When the NFL initially pulled the sheet off the Saints’ bounty scandal on March 2, the allegations seemed highly credible because it wasn’t in the league’s interests to wallow in the fact that one of its teams had cheated during a playoff run that culminated in a Super Bowl win.
But as the process has unfolded, especially as it relates to the players, there has been too much of a “take our word for it” quality to the NFL’s comments and representations regarding the evidence that supposedly supports the conclusion that money was contributed and/or received by players for inflicting injuries on opponents.
We’ll have more to say on this subject over the weekend. For now, the point is that the use of an outside lawyer to provide an “independent” review of the evidence doesn’t reflect the kind of “independent” look at the evidence that is needed. The NFL, stubbornly resistant to the notion of a second set of eyes scrutinizing the decisions of Commissioner Roger Goodell, is now trying to persuade the media and, in turn, the public, that former prosecutor Mary Jo White served as a genuine second set of eyes.
Though none of this means that there is, or isn’t, enough evidence to justify the suspensions imposed on four players earlier this week, an effort to substitute proof with someone vouching for the proof is the kind of thing that raises natural and reasonable suspicions about the true quality of the proof.
So why not just give us all the proof?
For more on the “independent” counsel dynamic, here’s a slice of Friday’s PFT Live.