Anderson Memo
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Worst Memo in History

Somehow, this 2006 memo has been referenced as a clarification of existing rules. Let's start with the memo itself - or the only quoted part in the media.


 "Video taping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game."


This memo appears to either:

a) prohibit videotaping from certain locations or

b) prohibit all videotaping

If NFL team video staff are included in "club staff members" then this memo seems to prohibit "video taping of any type" anywhere. And we know that isn't the case as each NFL team tapes (at least) its home games.

So what did this memo clarify? The NFL's Constitution & By-Laws don't appear to reference taping of signals and neither does the Manual of Operations. Media reports often say that this 2006 memo clarified "the rule", but don't say what rule it clarified or what was previously unclear about "the rule."

Was there more to this memo? Other topics?

What locations are not accessible to "club staff members"?

Goodell said in his Matt Walsh press conference, "The rule is taping of offensive or defensive signals." What rule? The Anderson Memo? Can't be -  as that memo prohibits "video taping of any type" not prohibiting taping hand gestures in and of itself. Of course, the media titans didn't ask about that.

How was the taping of the Chargers cheerleaders a different violation than taping coaches' hand gestures? And why would such a violation merit and "unprecidented" penalty? Those are just a few of the questions the media didn't answer for the public.

An interesting tidbit about the history of the memo was reported by Paul Schwartz in the New York Post. It implies that the memo was in reaction to a 2006 pre-season game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

According to Aiello, the Giants mentioned to Ray Anderson, the league's vice president of football operations, at the 2006 preseason game that they heard the Patriots were taping coaching signals. That's as far as the Giants got.

"No camera person was identified," Aiello said. "No tapes were seized. There was no formal complaint made by the Giants to the league office requesting an investigation or any other action.''

Now comes a common idea fed to the public.

As a result, though, the following week Anderson issued a memo to all NFL teams reminding them of the policy prohibiting the videotaping of coaching signals anywhere in the stadium, including on the sidelines.

Reminding? Where is the issue of taping coaches' signals mentioned other than this memo? It can't remind anyone about something never previously mentioned (coaches signals). 

You would be correct if it said "reminded of the policy on prohibiting videotaping on the sidelines."

The memo doesn't prohibit  "the videotaping of coaching signals anywhere in the stadium, including on the sidelines". It prohits all videotaping from the sidelines.

We have already seen how the NFL knew the Patriots were taping coaches signals (See No Spying). The Anderson Memo reminds teams about places they can't videotape from, not about what they can tape because they can't tape anything from those locations.