NEW YORK – The NFL is looking into claims a New England Patriots employee was videotaping signals by Jets coaches on New York's sideline during the season opener.
The investigation was first reported by ESPN.com, which said that NFL security confiscated a video camera and tape from a Patriots employee during New England's 38-14 victory Sunday. The employee was accused of aiming his camera at the Jets' defensive coaches, who were sending signals out to the players, sources told the Web site.
"The rule is that 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," the league said in a statement from spokesman Greg Aiello. "Clubs have specifically been reminded in the past that the videotaping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals on the sidelines is prohibited.
"We are looking into whether the Patriots violated this rule."
The story was first reported on the Web site of Jets Confidential, which said the Jets chief of security alerted NFL security about the issue during the game.
"With anything along those lines, those are all league-related matters, and anything that deals with an issue like this or anything on a team-by-team basis, those all go to the league," coach Eric Mangini said in his news conference Monday.
When asked if the Jets had in fact notified the league, he said: "It's all a league matter."
Patriots spokesman Stacey James declined comment. New England cornerback Ellis Hobbs said he was unaware of the controversy, and unwilling to believe his team had cheated.
"We put too many hours in as individuals and a team to have to go out and cheat," he said. "If it's true, obviously, we're in the wrong. But I'm standing behind my team, my coaches. I don't think we do that stuff."
Last November, the Green Bay Packers had an issue with a man wearing a Patriots staff credential and carrying a video camera on the sidelines at Lambeau Field.
Teams are allowed to have a limited number of their own videographers on the sideline during the game, but they must have a credential that authorizes them to shoot video, and wear a yellow vest. But Packers spokesman Jeff Blumb said the person in question didn't have the right credential and wasn't wearing a yellow vest, so Packers security asked him to put away the camera.