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NFLPA outside counsel hints at exculpatory evidence disclosed by league on Monday

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Perhaps lost in the unpredictable events surrounding the appeal hearings in the Saints bounty case was the official reaction to the situation from the NFL Players Association.

Outside counsel Richard Smith questioned the fairness of the process with a 12-point critique of the league’s handling of the case, calling the investigation “sloppy,” accusing the league of launching a P.R. campaign aimed at “tarnish[ing] the reputations of players,” withholding evidence, falsely characterizing interviews, and more.

Two points specifically caught our attention.

First, Smith claims that NFL outside counsel Mary Jo White attended Monday’s hearings to “read the report of an investigation she did not conduct, but [the league] prohibited her from answering any questions from the players.”  Second, Smith says that the league produced at “today’s hearing a declaration from a team advisor who said that no bounty program existed.”

As to the first point, our official position is this:  Are you kidding me?  White, a former prosecutor, presented the NFL’s case but was prevented from answering any obvious follow-up questions like, for example, “Why are we hearing for the first time that Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt kicked in $5,000 to the bounty pool?”

As to the second point, it’s unclear what Smith specific is referring to.  But it sounds like the NFL has produced evidence that suggests there wasn’t a bounty program.  We’re trying to get more information about this specific item.

Smith ultimately accuses the league of abusing its power under the labor deal, and he concludes with a statement that would seem alarming but for the various surprising developments of another crazy day in the craziest of NFL offseasons:  “At a time when some question the safety and integrity of the game, the failure by those charged to act responsibly and fairly have challenged our collective faith and confidence in the league.”

If this is labor peace, I’d hate to see what labor unrest would look like.

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30 Responses to “NFLPA outside counsel hints at exculpatory evidence disclosed by league on Monday”
  1. tweeter75 says: Jun 18, 2012 11:17 PM

    The NFLPA……..Morons protecting morons.

  2. fourthand20 says: Jun 18, 2012 11:23 PM

    And I thought I was tired of the “DUI with weed in the car” stories.

  3. rickyspanish says: Jun 18, 2012 11:26 PM

    I had to look up exculpatory, those five dollar words are out of my price range.

  4. ilovefoolsball says: Jun 18, 2012 11:31 PM

    It’s funny how so many people bash the NFLPA and the Saints players yet the same people have so much faith in the NFL administration considering how amateurish they’ve handled this thing from the start.

  5. thejuddstir says: Jun 18, 2012 11:35 PM

    I wonder what Stain’s fans think of Tom Benson when they hear of this , per Peter King,…… “• The unending stream of evidence from Saints computers, which is going to create some very strange bedfellows inside the Saints’ football facility … seeing that the two-year sweep of the all Saints’ e-mails and computer-generated PowerPoints was OK’d by owner Tom Benson, who helped seal the case against the four suspended players and three coaches and general manager Mickey Loomis by allowing forensics experts to search for incriminating electronic evidence against his employees.

    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/06/18/new.orleans.saints.bounties/index.html#ixzz1yCsEDJNd

  6. gimmeabruschi says: Jun 18, 2012 11:36 PM

    All the vineyards in France do not contain as many sour grapes as the NFLPA has after they were taken to the cleaners in the CBA negotiations. Boo hoo

  7. mrlaloosh says: Jun 18, 2012 11:36 PM

    This here is getting interesting. Could it be that the commish’ is one of them guys that’s “all hat and no cattle?”
    I’m sure there’s got to be better evidence than what’s been shown.
    Maybe the Goodell media slurpers will beat the drum and distort the evidence for him.

  8. sfsaintsfan says: Jun 18, 2012 11:38 PM

    This is part of the “evidence” released by the NFL:
    (Really this is word for word from a PowerPoint.)

    ********

    Hydration
    Carbohydration
    Every Meeting
    Don’t Wait Till Fri-Sat-Sun!
    Rehydrate and Carbohydrate Every 30
    Minutes Post Practice!
    Be Alert to Hot Tubs / Hot Whirl Pools
    Alcohol is Also Dehydrating

    ********

    I am sure the two exclamation points are what did the Saints in!!

    Goodell is a joke.

    It will be fun watching him crash and burn.

  9. djstat says: Jun 18, 2012 11:58 PM

    Maybe Goodell needs to be fired. I have no issue with him suspending Vilma, but I do not understand how a mans lively hood can be taken away without fairness. NLRB?

  10. alexb64 says: Jun 19, 2012 12:00 AM

    Mike,

    Champ Kind called & said even he think you should sit a couple plays out. Seriously, you’re like a few posts away from saying you’ve discovered secret coded messages to you in President Obama’s speeches.

