment: Write an essay on how taping from a stadium location is less cheating than taping out in the open on the sidelines?

Finally, you note that Belichick references the Constitution and By-laws but you didn't mention them.

"Any use by any club at any time, from the start to the finish of any game in which such club is a participant, of any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited, including without limitation videotape machines, telephone tapping, or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game."

There was an emphasis on in-game use of tape. Since the Patriots never used them during the game, he felt it was fine. Also note that the above implies you are free to tape a game you are not involved in.

Class dismissed.

Editor's Note: Thanks Professor Light. Appreciate your guidance. However, you miss the entire point. You talk much about "stealing" signs by observing them. All of us agree that is totally fine.

You also talk about videotaping opposing team play. Again, we all agree that is perfectly fine.

The issue is -- taping opposing team signals. That is illegal as well it should be for the hundreds of reasons discussed on this site already.

So, please, report back to us when you can explain why taping signals (as Belichick did) is perfectly fine to do.


Comments for Taping is legal, kiddies

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Feb 18, 2008
illogical editor
by: katman

the editor's last comment proves that he is incapable of logical thinking.
Taping signals is NOT prohibited.
Say it all you want, but saying it doesn't make it so....Unless you live in another reality system.

Feb 18, 2008
Entrance Exam
by: Prof Bud Light

Ok, I'm back from some Extra Help.
Perhaps I should have tested students before taking my class. Notebooks open!

[B]Videotaping signals is not against the rules. [/B]

Clear your minds. Let out all the misconceptions that you hold so dear. Breathe. Write it down again:

[B]Videotaping signals is not against the rules. [/B]

Anderson's memo speaks of taping from the sideline. You could tape the cheerleader's assets or referees picking their noses, and it would be the same infraction.

[B]No Spying.[/B]
Also release yourself of this "spying" notion. Signals are given out in the open. Did you see the FOX tape of the "spying" of the Jets game? Three coaches giving different signals...pan to the down scoreboard...pan back.

A fan with a camera phone can get the signals. I doubt they could do anything with them as they don't know what they mean, but that's another discussion or class.

To educate you on the "accessible" issue - you left out mention of club staff. It meant places club staff are allowed to go - locker room, video room. That text is there because teams have loads of tape, but aren't allow to use their computers/editing equipment during the game. Panthers coach John Fox and say to someone, "Go check our video system and see what the Dolphins do on 3rd downs this year."

Videotaping signals isn't illegal. You can't do it from the sidelines.

Class dismissed.

Feb 27, 2008
He already explained it.
by: Anonymous

Taping the signals is not allowed. That much we know. However, watching the signals is not restricted. Team are allowed to observe, make notes, even voice recordings of defensive signals. The article even references it:

"It's no rumor, pal. "Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game," says Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter.""

In this case, Shanahan even talks about an IN GAME advantage! The Pats have said from the beggining that the tapes were for later use. If you are allowed to watch and make notes, but not record, then this is just a rule for the sake of a rule (side note: look at the NFL's uniform rules and tell me they don not have rules for no reason) If you think that the game film from the end zone does not show the defensive signals, than you are fooling yourself. The issue is not one of cheating, but one of a rule violation. The stiff penalty was simply to show teams and coaches that you should not ignore the commisioner. My opinon is that the entire issue has been blown out of proportion and should be dropped (the same opinion as Bill Polian by the way)

Mar 01, 2008
Video taping signals IS illegal
by: shlonger

wow, another delusional Cheatriots fan who thinks his mediocre team actually won those tainted Lombardi trophies fair and square. As others have already pointed out, the problem with your juvenille grade school analysis is that while attempting to steal signals via the naked eye is legal, using video equipment to do so is not. So illegal in-fact that the NFL warned teams (ahem, the Patriots) not to do it after one team (ahem, the Patriots) got caught doing it in 2006. Belicheat (realizing that he is nothing without cheating) still had to resort to it in 2007 and was appropriate penalized.

I can't wait till they ban him for life once they find evidence that he lied during the investigation.

Have fun enjoying your meaningless trophies.

Mar 02, 2008
Actually Mr editor..
by: God

Actually Mr editor, the Prof explained quite clearly why BB felt it was no big deal.

Mar 09, 2008
RE: Taping is Legal, Kiddies
by: Scott Sheaffer

You said the following to "Bud Light." "The issue is -- taping opposing team signals. That is illegal as well it should be for the hundreds of reasons discussed on this site already." I believe you're mistaken. You've gotten Ray Anderson's September 2006 memo jumbled with the actual rule appearing on page 105 of THE NFL GAME OPERATIONS MANUAL. Teams aren't banned from all taping of signals, they're banned from operating their cameras in three specific locations: "the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." That language about all other areas "accessible to club staff members during the game"? It's from Anderson's memo. It's not in the actual rule. Last I checked, Ray Anderson didn't have the authority to rewrite rules. Rule changes must be proposed and then voted on by the teams to be valid. So, as the rules are currently written, taping signals is legal as long as the cameras are properly located. Goodell and Anderson may not agree, but that's how it appears in plain black and white in the OPERATIONS MANUAL. What the Patriots did was violate a minor technicality on camera placement, something about as serious as going 10 miles over the speed limit. Goodell came after them like they robbed a bank, and now a mob wants them punished like they committed murder.

