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It would be easy for NFL to prove player involvement in bounties, if proof exists

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

If the NFL has “smoking gun” evidence to prove that four suspended players participated in a bounty program with the Saints, the NFL has opted not to use it in Monday’s appeal hearings, because the NFL has not produced it three days in advance of the hearings, as required by the labor deal.

Instead, the league produced on Friday fewer than 200 pages of information, none of which reportedly show that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita paid or offered to pay money for the infliction of injury on an opponent, or received money for doing so.

So what should the NFL be doing to prove involvement in a bounty system, if such evidence exists?  It would be fairly simple, and it could be accomplished quickly at Monday’s hearings.

First, the league should call former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to testify about the specific involvement of any players in establishing, maintaining, funding, and/or receiving money from a bounty program.

Second, the league should call to testify anyone who heard Vilma offer $10,000 to anyone who knocked Brett Favre or Kurt Warner out of 2009 playoff games.

Third, the league should introduce as exhibits statements obtained from anyone/everyone who corroborated the existence of a bounty program, and/or the specific involvement of the suspended players.

Fourth, the league should introduce proof, via testimony from the Saints’ coaches, that money was indeed paid to players who inflicted injury on opponents.  (If that never happened, how could the pay-for-performance program ever have become a bounty program?)

If the NFL has such evidence, the NFL apparently doesn’t plan to use it on Monday.  The league’s intention to proceed without that evidence continues to highlight the biggest question presented by the bounty cases:  Does any evidence of player involvement actually exist?

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33 Responses to “It would be easy for NFL to prove player involvement in bounties, if proof exists”
  1. touchdownroddywhite says: Jun 17, 2012 12:03 AM

    The NFL is growing the pie, one dramatic story line after the next. Vince McMahon was a decade early because the NFL surely seems to be merging with WWE entertainment practices these days…

  2. letmesetyoustraight says: Jun 17, 2012 12:05 AM

    Evidence? Evidence? We don’t need no stinkin’ evidence!

    Sincerely,

    Roger Goodell

  3. mjkelly77 says: Jun 17, 2012 12:06 AM

    It would be easy for NFL to prove player involvement in bounties, if proof exists
    ______________

    Gee … and here I thought that the NFL did not have to prove anything. I guess I misunderstood what the CBA has mandated.

  4. fulanekiffin says: Jun 17, 2012 12:09 AM

    Great read. You would think that if they did have hard evidence they would quit dicking around and just put out there to out any speculation at rest. Otherwise you look like all you have you don’t really have any concrete evidence at all.

  5. silentcount says: Jun 17, 2012 12:23 AM

    The bottom line: Goodell publicly accused the Saints of “Intentionally trying to injure players for money”. He used that tactic to get the public riled up to support him. Then, it was more about a pay for performance system. Sean Payton told Goodell, “Actually Roger, it was really nothing more than verbal jokes among the guys.” Turns out he was right. Goodell was wrong and Vilma didn’t do what he was accused of. Therefore, Sean didn’t deserve his suspension either. If Goodell was fair, he’d admit his mistakes and lift his suspensions on everyone except Greg Williams. If not, a court may force him to.

  6. packhawk04 says: Jun 17, 2012 12:27 AM

    Youd think gregg williams, sean payton, and the saints organization owning up to it would put this to rest, but i guess not.

  7. whodatgirl1 says: Jun 17, 2012 12:28 AM

    The NFL isn’t planning on having any witnesses as the list of witnesses must be given to the players beforehand jsut as the evidence was given.

    This all sounds like a formality that they are doing just because according to the CBA they have to have an appeal.

    What’s the point of beating around the bush? If the Saints had a bounty program than they add one and I will accept it. What I will not accept is the NFL using a parents reason for disciplining their child “because I said so.”

    If the NFL is trying so hard “to follow the CBA accordingly” then why aren’t they doing so?

  8. mdd913 says: Jun 17, 2012 12:34 AM

    If there’s anything that’s truly scary about this whole thing, it’s how dumb and easily misled the public are when it comes to believing our leaders.

    I have to commend Mike Florio for bringing back watchdog journalism in a big way.

  9. fooath says: Jun 17, 2012 12:39 AM

    Fair? It’s pretty clear what the Saints did. Hopefully they can’t wiggle their way out of this with a bunch of nonsense lawyer talk…

    “Hard Evidence” What do they need? Written confessions by all parties involved? Video of Vilma declaring he’d pay 10,000 for the murder of an opposing player? Give me a break…this isn’t a court of law, thank god. Maybe they’ll actually be held accountable.

  10. nyfootballgiants says: Jun 17, 2012 1:21 AM

    You are thinking too much like a defense attorney here.

    Couple of things to note:

    1. According to the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell is the judge and jury. He also oversees the appeals.

    2. There is pending litigation against Goodell and the NFL on this. There is no reason to show their hand at this point.

    3. Don’t you think the tapes that have been released have demonstrated enough “evidence” by themselves for the commissioner to act?

