The NFL Commissioner made his ruling last night and found the Patriots guilty of breaking league rules in the camera incident against the Jets on opening day. He fined the Patriots $250,000 and Bill Belichick personally $500,000 and took away a draft pick from the Patriots. If they make the playoffs, it will be a first round pick (though they still keep the 49ers first rounder) and if they miss the playoffs a second and third round pick will be taken away. No suspension was handed down (to the chagrin of many) and commissioner Roger Goodell also determined that the filming had no impact on the outcome of the game on Sunday. So the Patriots still kicked the Jets around without the extra help.

Mike Reiss and John Tomase lay out the sanctions imposed by the league, which were stiff, but still not as harsh as many were rooting for. We’ve heard media members suggest suspensions, forfeiting the Jets game, banning the Patriots from the postseason, and even doing something with the Patriots previous Super Bowl victories. Kerry J. Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts likens this offense to pigskin jay-walking. Shaise Manza Young also looks at the punishment. David Heuschkel says that the punishment was a signal to both Belichick and the league. Albert Breer notes that while there was no suspension, the NFL isn’t going light on the Patriots.

Karen Guregian says that Belichick’s legacy will be tarnished by this episode, and Dan Shaughnessy, bless his heart, writes exactly what you would expect about this “sad chapter in the long history of New England sports.” Red Sox reference in second paragraph? Check. “The arrogant New England organization?” Check. “Amos Alonzo” Kraft? Check. Steroid comparison? Check. Watergate/Nixon? Check. The sad part is that Dan is perfectly within his rights to use all of them today. Art Martone says that a big risk was taken here for such a small gain.

Michael Levenson profiles cameraman Matthew Estrella, who finds himself at the center of this storm. Tom Mooney gets the nuns take on this scandal. Christopher L. Gasper says that this incident could push the league to adopt the practice of sending in the defensive signals the same way that the offensive signals are relayed, via a headset – which is exactly what the competition committee has wanted. Dan Pires has more on the Patriots paying the price.

There’s a new Friday Roundtable posted at Patriots Daily, and you have the opportunity to add your two cents as well.

Karen Guregian says that this controversy could fire up the New England players. Robert Lee has the Patriots players keeping their focus on the Chargers.Michael Felger expects the Chargers to play physical against Randy Moss on Sunday night. Eric McHugh has Stephen Gostkowski adjusting to the revolving door of holders. Jeff Howe has the Patriots new receivers getting up to speed with Tom Brady. Mark Farinella has Junior Seau and the Patriots focusing on the Chargers, not the scandal. Christopher Price also looks at the Chargers coming to town.

Bob Hohler says that the Chargers are still haunted by the loss last January to the Patriots and are looking to avenge themselves. Guregian has Rosevelt Colvin advising the Chargers to get over the playoff loss. Jennifer Toland has Shawne Merriman shutting down his “lights out” sack dance. Guregian also looks at whether the Patriots can do to LaDainian Tomlinson what the Bears did last week.

Guregian’s notebook has Richard Seymour laughing off reports about the severity of his knee injury. Lee’s notebook also looks at the scandal boosting the case for defensive headsets. Toland’s notebook also looks at the headset issue.

Jim Lazar and Jim McCabe have their weekend NFL picks. Double D and I.M. Bettor check the action.

Red Sox
The Yankees are in town for a crucial weekend series with the Red Sox, and you wouldn’t even know it based on what this week has been like.

Tony Massarotti says that Boston is the hub of the sports universe this weekend. Gordon Edes has the Red Sox still holding onto the lead despite the Yankees best ever second half record under Joe Torre. Joe McDonald has the Red Sox bringing some youngsters to the mix to add some freshness to the rivalry. Lenny Megliola previews the weekend series. Bill Ballou has the Sox hoping for a repeat of 1988. Jon Couture says that this might be the final series of the year between these clubs, but there is no sense of finality about it.

Rob Bradford looks at whether Daisuke Matsuzaka can right the ship in time for tonight’s start. Jeff Goldberg says that there is a lot at stake for Dice-K and the Sox tonight. Alex Speier wonders what will happen with Joba Chamberlain this weekend.

Bradford’s notebook says that Fenway is likely to be a hostile place for Joba Chamberlain. Edes’s notebook has Roger Clemens set to go on Sunday night.

Bill Doyle has Gerry Callahan glad to be back on the air. Susan Bickelhaupt has John Madden fired about how the cheating scandal is taking away from a great game on Sunday night.