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NFLPA seeks exculpatory evidence in advance of bounty hearings

Scott Fujita AP

In My Cousin Vinny, Joe Pesci (a/k/a Vinny) eventually realizes that, in order to get a look at the prosecution’s files in the case against two youths who allegedly killed a store clerk in Alabama, all Vinny has to do is ask.

If only it were that easy in the NFLPA’s effort to defend the players who are accused of participating in the Saints’ bounty system.

Jim Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the union has asked the NFL to disclose in advance of Monday’s appeal hearings any evidence that points to the players’ innocence.  But the labor deal requires only that the league produce by Friday — three days before the hearing — any evidence that the league plans to use in support of its contention that the players are guilty.

The difference is significant.  With no obligation to produce so-called “exculpatory” evidence, the league could (in theory) conceal evidence that would suggest that the players didn’t do it, introducing (and thus disclosing) only the evidence that points to guilt.

While there’s no reason to believe the league is hiding exculpatory evidence, the point is that the rules allow the league to do so.  (Which, of course, raises a separate question:  Why don’t the rules require all evidence to be produced?)

Per Varney, the NFL’s evidence against former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, who now plays for the Browns, consists only of proof that he contributed “a significant amount of money” to the general fund from which, according to the league, a variety of payments were made — including alleged payments for hits that inflicted injuries on opponents.  General allegations of contributions to the overall pool also have been made against former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who now plays for the Packers.  For both players, there apparently is no evidence that they made payments or offered payments specifically for injuries.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Saints defensive end Will Smith are accused of helping to establish and fund the pool, and that Smith contributed significant amounts during the 2009 playoffs.  The league specifically contends that Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 playoffs.

On Friday, the NFLPA and the individual players will know more about the evidence that the NFL plans to use on Monday.  Hopefully, someone will see fit to ensure that the evidence makes its way into the hands of the media.

And before anyone claims that it’s none of the media’s business, the NFL has on multiple occasions made it the media’s business, using the media as the tool for communicating to the fans information that the league wanted to be disseminated.  The time has come for the media, and thus the fans, to know the full story.

Whatever it may be.

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41 Responses to “NFLPA seeks exculpatory evidence in advance of bounty hearings”
  1. FinFan68 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:08 PM

    Things you will never hear from an NFL player:
    “Yeah, that evidence is valid…”
    “I did it and I am sorry”
    “I deserve the punishment I got”
    “It is my fault and nobody else’s”

  2. zimaman says: Jun 14, 2012 10:13 PM

    2 Utes. …whats a ute?

  3. shzastl says: Jun 14, 2012 10:14 PM

    According to the NFL’s March memos, its documentary evidence came from the Saints emails. Thus, the NFLPA should be able to obtain any such ‘exculpatory’ evidence from the team.

  4. touchdownroddywhite says: Jun 14, 2012 10:15 PM

    Stick it to em! I can’t dpeak for everybody but I’d love to see some juocy details personally. And of course I’m biased and hope it’s as damaging ro the Saints reputation as possible!

  5. saintsfan26 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:17 PM

    NewsFlash: nobody contributed any money that was specifically designed to intentionally hurt any player. What the Saints had was a pay for performance system. The emails from Ornstein offering money were a joke, and the allegations against Vilma are false.

    Goodell needs to just admit that he made a mistake. Having a pool for performance is a totally different accusation than placing a “bounty” on an opponents head and intentionally trying to injure him. That is what the Saints were punished for, but that is NOT what happened! Show us the proof that we were intentionally trying to injure opponents!

    You labeled us as “bounty hunters” so now show us why we are “bounty hunters”. Dont show me no pay for performance crap because that is something that goes on all over the league.

  6. coltsluckdynasty says: Jun 14, 2012 10:17 PM

    Are you suggesting a conspiracy theory?? Is that what you are getting at? Let me ask you something florio…. Are you still beating your meat?? Hahaha just had to.!!! I know this will get the delete!! Funny though, admit it

  7. jwayne111 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:18 PM

    M.Florio wants an explan….evidence.

