At some point in my life, if I continue to cover the NFL, I probably will be able to truthfully say that I have seen everything. I’m not there yet, but the eventual list of unusual twists and turns will consist of the time Jabari Greer responded to allegations of a bounty system during his three years with the Saints by writing a poem.
It appears in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. While it’s not particularly horrible it’s also not particularly informative. The only new ground is plowed in his non-poetic p.s., which concedes that “some of the allegations brought before us are true.”
It’s more than “some,” given that the NFL already has concluded that players were enticed to inflict injury (or, at a minimum to knock opponents out of games). And that not a supposition or an inference or a mere preponderance of the evidence. The NFL came to that conclusion because former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams confessed.
A full 15 days after the bounty system was exposed by the league, some of the men closest to it dare to suggest that the media is exaggerating the plain facts of the case. Please, go back and read the league’s release. The media is merely reacting to what the NFL itself concluded, thanks in part to the fact that the people responsible for the situation finally (and reluctantly) admitted it.
“During the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons, the players and other participants involved used their own money to fund a ‘Pay for Performance’ program,” the league announced on March 2. “Players earned cash awards for plays such as interceptions or fumble recoveries. They also earned ‘bounty’ payments for ‘cart-offs’ and ‘knockouts.’ All such payments violate league rules for non-contract bonuses.”
And yet members of the organization are trying to persuade fans to believe that, by calling it exactly what the NFL called it, the media is in some way overstating the situation.
“I think the perception might be different from the reality in certain cases with this thing,” quarterback Drew Brees recently told FOX Sports Radio, “because it sure has been painted that we’re all guilty and we’ve all been doing these heinous things.”
First of all, no one has suggested that offensive players were receiving bounties. At worst, people believe that members of the offense knew or should have known the situation. Drew’s use of the lawyer-fingerprinted phrase “real existence” served only to reinforce that perception, with nearly 80 percent of more than 15,000 of you believing that Brees was aware of the bounty program.
So, Jabari, it’s more than “some” of the allegations being true. The allegations are so true that they’re no longer allegations. The league concluded that the bounty system was in place based on the admissions of those who ran it. The sooner the Saints players accept that reality, the sooner every team can move forward without these kinds of shenanigans tainting future Super Bowl victories.