Broncos official on leave amid probe

Updated: November 28, 2010, 7:16 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

In a case reminiscent of the New England Patriots' Spygate scandal of 2007-08, the Denver Broncos have fallen under the microscope of the NFL for possible impermissible videotaping of an opponent, The Denver Post has reported.

Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis confirmed to the newspaper Friday that the league was reviewing the team's possible filming of the San Francisco 49ers from before their London game of Week 8. Team sources told the paper that the Broncos were actively working with the league in regard to the investigation.

The team's video operations director, Steve Scarnecchia, is on a "personal leave of absence" while the NFL's investigation takes place, Ellis told The Post. He declined to address the matter further. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment when reached by The Post.

The Broncos lost the London game 24-16. The investigation is focused on walk-through practice sessions held the day before at Wembley Stadium, according to the report.

Scarnecchia, who also declined comment, worked for the Patriots from 2001 until 2004 but was working for the Jets in 2008 when commissioner Roger Goodell docked New England's first-round draft pick for that year and fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000 for a violation of NFL rules that bar teams from filming opponents' signals. The Patriots, who were found to have videotaped New York Jets coaches during a 2006 game, were fined an additional $250,000.

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels was the Patriots' offensive coordinator in 2008, having been promoted from quarterbacks coach in 2006 to make him the youngest coordinator in the league at the time.

McDaniels said at his introduction as Broncos coach that the videotaping scandal "didn't really affect" the team.

"That situation was something that happened," McDaniels said at a January 2009 news conference. "I was not aware of that. I wasn't aware of it and all the things that did happen in terms of that whole scenario. It really didn't affect us, to tell you the truth. It was all about preparation and trying to do whatever we felt was best that week. It really didn't have anything to do with that.

"I don't think it is good. To have that kind of attention was a distraction, and I think that is how we all treated it. We tried to do the best we could to limit those distractions every week, and it will be no different here. Certainly we are never looking to do anything that is not within the rules established by the National Football League. They determined the punishment on that, and it was what it was and we moved on."