NEW YORK—The hundreds of hours of game and practice scouting videotapes that league officials seized from the New England Patriots also include over 100 hours of painstakingly thorough footage of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the shower, sources within the NFL competition committee confirmed Tuesday.
"We are still investigating whether the assembled shower footage of Brady soaped up and wreathed in steam—which I can personally confirm was in fact taken in the showers of several different NFL-affiliated facilities around the league, and appears to have been shot by head coach Belichick himself—constitutes a violation of league laws or policies," league spokesman Greg Aiello told reporters during a press conference held at the league's Manhattan offices. "It is the opinion of the commissioner and the league that further extensive study is required before any judgment can be rendered in this matter."
"Our investigation continues to focus on any instances of cheating by the New England Patriots, and will continue to focus on cheating no matter how much Brady showering footage we find," Aiello added.
Aiello then displayed a 25-minute composite videotape consisting of representative segments and "highlights" of Brady in the shower.
Analysts agree that the bulk of the shower footage, while certainly unusual in many aspects, seems to have been shot with Brady's full knowledge and cooperation, although Brady does not appear especially enthusiastic. Early footage is also said to include showering quarterback Drew Bledsoe, then the Patriots starting quarterback, and at least 25 minutes of the earliest-known material was evidently shot in the showers at the University of Michigan as Brady was being scouted for the draft.
"Belichick has always been a big believer in spending as much time as possible on film study," said Boston Globe football writer Bill Ryan, who as a regular Patriots reporter was given the opportunity to view outtakes from several of the Brady shower tapes, notably those labeled "Super Bowl XXXVI," "Camp 2002/Skeleton Drills," and "Tuck Rule" before being thoroughly questioned by league officials. "But I didn't know he'd shot so much of it himself. His intensity about it can be kind of frightening."
"To hear Belichick narrating the whole thing, pointing out his quarterback's tendencies, identifying Brady's strong points and the areas where he needs work, hearing his voice as a counterpoint to the sound of the hot running water and seeing that familiar sweatshirt-clad arm cut through the mist to hand Brady his towels—you realize the man has a unique football mind," said Sports Illustrated football correspondent Paul Zimmerman. "If nothing else, the attention to every significant detail definitely makes an impression on the viewer."
Although officials have not divulged whether other Patriots players or even quarterbacks from other teams were featured in their own showering videotapes, Aiello confirmed that the investigation was by no means complete and the total inventory may take weeks to assemble.
"We confiscated thousands of these tapes from the Patriots coaching staff," Aiello told reporters, "and hundreds more tapes showing nothing but opposing teams sending in offensive and defensive signals. It may be some time before we have a complete catalog of what's on them. I can confirm, however, that we will be questioning Mr. Brady at length about his experiences regarding showering and video cameras, and communicating daily with Coach Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft concerning any and all videotaped footage of NFL players, specifically Tom Brady, in the shower. You have my word on that."
Neither Belichick nor Brady would comment on the investigation. The New England Patriots organization did not respond to requests for information, but released a statement Wednesday morning confirming that the league had compensated the team and coach for $750,000 in exchange for the videotapes in question.