    4. The Collective Bargaining agreement does not require the league to provide more information then they already have.

    5. These players have all previously been given the ability to participate in this process, and have turned it down.

    Bottom line – like it or not, this is the system the players agreed to when they ratified this collective bargaining agreement. They now have to live with their decision.

  11. purplescar says: Jun 17, 2012 1:30 AM

    Chickens!

  12. pettytom says: Jun 17, 2012 1:46 AM

    The one time I actually agree with Florio. If Goodell had hard evidence to prove that these players did in fact put up money for a “bounty program” the evidence would be blasted all over ESPN and the NFL Network as breaking news, just like it was when this alleged “bounty ledger” came out a couple of weeks ago. The fact that the league has not come out with concrete evidence is making it look more and more like this situation was blown out of porpotion just to look good in advacne of these lawsuits. To all those people out there that says this is not a court of law its a business think of it like this. If your boss came in on Monday and says, “Oh by the way I have to go ahead and suspend you without pay from your job” would you just go home and sit there? I highly doubt it! You would also want evidence for the reason why you are being suspended. So don’t be a hypocrite when talking about these players because you know you would do the same for your job. Oh and before forget Go Texans!

  13. t3dstrik3r says: Jun 17, 2012 2:33 AM

    Florio says-
    Fourth, the league should introduce proof…that money was indeed paid to players who inflicted injury on opponents. (If that never happened, how could the pay-for-performance program ever have become a bounty program?)
    ———
    Not sure that’s a fair conclusion. A bounty program could have existed, (i.e., a standing offer of money for a certain injury caused) without a player having actually successfully “cashed in.”

    That’s like saying a contract doesn’t exist unless/until there has been complete performance. There could have been a reward-for-injury system in place; just that no player had yet met whatever requirements there were to collect the bounty.

  14. brenenostler says: Jun 17, 2012 3:09 AM

    Just because there isn’t evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It would actually be dang hard to get evidence because I don’t think players are stupid enough to document the illegal things they do in the NFL. Gregg Williams and Sean Payton never denied the bounty system.

  15. goodellgate says: Jun 17, 2012 3:46 AM

    In before “but but the coachs admited it..”

    Signed : your typical PFT comments section idiot.

  16. fan73 says: Jun 17, 2012 3:50 AM

    its no secret that all teams do this, goodell is tryina make an example out of the saints….but if he cant show some evidence then these players should not be suspended and its becoming obvious that he has no real evidence

  17. steelersmichele says: Jun 17, 2012 4:40 AM

    Silentcount, were you one of the posters who wanted Roethlisberger suspended? I’m sure you were after you read the report where Ben came across as a total skeeze. the DA said he didnt think there was enough evidence to get a conviction, so there was no arrest, no charges, and no guilty verdict, yet Ben was suspended by goodell. Goodell made his decision based on facts and public opinion–not the law.

    Most people here, including me, supported that suspension and goodells ability to ignore the legal system. Why should the saints case be any different? On one hand people wanted him to ignore the law, but now you want him to follow it? You can’t have it both ways and neither can the players. And in case you forgot, they voted for things to be this way.

  18. lgw91s says: Jun 17, 2012 6:09 AM

    The first suggestion was my favorite. Call Gregg Williams to testify. Its not like the NFL did anything to damage his reputation or career. ‘Sure Rog. Love to help you out. Public testimony that can only cause further embarrassment and possibly exposure to potential lawsuits. No problem. And lunch is on me.’

  19. stellarperformance says: Jun 17, 2012 6:24 AM

    You honestly think they DON’T have evidence? The NFL WANTS this kind of attention? Where there is smoke there is fire. It’s not like these guys robbed a 7-11 and now they are demanding to see the surveillance tape…(because they THOUGHT nobody saw them.)

    This is an NFL matter, not criminal justice. The players are lucky they aren’t being charged with criminal-intent. Shut up and take the medicine. The only proof the players would accept is hidden audio and video tape. Then they’d say, “Oh, I didn’t know you had that. OK….I guess I did do it. Sorry.”

    They’re trying to get off of something they know they did. Man up.

  20. qdog112 says: Jun 17, 2012 6:30 AM

    That sound is the clock ticking on th tenure of one, Roger Goodell. I have predicted before, that there is noway he survives this laundry list of issues. (many of the wounds are self-inflicted) 2012 is his last year. I think we could Appropriately said that the NFL has a concussion.

    Maybe he burned the evidence….

  21. goodellgate says: Jun 17, 2012 7:13 AM

    t3dstrik3r says:
    Jun 17, 2012 2:33 AM

    Not sure that’s a fair conclusion. A bounty program could have existed, (i.e., a standing offer of money for a certain injury caused) without a player having actually successfully “cashed in.”

    So you’re saying that Saints defenders were trying to injure people during three years but NFL doesn’t heve evidence because they never succeed to injure anyone ?? Come on, even The Shanle is not that slow..

  22. olcap says: Jun 17, 2012 8:00 AM

    The results of Freeh’s investigation should be a real shocker. I say should be, but that isn’t necessarily what’s going to happen. It has the potential to really rock the entire football world.

