[Editor's note: On Monday morning, NFL Coaches Association executive director David Cornwell issued a statement regarding recent developments in the bounty investigation. The full statement, which was published under the heading "The NFLPA's Strategy of Blaming Coaches in the Bounty Investigation is Misguided and Inappropriate," appears below.]
After destroying the best opportunity in the history of sports for NFL players to maximize the economic benefits of playing the game, NFLPA leadership has now turned its sights on destroying the bond between NFL players and NFL coaches. Its strategy in the bounty investigation has been to throw coaches under the bus to save the players involved.
As the NFLPA was suing NFL coaches and sponsoring the declaration of Anthony Hargrove, in which it encouraged a young man to admit to lying and then tell a new lie by claiming that his coaches made him do it, we now learn that DeMaurice Smith was scheming for the release of the Gregg Williams tape because he thought players would look better if he made Williams look worse. The NFLPA’s “my coach made me do it” defense is petty and irresponsible and is further evidence that union leadership is not up
to the task of leadership.
As was the case in March 2011 when Smith refused to review additional league financial disclosures because he thought ignorance gave the NFLPA the upper hand in its failing public relations strategy, the NFLPA’s “no evidence” defense in the bounty investigation has been exposed as nothing more than a directive from Smith that players not meet with the Commissioner and not look at records uncovered in the NFL’s investigation so that Smith’s strategy of blaming their coaches would have the illusion of merit.
In New Orleans, Coach Payton and Coach Vitt have taken responsibility and their colleagues across the league have made it clear that NFL coaches do not condone any playing technique or motivational tool that compromises the fundamental principles of fair play and sportsmanship. From Pop Warner to the NFL, accountability is the most important attribute in the bond between coaches and players, but the NFLPA’s defense in the bounty matter is nothing more than finger pointing, which is demeaning to players, offensive to coaches, and destroys the standard of accountability that is expected from a Pro.