In an echo of the New England Patriots' "Spygate" scandal, the NFL is investigating whether a Denver Broncos employee videotaped a San Francisco 49ers walk-through at London's Wembley Stadium four weeks ago.
Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis confirmed Friday that Steve Scarnecchia, the team's director of video operations, is on a "personal leave of absence" while team and league officials investigate the matter, but he declined to comment further. Scarnecchia did not travel with the team to San Diego last weekend and has not been at the team's Dove Valley complex this week.
The Broncos are actively working with the NFL on the investigation, according to team sources. Reached at his home Friday, Scarnecchia declined to comment. League spokesman Greg Aiello also declined to comment. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels could not reached for comment Friday afternoon.
McDaniels and Scarnecchia both previously worked for the Patriots, Scarnecchia between 2001 and 2005 and McDaniels between 2001 and 2009 before being hired by the Broncos. In 2007, the Patriots were found to have videotaped New York Jets coaches sending in signals during a game between the two teams, which is against league rules.
Following a league investigation, commissioner Roger Goodell stripped the Patriots of their first-round pick in the 2008 draft. He also fined the Patriots $250,000 and fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000.
McDaniels hired Scarnecchia to run the Broncos' video operations shortly after he accepted the job in January 2009.