Bill Belichick’s $500,000 Spygate Fine Still Holds This NFL Record

Bill Belichick is one of the biggest names in sports. As one of the NFL’s most winning coaches, he has led dominating teams for most of his career. While the Patriots coach holds some of the best records in the NFL, he also holds some not so great records either. Those records aren’t about winning or losing games, though — they’re about Bill Belichick breaking the rules and incurring punishment from the NFL as a result.

Belichick is one of the most dominating coaches in the NFL

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick addresses the media during a press conference. | Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Belichick has been coaching since 1991, starting with the Cleveland Browns. In 1995, he went to the New York Jets as assistant head coach. In 2000, he left the Browns for the New England Patriots and has been the head coach there since. 

In his 21 years with the Patriots, Belichick has brought home six Super Bowl wins, with an additional three AFC championship wins. His total win-loss record with the Patriots is 245 wins to 93 losses.

Love them or hate them, the New England Patriots were the team to beat for nearly 20 years. He was the taciturn and brilliant head coach. In Tom Brady and an impressive roster of receivers and backs, Belichick had offensive weapons to spare. His defense was just as impressive. 

No matter how you look at it, it’s a dominating, brilliant career. Unfortunately, it’s tarnished by the largest fine against a coach in NFL history.

Belichick was fined heavily over Spygate

Spygate, as it came to be called, was the investigation into the use of video equipment to record opposing teams’ practices. Belichick and the Patriots were accused of taping opposing teams defensive signals, which is explicitly against the rules. According to the 2007 Game Operations Manual:

“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.” 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to the scandal, declaring, “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” according to ESPN.

A Patriots video assistant was found on the New York Jets sideline during a game. His camera was confiscated, and the NFL came down hard on the Patriots. 

The Patriots won that game against the Jets, by a wide margin of 38-14. Goodell didn’t overturn the outcome of that game, but he did make harsh statements against the Patriots organization, and to Belichick himself. 

Bill Belichick’s fine for Spygate made NFL history

Belichick was given the biggest fine for a coach in NFL history, and the team lost their first round draft pick. 

Goodell said that he considered suspending Belichick, but he decided that the loss of draft picks would be a harsher punishment to the team, and to Belichick. “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,” Goodell said.

Ultimately, Belichick was fined $500,000, which amounted to 12% of his salary that year. The team was also fined $250,000 on top of losing the draft pick.

Belichick did respond publicly to the punishment, though he didn’t say much about actually taping any signals or plays. He apologized for the “embarrassment, distraction, and penalty (his) mistake caused.” Additionally, he apologized to Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, as well as to the Patriots organization and to fans. He thanked them for their support during the investigation.

Belichick went on to say that the use of sideline video did not affect the outcome of the game with the Jets, and that the Patriots never used any video while that game was in progress.

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