  23. musicman495 says: Jun 17, 2012 8:00 AM

    fooath says: Jun 17, 2012 12:39 AM

    Fair? It’s pretty clear what the Saints did.
    —————————————-
    And you base that on what exactly?

    How about you lose YOUR ability to make a living for a year just because someone says “it’s pretty clear” you did something wrong, without having to show you any evidence of it?

  24. palinforpresidentofnorthkorea says: Jun 17, 2012 8:10 AM

    An NFLPA must read for this summer: The 2012 CBA

  25. musicman495 says: Jun 17, 2012 8:20 AM

    steelersmichele says: Jun 17, 2012 4:40 AM

    Silentcount, were you one of the posters who wanted Roethlisberger suspended? I’m sure you were after you read the report where Ben came across as a total skeeze. the DA said he didnt think there was enough evidence to get a conviction, so there was no arrest, no charges, and no guilty verdict, yet Ben was suspended by goodell. Goodell made his decision based on facts and public opinion–not the law.
    ————————————-
    According to ESPN, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger based in part on facts that were contained in statements by NAMED witnesses that “were among hundreds of pages of the case file made public last week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.” Many of those facts were not in dispute by Roethlisberger.

    Goodell says he has 50,000 pages of evidence, but not 1 page showing evidence of a “bounty system” has been made public, and not 1 page showing evidence of a “bounty system” has been shown to the NFLPA, the accused players, or their attorneys. And the players are disputing the facts as presented by the NFL – especially Jonathan Vilma, who has categorically denied them.

    There really is no comparison.

  26. saintsfan26 says: Jun 17, 2012 8:48 AM

    I feel like i am repeating myself over and over, but it just doesnt sink into some people’s thick skulls.

    Nobody ever admitted to a “bounty” program. They admitted to a pay for performance program.

  27. dretwann says: Jun 17, 2012 9:29 AM

    Nygiants, I should expect that kind of pro-NFL talk from a Giant fan given the actions of that teams owner this off season. Nonetheless, you miss an important point Florio is making: The NFL could make this whole thing disappear (appeals and court cases) if they provided the evidence supporting their actions. You are right, they don’t have to, but by not doing so, you only serve to increase doubt and suspicions about the fairness and integrity of the organization. Perhaps Goodell wants to protect the players that ratted from being ostracized throughout the NFL (and you know they will be), but by doing so Goodell is placing the reputation of the NFL management on the line to protect a few people who years down the road likely will not be remembered. Noble but not intelligent.

  28. p4ever says: Jun 17, 2012 9:38 AM

    Duh… “if you have proofs…it’s easy to prove”. That’s an epiphany.

  29. nyfootballgiants says: Jun 17, 2012 10:37 AM

    Like it or not, the nflpa and these players do not have a right (as they would in a court of law) to see all of the evidence – based on the cba they agreed to.

    In addition, By having Vilma sue for defamation of character, the NFL is not going to release any information until ordered to by the courts. That is how all businesses would operate in the same situation.

    The NFL is also trying to protect people who blew the whistle, because unlike other professions, if you are blacklisted in the nfl, there isn’t other employer to go to. (in other professions, there are other companies and or industries you can work in. It is harder to prove someone was cut/not resigned in the nfl due to retaliation.)

  30. citizenstrange says: Jun 17, 2012 10:42 AM

    Goodell is better at destroying evidence than providing it.

    If that seems corrupt it’s because it is.

  31. mrpowers88 says: Jun 17, 2012 4:51 PM

    Anyone stopping to think that during the whole 3 year bounty system, the saints D just wasnt that good? Face it, the difference between when they won the Super Bowl and the next 2 seasons was that Darren Sharper was spectacular the one year and they got a few timely sacks (How else would, 2 seasons removed from a SB win, their SS leads the team in sacks?)

    I’m sick of hearing the “If there was a bounty system, show us who got hurt and who was paid” defense. The only reason you use that is if you cannot fully deny the system being in place. If bounties were not in place, there would have been no reason to lie to NFL investigators.

    Granted, I dont like how Goodell has handled this whole thing, but would the suspensions/penalties have been so bad if either a)The saints just stopped with their system after the league came to them after their Super Bowl win or b)They copped to the simple pay-for-performance allegations instead of lying more?

  32. dzor22 says: Jun 17, 2012 9:49 PM

    wow. The bars in N.O. must provide computers….because all of their ‘legal analysts’ are on here offering really great insight . The quality of their reason aligns with the quality of the officiating in many Saints games. Analyze that crime!

  33. acetw says: Jun 18, 2012 7:14 AM

    “packhawk04 says:
    Jun 17, 2012 12:27 AM
    Youd think gregg williams, sean payton, and the saints organization owning up to it would put this to rest, but i guess not.”

    And you’d think some people would have the common sense by now to know that Gregg Williams, Sean Payton and the Saints organization haven’t “owned up” to anything the NFL has accused them of, but I guess not.

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