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The Impact of Bill Belichick's OTA Violations on the NFL

The Impact of Bill Belichick's OTA Violations on the NFL

  The Patriots missed two OTA sessions this spring due to violation of NFL rules, with special teams coach Joe Judge keeping players at Gillette Stadium longer than necessary on May 1, 2, and 4. He incurred fines as a result of this misconduct. Losing practices won't negatively affect this season, but it is sure to garner notice and draw criticism. The Impact on the Team New England Patriots found out the hard way that following rules can have serious repercussions, with two of their 10 allotted OTA practice days taken away by the NFL for rule violations in this offseason, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Although not as severe as Spygate or Deflategate, any rule violations still can have lasting effects and be damaging for any team. Reiss reported that the Patriots were fined by the NFL for conducting an OTA session that went beyond four hours, led by offensive assistant coach Joe Judge conducting special teams workshops that caused both offensive and defensive players to stay longer at Gillette Stadium than allowed. Though this might seem like an insignificant detail, losing two practice days could prove costly for a team with so much on its plate this season. Losing those chances would limit rookie and new player integration into Bill O'Brien's offense and slow progress. As an added benefit, OTAs allow teams less time to prepare their new playbook and for coaches to evaluate players and decide who will make the cut for next season. Belichick's offseason practices tend to be highly structured. He and his coaching staff create an agenda for every practice session, including which drills they plan on running as well as any game simulations they might undertake. Therefore, it can often come as a shock when teams are penalized heavily for violating NFL protocol during practice sessions. Teams have historically been penalized for violating OTA rules by permitting contact and/or wearing pads during non-contact practice sessions, but this year the Patriots alone have been fined for violation during a meeting involving meetings - an inexcusable mistake from a team that prides itself on meticulous planning. The Impact on the Coaching Staff The New England Patriots had planned on starting organized team activities (OTAs) this Thursday, but had to delay it due to an unfortunate circumstance. Mike Reiss of ESPN reported that two OTA sessions this week and next were barred due to violating NFL rules - an offense not related to contact or pads according to Reiss. According to Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal, the Patriots were fined $50,000 by the league for breaching their own offseason policies. According to Bedard's report, it appears they violated these policies when listing an optional meeting as mandatory on their internal calendar despite it actually being optional. Teams have in the past been penalized for various infractions during OTAs, which has often led to coaches receiving significant fines. Last season alone saw both Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys penalized two OTA sessions for violating NFL non-contact practices rules and being fined $100,000 each as penalties. The New England Patriots may not have committed the most severe OTA violations in recent memory, but their offense still threatens their team and should be seen as detrimental. They will likely forfeit these OTAs as it will disrupt offseason preparations and reduce their ability to implement Bill O'Brien's new offense before season opening. At this point, it's unfortunate that the team must cancel an open practice that was scheduled to open its doors to media. This was an ideal chance for them to establish themselves with reporters and build anticipation for 2023 campaign - however with only eight total OTA days this year and three minicamp days before regular season kicks off on September 7, this was likely unnecessary drama for them this offseason. The Impact on the Fans The New England Patriots haven't had an easy start to this offseason. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Wednesday that they have been fined by the NFL and lost two out of their 10 scheduled OTA sessions due to an infraction related to listing meetings as mandatory rather than optional on their internal calendar, violating NFL regulations. Bill Belichick himself was fined $50,000 as well for this violation. While it isn't nearly as high-profile as SpyGate or DeflateGate, Patriots fans remain concerned. Coming off of an unsuccessful season, they need as much practice time on the field as possible before next season begins - two OTA sessions have come and gone already so it may be harder than expected for everyone on team to find unity as they prepare for 2023 season. According to Reiss, the league has not given any explanation as to why their penalty has been assessed; however, this could be related to player or coach contact on the sidelines during practice that violated NFL player conduct policy and could result in forfeited OTA sessions for teams involved. The NFL has long taken measures to control such activity, with the Patriots becoming just the latest team punished. Games had to be cancelled due to this pandemic outbreak; hence it appears as though league is becoming more stringent with teams who violate offseason rules. Though not as serious as some issues in recent history, this incident still leaves fans questioning if the Patriots are cheating again. Their reputation as one of the shadiest franchises has taken an immense beating over time and this incident further dented it. Hopefully they can avoid additional penalties in future and focus on winning games for their fans; that will be their only hope at winning back some of their affection. The Impact on the Media Few teams in the NFL can match the New England Patriots when it comes to rules violations over an extended period, like Spygate or Deflategate. Although such scandals seem commonplace for this team, this latest one may take the cake. On Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported that two Patriots OTA sessions were suspended by the NFL due to rules violations. No live contact is permitted during these portions of off-season practice sessions and pads aren't permitted either - per league guidelines for OTAs that must be strictly adhered to to avoid penalties like this one. Reiss' report didn't elaborate on what the rule entailed, so Pro Football Talk conducted some additional investigation and discovered it involved an OTA day meeting that had originally been listed as optional but had later become mandatory - thus violating NFLPA guidelines. According to the Boston Sports Journal, special teams coach Joe Judge was at the heart of this controversy. According to reports by Boston Sports Journal, Judge allegedly ran meetings/workshops which caused offensive and defensive players to stay at the facility longer than allowed between May 1-4; this violated Article 21 Section 5(b) of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Given their track record of violating rules violations, this was a considerable fine from the NFL. While this might seem like a heavy punishment for such a simple meeting, it should have no lasting repercussions when kickoff rolls around in September. What it does show, though, is that the NFL takes its offseason rules seriously and is willing to penalize teams that violate them. Recent seasons have seen several teams lose OTA days due to similar violations. Most often these violations involve on-field contact that results in a $100,000 fine for the offending coach - hopefully not happening with the Patriots this time!

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