One day short of three months since the NFL disclosed the alleged existence of a bounty system in New Orleans and nearly two months since the name “Sean Pamphilon” became attached to it, Pamphilon has posted at his website a lengthy, rambling diary regarding his decision to release against the wishes of former Saints special-teams ace Steve Gleason the audio of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ remarks before a January 2012 playoff game against the 49ers.
Though Pamphilon’s objective isn’t quite clear (unless he’s simply hoping to reset the 15-minute clock to 14:59), Pamphilon implicates former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita as a participant in the bounty culture that existed within the organization in 2009, Fujita’s final year with the team.
Pamphilon also claims that quarterback Drew Brees was involved in the communications regarding whether the audio would be released, and that Brees ultimately was opposed to it.
What follows is an effort to trim paragraphs of fat and get to the steak lurking in chunks within it.
And, like managing to devour each bite of a three-pound Porterhouse, I feel like there should be a prize of some sort for finishing all 10,000-plus words of Pamphilon’s post.
Keep in mind that the following summary comes only from Pamphilon’s allegations and/or recollections. Fujita, Brees, and Gleason have not yet responded to Pamphilon’s version of the events.
1. Despite being a member of the Browns, Fujita was present in the room for the Gregg Williams diatribe. The video that goes with the audio shows Fujita sitting next to Gleason, smiling when players chanted “give it back!” upon receiving envelopes of cash from the prior weekend’s win over the Lions.
2. After Williams spoke, Fujita said to Pamphilon, “I can’t believe I used to be that guy.”
3. In an interview for Pamphilon’s documentary, The United States of Football, Fujita talked about whether he allow his child to play the game: “If I had a son, f–k no I would never let him play football! And this is my journey my wife and I decided to take on. But I wouldn’t want that for one of my kids. No way in hell!”
4. On March 7, Fujita said that he was “appalled” by the things Williams had said. But Fujita did not believe at that point the audio should be released. Still, Fujita admitted to Pamphilon that Fujita was once “semi-complicit” in the mindset reflected by Williams’ words. Fujita believed that the issue was “an indictment on the culture of football, a big part of which is still archaic & has yet to evolve.”
5. Fujita said that he watched the video of Williams’ remarks with his wife, that she was “shocked” by what she heard, and that they both cried while watching it. “She said she felt sorry for me that I had been part of something for so long that made me desensitized to the suffering of another,” Fujita told Pamphilon. “Her second thought: People who say things like that to a group of impressionable men, shouldn’t be able to lead a group of impressionable men.”
6. As of mid-March, Fujita still believed that Pamphilon should not release the audio, because of the stress it was creating for Steve Gleason and his wife, Michel.
7. Eventually, the NFLPA learned of the audio. Fujita told Pamphilon that the union plans to make the NFL aware of the existence of the tape, apparently as part of the “rogue coach” defense. Pamphilon claimed that the NFL would be able to connect the dots back to him, which caused him to have “personal safety concerns,” if the tape were not publicly released.
8. Pamphilon received a text message from Brees, who “wanted to reassure” Pamphilon. Brees also asked, “How are you feeling?”
9. As of a week later, Pamphilon had again decided to drop the issue. On April 2, Fujita “re-engage[d]” Pamphilon, inquiring as to his “vision” for the release of the tape. He later tells Pamphilon via text, “I’m convinced the league doesn’t really have sh-t on anybody.”
10. On April 3, NFLPA lawyer Heather McPhee suggested via Fujita that, while the union wouldn’t tell Pamphilon to release the tape, if he were still considering doing so, he “might want to do it ‘the sooner the better.’” At that point, Pamphilon called Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, laying the foundation for releasing the Gregg Williams audio.
11. Fujita told Pamphilon that Brees agrees the audio should be released the “sooner the better.” Fujita continued to offer words of support and encouragement.
12. On the evening of April 3, Brees called Pamphilon. Instead of saying “the sooner the better,” Brees says we need to “wait for the right time” to release the audio. Pamphilon says it’s too late to stop the process.
13. The next day, Brees left Pamphilon a voice message, asking for a copy of the essay Pamphilon planned to post on his website when the audio was released. Pamphilon ultimately refused, and Gleason then told Pamphilon that what he planned to do is “illegal” and that Gleason wa not giving permission for the audio to be released.
14. On April 14, Fujita recommendeds that Pamphilon not cooperate with the league. “I would ignore the NFL if I were you,” Fujita said via text message. “They clearly want the tapes to see if there’s anything they can use to further implicate players, mainly because they don’t have sh-t, other than heresay [sic] and anecdotal evidence of tough talk. I’ve been denying their request for an interview for weeks now because there’s nothing good that can come out of that. That’s why it’ll be hilarious when I show up at their offices on Monday with the rest of the Executive Committee to discuss other issues. No more NFL talk. F–k them.”
15. On May 17, Pamphilon went to the league office and played a portion of the video of Williams’ comments for NFL Security. Pamphilon also allowed NFL Security to listen to the audiotapes. In return, he asked the NFL to stop disseminating “incorrect information about me to anymore lapdog league journalists.”
16. Pamphilon describes “the final straw” as Fujita’s comments to the media on May 23. He points to Fujita’s assertion that the Williams audio “wasn’t evidence of anything, other than a coach saying some inappropriate things.” Says Pamphilon: “When he said that the tape wasn’t evidence of anything, I that felt like he stuck his football helmet up my ass and through my ribcage. It hurt that much. If this was true, then why did we spend so much time and energy on this issue? Why did it resonate so strongly with our culture, including those who don’t cheer for the home team on Sunday’s? This was the first time he had spoken on-camera since the Bounty Gate scandal broke. It was two and a half months since he and his wife were crying in bed and lamenting the fact that he had been ‘semi-complicit’ in a football culture that ‘desensitized’ him to the suffering of another.”
Of those 10,000-plus words, nine are particularly damning for Fujita: “I can’t believe I used to be that guy.”
Fujita could deny that he said the words, and that he said or did anything else that would represent an admission of past involvement in a bounty program. But it’s safe to say that Pamphilon will soon be asked to testify at the eventual appeal hearings.
From the players’ perspective, that could be the best strategy. Given Pamphilon’s inability to be concise, his testimony could last long enough to allow each of them to finish their NFL careers before the hearings end.