  8. jwayne111 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:21 PM

    Of course we will hear the NFLPA s version / interpretation of the evidence they receive.

  9. mancave001 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:22 PM

    Cue Saints fans whining about the lack of evidence.

  10. canadianvikingfaniii says: Jun 14, 2012 10:22 PM

    And yet they still signed the deal. It makes you wonder if any of the players read the deal that was put out on the table at all. With the whole, “Goodell has too much authority”, and now this which will probably be fought by the union.

  11. gadgetdawg says: Jun 14, 2012 10:24 PM

    I guess the big question is: Why did the Union agree to all these rules during negotiations for the CBA?

    I hope that if the players have such a problem with the discipline rules (the commish, evidence rules ect) they are considering who they hired to negotiate it all. If they feel (not just the media and union officials) that this is all wrong, is there a movement to replace all these people that screwed them on ‘their side’ of the table?

    I am really getting sick of all these ‘the poor players are getting screwed stories’ while never hearing anything about how the players are attempting to hold the folks that were supposedly ‘looking out for them’ responsible.

    Unless of course the media are inventing these story angles or the Union is to protect old De.

  12. bigwalt2990 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:24 PM

    “Why don’t the rules require all evidence to be produced?” You should have elaborated on that. It’s the only interesting part.

  13. jason1980 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:30 PM

    It’s time to “put up or shut up” Mr. Goddell. Give your slurpers something to hold on too, or this is gonna get real ugly, fast!

  14. canetic says: Jun 14, 2012 10:33 PM

    Perhaps the NFLPA would like to hire a real attorney instead of a mouthpiece for the next round of negotiations. This agreement has more holes than the Lions’ secondary.

  15. sasattack says: Jun 14, 2012 10:41 PM

    The lockout is over. If I wanted legalese, I’d subscribe to Lawyer Monthly.

  16. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 14, 2012 10:45 PM

    “Exculpatory evidence”? You may not think much of the quality of it, but there is no need to use profanity.

  17. jimbo75025 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:48 PM

    “Jim Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports…..”

    Hey Vern I have found the problem, Ernest P Worrell wrote this story.

  18. truthfactory says: Jun 14, 2012 10:52 PM

    saintsfan26 says:
    Jun 14, 2012 10:17 PM
    NewsFlash: nobody contributed any money that was specifically designed to intentionally hurt any player. What the Saints had was a pay for performance system. The emails from Ornstein offering money were a joke, and the allegations against Vilma are false.

    Goodell needs to just admit that he made a mistake. Having a pool for performance is a totally different accusation than placing a “bounty” on an opponents head and intentionally trying to injure him. That is what the Saints were punished for, but that is NOT what happened! Show us the proof that we were intentionally trying to injure opponents!

    You labeled us as “bounty hunters” so now show us why we are “bounty hunters”. Dont show me no pay for performance crap because that is something that goes on all over the league.
    ——————————–

    Just ignore the audio of Greg Williams directing his players to “Go for the ACL”, and “Attack the head… KILL THE HEAD”.

    Not to mention audio and video of Hargrove running off the field in the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Vikings shouting “Pay me my money!” when he thought that his hit had knocked Favre out of the game…

    Just ignore all these facts and the additional testimony the NFL obtained from interviews and from the original “source”. Just keep your head in the sand. I’m sure it’s easier for you to cope that way…

  19. dbones750 says: Jun 14, 2012 11:00 PM

    Wait, why is John Krasinski wearing a Browns uni?

  20. cwwgk says: Jun 14, 2012 11:18 PM

    The NFLPA elected its current leaders. Those leaders negotiated the current COLLECTIVE bargaining agreement. The current CBA governs the current disciplinary/ appeals process. The players don’t like these rules. Why aren’t the players questioning their NFLPA leaders why they agreed to those rules?

    Think this whole thing is one sided in favor of Goodell/the league? Ask DeMaurice Smith why he bound his players to such an “unfair” process.

