HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. The spy games between the New York Jets and New England Patriots began last season.
The Jets were caught videotaping at Gillette Stadium last season and the Patriots had that New York employee removed from the area, according to published reports Wednesday. Jets coach Eric Mangini said his team received permission to film behind both end zones during the playoff game in January.
"We taped the game, is what we taped, and we taped end-zone copy of the game, and we tape a double end zone, which is standard operating procedure for us," Mangini said Wednesday. "We request that every single road game, and it's usually granted if physically it's possible. And when people request it from us, we do the same thing: We grant it."
Mangini maintained the Jets did nothing wrong, and had filmed at New England during the regular season without incident. It was nothing like what the Patriots did earlier this season, when a New England employee was caught taping New York's defensive signals and punished by the league.
"We do it every time we go on the road," Mangini repeated. "We ask for permission to do it. It's within the league rules, and when people ask us to do it, we grant it, as well."
When asked why the Patriots stopped the Jets if they had already given them permission, Mangini just shrugged.
"I don't know," he said. "Really, it just was what it was. We had asked for permission, it was granted and then that changed, and we respect their decision. It's their stadium."
Mangini was also asked if the Jets were, at all, taping the Patriots' defensive signals.
"No," Mangini said smugly.
He was then asked if the Patriots requested similar permission to have someone taping at various angles or end-zone angles. Again, Mangini replied simply: "No."
The Jets have not asked the undefeated Patriots if they can film from the end zones this Sunday at Foxborough.
"Just didn't look to get permission," Mangini said. "Didn't think it would be granted."
New England coach Bill Belichick refused to address the situation during his news conference with Patriots reporters.
"There's a lot of things that have happened in the past," Belichick said. "Really, the past is in the past."
Patriots players were also staying away from the issue, much as they did when Pittsburgh's Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory over New England last week.
"It just doesn't matter. Who cares?" safety Rodney Harrison said. "It has no impact whatsoever, just like when Smith made his comments. It has no impact. The game isn't won or lost through the media Monday through Saturday. It's won or lost on Sunday, 1 o'clock. It's whoever makes more plays."
This is just the latest in the long-running rivalry between the teams. After helping Belichick and the Patriots win three Super Bowls as a defensive assistant, Mangini left to become coach of the Jets. The relationship between the two has been frosty since.
Things got even chillier after a Patriots video assistant was caught taping from the sidelines during their game against the Jets in Week 1, a move some speculated fueled New England's drive to perfection. The NFL punished the Patriots by taking away their first-round draft pick, fined them $250,000 and fined Belichick another $500,000.
A league rule prohibits teams from using a video camera on the sidelines for any purpose. In the Jets' case, they were filming from the end zone. The Jets film from both end zones during practice, a common procedure used by NFL teams.
"When you practice, anytime you practice, you try to shoot the unit from the sideline and then from the end zone behind them, so that you can see hand placement, fits, that type of thing," Mangini said. "That's how you watch practice every day. That's how you evaluate practice every day. And it's the same thing with games. You like to have that same copy because, really, that's just an extension of the evaluation."
Mangini was unsure how many teams have asked for similar permission from New York, but said the Jets have granted it to those that have. He also said the Jets have not been turned down by any teams this season.
"It's usually just a function of whether there's a location that we can do it from or not," he said. "It's a pretty common courtesy."