A new report adds more confusion to the Patriots' latest offseason drama

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge (left) looks on
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge (left) looks on / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Since it was reported that the Patriots would be losing two OTA sessions due to a violation of the rules, a lot has been made about what led to the offense, who was responsible, and how the league learned about it.

Clarity on the original report was released the next day, which revealed the reason for the docking of practices was due to special teams players being kept at the facility longer than the allotted time of four hours per day. That led to Joe Judge being at the center of the controversy, as he has been back working with the unit since the end of last season.

So with all that straightened out and put away, there wasn't much left to discuss, right?


Then came speculation about how the league was made aware of said meetings and players being held longer to attend them.

The immediate assumption was that a player or players were unhappy with what was going on and took it upon themselves to report the wrongdoing to the NFLPA. It's a fair assumption, given the context of the situation. However, there hasn't been any evidence provided to support this theory.

In all fairness, though, it's not something we would likely ever have cleared up. It's not unreasonable for a player to take issue with being asked to work longer than the agreed-upon hours and report that to the higher-ups. It's also not unreasonable for anyone in the know not to disclose who went to the league with the issue.

With all the recent discussion regarding the issue, NFL reporter Mike Giardi took to Twitter in an attempt to provide clarity on the entire situation. He confirmed most of what has been said in the media in recent days but also noted that he could not verify if a player had anything to do with reporting the meetings to the NFLPA.

We also heard from ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio, who shared what his sources told him about the ordeal. His report went against the rumored "tattling" Patriot theory and claimed an NFLPA representative witnessed the violations themselves.

"Per a source with knowledge of the situation, it was a meeting violation. According to the source, an observer from the NFL Players Association believed that one of the optional early offseason meetings was a violation because the 15-minute meeting in question (a special-teams session) was made visible on the internal schedule. In the opinion of the NFLPA, placing the meeting on the formal schedule converted it from “optional” to “mandatory.”

It is reportedly protocol for a representative to periodically be present during off-season team activities for all teams around the league, making the assumption of a player complaining about the meetings seem far-fetched.

But at this point, we don't really know and likely won't ever know. And at the end of the day, does it really matter? This isn't an egregious violation of the rules by any means, nor did it give the Patriots an unfair advantage worthy of throwing more mud on their name.

A mistake was made, knowingly or not, and now the team has to deal with the repercussions, which hopefully won't be a big deal in the long run.