  21. jessecusterl says: Jun 14, 2012 11:19 PM

    Speaking as a (relatively) level-headed Saints fan, I just want to see the evidence, whichever way it goes. At this point, some closure/finality to this whole mess would be nice. If they did do what the NFL accuses them of, fine. They (the players and coaches) can take the punishment and quit dragging this back into the limelight.

    The ledger didn’t really prove a whole hell of a lot (if anything, it muddied the waters) and so far, they’ve just expected people to take what they’ve said at face value and then seemed exasperated at the media and fan outcry at such a dismissive attitude.

  22. sloppydogg says: Jun 14, 2012 11:40 PM

    I am truly sick an tired of the pony show, i wish they just get this over with so we can move forward.

  23. senky3 says: Jun 14, 2012 11:41 PM

    saintsfan26, if you are so knowledgable about this whole deal, how about showing the rest of us the evidence that the email was a joke? i am sure that it is a conspiracy against the saints because everyone hates them. all you really haveto do is to give me your real name and when you were drafted and what position you play. you have to be a player judging by your comments. it is obvious that you were there during that time frame.

  24. tweeter75 says: Jun 14, 2012 11:42 PM

    Someday, hopefully soon, when all the evidence comes out, Vilma and Fujita’s name will be mud. Even more than they are now.

  25. mjkelly77 says: Jun 15, 2012 12:15 AM

    With no obligation to produce so-called “exculpatory” evidence, the league could (in theory) conceal evidence …
    ________________

    I see. So the league will only provide “inculpatory” evidence.

  26. mjkelly77 says: Jun 15, 2012 12:22 AM

    And before anyone claims that it’s none of the media’s business, the NFL has on multiple occasions made it the media’s business, using the media as the tool for communicating to the fans information that the league wanted to be disseminated.
    __________________

    And that works because the NFL knows what undisciplined wh ores the media are.

  27. ningenito78 says: Jun 15, 2012 12:30 AM

    Touchdownroddywhite- your spelling is very conducive to a Falcon fan.

  28. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 15, 2012 12:46 AM

    Fujita and Vilma. Sounds like the Polynesian version of the Flintstones.

  29. anarchopurplism says: Jun 15, 2012 12:50 AM

    Funny how a few years ago Nawlins fans were loving all the attention. Now they are a bunch of crybabies about how the country “be hatin” and suggesting nonsensical conspiracy theories.

    If Drew Brees had been targeted and received all the cheap-shots Favre endured…..then a story like this broke out about another team…..they’d be whining like crazy.

  30. bleedinggreenngold says: Jun 15, 2012 12:55 AM

    Guilty until proven innocent.

  31. harrisonhits2 says: Jun 15, 2012 1:03 AM

    “Dont show me no pay for performance crap because that is something that goes on all over the league.”

    A number of teams and coaches also admitted sideline taping but nobody give the Pats a break because it was a common practice. Why should the Saints be treated any differently ?

    The “everybody does it” defense is not acceptable.

  32. kodakinvegas says: Jun 15, 2012 1:11 AM

    Mike, you’re such an instigator. Too much attorney left in you.

  33. saintsfan26 says: Jun 15, 2012 2:17 AM

    Senky: i was not there but i guarantee you that i had a better chance of being there than a PRISONER WHO IS LOCKED UP. Now you explain to me why a prisoner would place a bounty on Rodgers or Newton. What would he get out of it? He isnt playing. He wont win any money from the pool. Not to mention the fact that he is a PRISONER. His bank accounts are frozen. He wrote the letter to the Saints team spokesman! P.s. put 5000 on Rodgers. Come on man open your damn eyes.

  34. silentcount says: Jun 15, 2012 2:30 AM

    It is rather odd, that there was no evidence on the field that players were being injured. Instead, it was Goodell’s claims that there was a conspiracy to injure. To make that accusation, and then force severe financial and reputation harm, there needs to be evidence provided. If in fact, there were only verbal jokes about pay for performance, then the punishment imposed is way out of line. With the right amount of exaggeration and fabrication, Goodell could have chosen almost any team to punish as an example.

