New Jets coach Robert Saleh hired someone to his staff with ties to Spygate.
Steve Scarnecchia is Saleh’s chief of staff, a position where he will work closely with the new Jets head coach. A decade ago, people thought Scarnecchia may never work in the NFL again.
Scarnecchia was a central figure in Spygate II with the Broncos in 2010. He was fired by the team for filming a walkthrough practice of the 49ers a day before the two teams played in London. The NFL fined the Broncos $50,000 and coach Josh McDaniels $50,000 for the incident in which it was found Scarnecchia filmed six minutes of the San Francisco walkthrough. McDaniels was fired a week after Scarnecchia.
The NFL viewed Scarnecchia as a “repeat offender” because he was a member of the Patriots video department from 2001-04 and was implicated in the original Spygate scandal.
After his firing in Denver, Scarnecchia worked for Syracuse University first as video coordinator from 2011 until his promotion to director of operations in 2013.
At the time of his firing in Denver, it was thought that Scarnecchia might be banned for life by the NFL, but that did not occur. Instead he re-entered the league in 2015 with the Falcons.
Atlanta coach Dan Quinn hired Scarnecchia as assistant to the head coach. He has served in that capacity over the past six seasons. It is unclear exactly what Scarnecchia’s duties as chief of staff with the Jets will entail but they figure to be similar to what he did in Atlanta.
His duties in Atlanta were described in the team media guide as: “Scarnecchia is responsible for coordinating the Falcons meeting and practice schedules and football calendar, managing the football budget and orchestration of team and staff events as well as providing administrative assistants to the coaching and operations staff.”
The Jets have hired several coaches with ties to the Falcons, which probably played a role in Scarnecchia’s hiring here. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich spent the past six seasons with the Falcons. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was with Atlanta in 2015-16.
Scarnecchia is the son of longtime Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. This will be his second stint with the Jets. He worked under coach Eric Mangini from 2006-08 as Director of Multimedia and Production. Quinn worked as the Jets offensive line coach in 2007-08 and that connection may have been what landed Scarnecchia in Atlanta.
He was working for the Jets when the Spygate scandal exploded in 2007 and some believed he played a role in informing the Jets of the Patriots’ taping system. His name surfaced during the investigation into the Patriots. Matt Walsh, who worked for the Patriots from 1997-2003 and was a key witness in the Spygate investigation, told Sen. Arlen Spector that he witnessed Scarnecchia taping the opposing team’s signals in three games.
McDaniels, the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator, hired Scarnecchia in 2009 when he became the head coach of the Broncos. An NFL investigation found that Scarnecchia filmed six minutes of the 49ers walkthrough on Oct. 30, the day before the two teams met in London. The NFL concluded that Scarnecchia acted alone and was not directed to film the practice by anyone.
“As best we could conclude, (it was) a single action carried out by a single employee,” said NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash.
McDaniels and the Broncos were fined by the league for failing to report the incident in a timely manner.
A source who has worked with Scarnecchia described him as excellent at what he does and said he was always diligent.
While Saleh has not worked with Scarnecchia before, he knows Quinn very well from their time together with the Seahawks from 2011-13. It is likely that Saleh got Quinn’s input before making the hire.