The NFL apparently has heard the concerns regarding the spoon-feeding of summaries, characterizations, and conclusions regarding the Saints bounty scandal to the media, in the hopes that the media will then spoon-feed without scrutiny that same information to the public.
Sorry, NFL, but I can’t and won’t do it.
As I’ve said a time or two, if the NFL is going to make this matter to public by accusing players of funding and receiving funds from a bounty system, I need raw evidence — especially when there seems to be a disconnect between the raw evidence that has become available and the summaries, characterizations, and conclusions the NFL has disseminated.
That may change. Sort of.
Judy Battista of the New York Times reports that, after the player appeals have concluded, the league may publicly release some evidence, “with sources carefully masked.” The league continues to be concerned that, if some sources are identified, players will be able to figure out who blew the whistle in 2011.
That’s a cop out. Once the whistle has been blown and people start talking to the league not secretly but in response to direct questions from the league office, the importance of protecting the perceived “snitch” evaporates. Assuming former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has confessed to maintaining and funding a bounty system, he surely has told the NFL which players helped him set it up. So why not release one of his statements or interviews? He’s not the whistleblower, and he deserves no such protection.
The same goes for Joe Vitt and Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis and any other person who gave information not because they wanted to but because they had to.
Still, the league seems to be blurring the line between whistleblower and witness in order to justify giving those in the media inclined to not take what the league feeds us at face value something that can’t be properly and fully picked apart and put back together.
In the end, none of it may matter. At some point, the NFLPA and/or the lawyers representing the suspended players will likely land in a forum that forces the NFL to release raw data and, no matter how hard the NFL tries to keep the information confidential, it eventually will be released in open court — after a judge explains to the NFL’s lawyers that only the person who actually blew the whistle is entitled to any type of protection.
Even then, a case can be made that the person who blew the whistle isn’t entitled to full and complete anonymity, especially if that person had evidence that no other witness could provide.
Once again, we’re not a third-world country where witnesses testify behind a curtain. At some point, every witness/whistleblower may need to be identified, and if retaliation occurs the persons who retaliate will be held accountable.
If that ever happens, hopefully the raw evidence to prove retaliation will be made available in that case, too.