  35. goodellgate says: Jun 15, 2012 5:20 AM

    ***Just ignore the audio of Greg Williams directing his players to “Go for the ACL”, and “Attack the head… KILL THE HEAD”.***

    Just ignore the fact that it was juste a stupid metaphorical speech, and that the Saints had zero penalty in the game, and that Frank Gore himself said that nobody tried to injure him.

    ***Not to mention audio and video of Hargrove running off the field in the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Vikings shouting “Pay me my money!” when he thought that his hit had knocked Favre out of the game…***

    Can you give us a link to that video ?? Oh wait, you don’t have one, you’ve not seen it, nobody does. Typical NFL* “evidence” I guess..

  36. eagleswin says: Jun 15, 2012 6:35 AM

    I agree with many previous posters in that there needs to be a few articles on how the NFLPA is failing it’s membership. All these articles on how the NFL needs to make things more fair for the players and how the NFL needs to do this or that for the players is so biased.

    I’m still waiting for the NFLPA to do “studies” on whether mouthguards/leg pads/concussion resistant helmets help prevent injuries. They are doing a bangup job in ignoring the HGH testing rule though.

    I honestly don’t believe the current system is really that bad because I don’t think it matters who hears the appeals and rulings. The NFLPA/media would tear them to shreds regardless. Plus the NFLPA has never abided by a decision by an independant arbitor that they’ve lost. Every decision that doesn’t go their way goes to the highest court in the land that they can get to hear it.

    Expect the NFLPA to try to go over Goodell’s head after the appeals. Just don’t convince yourself that if it wasn’t Goodell, they wouldn’t be doing it.

  37. robf2010 says: Jun 15, 2012 7:08 AM

    “Not to mention audio and video of Hargrove running off the field in the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Vikings shouting “Pay me my money!” when he thought that his hit had knocked Favre out of the game…”

    Lots of people are latching onto that. There’s a disconnect, though. Yes, Hargrove was heard saying that. It wasn’t Hargrove who delivered the hit, though. It was Remi Ayodele and Bobby McCray. Hargrove’s sound byte came from a different time in the game and was for a big play, not a “cart off”.

    If you’ve ever watched anything put together by NFL films and know enough about the game they’re featuring, you also know that the plays and sound bytes are not always or necessarily shown in chronological order. The narrator might be dramatizing what happened late in the game while the film is showing a play from the second quarter.

  38. xxwhodatxx says: Jun 15, 2012 8:37 AM

    mancave001 says:
    Jun 14, 2012 10:22 PM
    Cue Saints fans whining about the lack of evidence.

     —–

    Cue the “cue the” comments by mindless idiots.

  39. gingerkid2000 says: Jun 15, 2012 9:17 AM

    Seems the Saints do a lot of joking, kidding and use a lot of innuendo and figures of speech in everything from emails, to on field statements, to locker room bravado. Maybe they should change their name to the New Orleans Metaphors?

  40. raidafan7 says: Jun 15, 2012 10:53 AM

    How can the NFL lose this case? They only give the players the evidence they will use…. They make the hearing on Monday so the 3 day window includes the weekend…..Even if the players lawyers come up with valid points the one person in charge can say, “Because I said so, go to your room!”

  41. mhs8031 says: Jun 15, 2012 10:59 AM

    What people forget is this: The NFL is not a God-given and constitutionally-supported right. It is a corporation that is solely responsible for governing its players. Lawyers can muddy the waters if they want to, but unless the allegations are completely false, contrived, or erroneous in nature, the union has no legal position.

    The union should, in my opinion, stop trying to seek control over every decision the NFL makes. When I read that 80% of players who made millions in the NFL are now bankrupt, perhaps self-governance is not a good idea for the players. If I am Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, or even Cam Newton, I sue the union for not protectivng their best interests and life-long health. I sue them for supporting the players who participated in the bounty system more than me. Where is the outcry on the part of the union to SUPPORT these findings and let the league know that they support any effort to protect the majority of NFL players? The NFL does not owe the union evidence. The option for players who do not like Goodell’s decisions? Quit. Go work for a company run like a democracy–if you can find one.

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