PS: Although I disagree with you, I gave this page 5 stars because you've presented your views in a thoughtful and articulate manner.

Jul 29, 2013
guilty of camera location
by: bythebook

I was debating this controversy with a friend on wether the patriots actually violated the rules or not when they recorded signals and found this thread online.

What ive understood is that the patriots weren't in violation of the rules when they recorded the signals--what was criticized by the media at the time--but rather WHERE they recorded the game(from the sidelines).

The nfls memo to teams in 2006 about recording practices is obsolete because it wasnt in the rule book and is only relevant in a moral argument. this is enlightening because alot of the arguments claiming the patriots cheated included the memo and interweaved moral and lawful wrongdoings. this is the only site i found which argued the rules.

Mar 14, 2015
Why Everyone Hates or Persecutes the Patriots
by: Anonymous

The real reason everyone hates the patriots, is because other than the fact that they had many tapes "similar" to the one that the jets confiscated.. all we have to go on is a bunch of conjecture and rumors FROM BOTH SIDES, which looks even more shady when all the evidence was destroyed, and wasn't even described to us in an acceptable way, i.e., when/how long, how many games, vs who, did they do in in the playoffs, what actual evidence suggests Bill's claim it was for later games legitimate. and there was no investigation into other things they were allegedly doing or even a general one.

As a panther fan who watched the Patriots beat us back in 04, i AM bitter, but while i believe it may have played a part in Tom's clutch play and some important defensive stops, you guys were the better team, and in the end you have to make the PLAY so you guys earned it in the end (if i was a Rams fan i would be far more angry and believe it was a much bigger factor). while it is unclear to me when the rule was created ('06?), it appears to me that while it is and was unscrupulous, it was 'legal' (not explicitly outlawed) to tape in game for the same game back then (not so much with walkthroughs, but thats just rumors so far it seems.).

I hear about how the electronic taping equipment they took into the practice before the Super Bowl vs. the Rams supposedly didn't have batteries (like that is something hard to find or hide).. Why The Fuck would you bring cameras to something and not use them? it all seems so odd.

1. Page 105 of the Game Operations manual says: "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." It later says: "All video shooting locations must be enclosed on all sides with a roof overhead."- the point of the enclosed on all sides is about it being unaccessible by coaches and players during the current game, and if you believe the patriots didn't use the tapes both in game AND in the future, your naive (especially in the PLAYOFFS verses non-division opponents, aka, the steelers). I agree that this is incredibly Vague, that is why the memo was sent (although if the rule was actually amended to be more clear, seems unclear.)

2. And, a memo from Ray Anderson, NFL head of football operations, to head coaches and GMs on Sept. 6, 2006 said: "Video taping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent'€™s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game." s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."

CUT and DRY, if you can use it in game it is not allowed (shouldn't be allowed at all), why the fuck would we take Bill's word for it that they only used it for later dates? and even if he didn't, your not allowed the opportunity.

BTW, "Everybody did it/Everybody does it" makes everyone else hate you more, explain why it wasn't illegal just then (although you guys seemed then and now to have been at least one of the reasons for the clarifying memo.) and other relevant things, everybody did it is not only a horrible excuse, it not true and the idea that very many teams did is based of 4 or 5 comments supporting the idea, i don't doubt that they did but they are few not the many, that they TAPED (yes there is a huge difference between human senses and rewindable reliable footage) opposing teams signals for the same game or at least accessible if they wanted to. Everyone spies with naked eye, they always have, its just not the same, also the other controversies give credence to the conspiracy theorists idea that the patriots did more than just this. Consistently trying hard to circumvent the rules is not okay and needs to be stopped.

But most importantly the rule needs to be clarified and ENFORCED league wide. it's obvious this problem isn't gone.

(unedited, might be crappy sorry)




Mar 29, 2015
Link to the Actual Rule
by: Anonymous

This is in response to the anonymous post of March 14, 2005.
When you appear to cite pg. 105 of the 2007 Game Operations manual, you offer the same out of context quotes given in the Ray Anderson Memo and several news stories. You then incorrectly speculate that the enclosed booths guide line is to prevent coaches from getting access to video during the game. The actual reason for the enclosed booths is spelled out on pages A105-A106 (not page 105). It’s to ensure that teams’ video equipment and video personal have protection. The requirements for working heaters and fans indicate protection from weather conditions. No where on pages A105-A106 does it prohibit teams from recording coaching signals. That’s something Ray Anderson simply made up. Unfortunately, the guy in charge was Roger Goodell, who has turned out to be rather incompetent when it comes to understanding rules and overseeing investigations.
Here’s a link to 4 pages of the 2007 Game Operations Manual. The third and fourth pages are A105 and A106. The PDF was posted by The New York Times back in 2008.
Scott Sheaffer

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