  11. goldrush36 says: Jun 19, 2012 12:08 AM

    You can say it was motivational or figurative all you want about kill the head but there is still audio PROOF of Williams telling them to take out Crabtree’s ACL and a little quote like this “Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head.” That’s not metaphoric… He’s instructing them to hit the players in the head as much as possible. So sugar coat it all you want but it happened and that evidence is as concrete as you need

  12. bearsandjazz says: Jun 19, 2012 12:13 AM

    My biggest problem is the fact that high profile individuals like these players and there lawyers will attempt to find every loophole possible to try and exonerate themselves. Clemens, bonds are perfect examples. Simple mistakes in a case leave loopholes for the guilty to be innocent. I hope everything stays as is. No more no less, there may not be a video showing the handing over of payments with dialogue explaining what it’s for but to say there is no evidence is just idiotic and reserved for the saints homers and idiots who think Goodell rules with the hand of god. You want purity in a sport as great as the NFL but only when it suits your team. There is enough evidence to prove that something happened that simply is not and should never be a part of this sport. For all you who want to claim the glove doesn’t fit defense you embarrass the sport and only prove that if you lie enough you just might get away with it.

  13. jamillar says: Jun 19, 2012 12:17 AM

    The NFLPA is a joke. They’re making the NFL more about legal proceedings than football. It’s not just this, it’s every time a suggestion is made by the NFL the NFLPA goes into full contact mode. It’s dull, tiresome and is quickly driving this fan away from the game.

    That said the NFL hasn’t done a very good job with this so-called bounty case.

  14. montsta says: Jun 19, 2012 12:24 AM

    I miss Stringer Bell.

  15. goldrush36 says: Jun 19, 2012 12:33 AM

    NCAA was sniffing around Vilma for the same type of crap when he was at the U… So I guess this must really be a stretch of the imagination…. All the apologists are comical though

  16. letmesetyoustraight says: Jun 19, 2012 12:35 AM

    WOW. Just, wow.

    He hit the nail on the head with point #3 (if you even took the effort to go read them):

    “Launched a public campaign in the media to support the discipline and tarnish the reputations of players before any hearing, effectively destroying any claim that the Commissioner could act as an impartial arbitrator”

    In the past the NFL has tried to keep anything controversial under tight wraps. But for the first time ever they have courted and flat out used the media to do their bidding. They are obviously very worried about those lawsuits, as they should be.

  17. bearsandjazz says: Jun 19, 2012 12:35 AM

    By the way…for all the Goodell haters. Remember one thing. This man is in charge of a billion dollar business. Why on gods green earth would he wan to tarnish the game and its value simply to be almighty Goodell. Why would he want to put the sports brand name on the line to show his broad sword. That makes no sense but hey the dellusional conspiracy thorists need someone to blame other than the guilty.

  18. croghan1919 says: Jun 19, 2012 12:48 AM

    Can we PLEASE fast forward past the Saints and their dubious game (planning) ethics?
    This cesspool is getting ridiculous.

  19. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 19, 2012 12:58 AM

    NFLPA is pandering to it’s electorate. Which is not predominately composed of white quarterbacks by any means. Particularly retired ones.

  20. rukkus1 says: Jun 19, 2012 12:58 AM

    Im a union man. Sometimes a union stands for something thats not the greater good.

    When you jump up and down and scream foul cuz retired players who chose to play the game have health issues…

    Dont jump up and down and scream foul when players are aiming to destroy eachothers well being.

    Nflpa looks foolish here. Not roger goodell. Nflpa looks foolish when you cant breath on a qb, not roger goodell.

    What goodell is doing, is just enforcing what the dumba55 players union asked for or pushed him to doing.

    How bout i file a grievance saying i want lazy boy chairs at my stadium, then file a lawsuit cuz i was force to sit in it cuz i was standing up

  21. jealst says: Jun 19, 2012 1:00 AM

    thejuddstir says:
    Jun 18, 2012 11:35 PM
    I wonder what Stain’s fans think of Tom Benson when they hear of this , per Peter King,…… “• The unending stream of evidence from Saints computers, which is going to create some very strange bedfellows inside the Saints’ football facility … seeing that the two-year sweep of the all Saints’ e-mails and computer-generated PowerPoints was OK’d by owner Tom Benson, who helped seal the case against the four suspended players and three coaches and general manager Mickey Loomis by allowing forensics experts to search for incriminating electronic evidence against his employees.

    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/06/18/new.orleans.saints.bounties/index.html#ixzz1yCsEDJNd
    ______________________________________

    As a Saints fan, I think Tom Benson did a great job cooperating with NFL officials. He did help “seal” the case. Tom Benson has hired a former FBI agent to review his organization about week ago. But hey, if we’re going to quote Peter King, even he said it looks more like a pay for performance program than a bounty.

  22. daknight93 says: Jun 19, 2012 1:04 AM

    Pure drama by Goodell…how can he give bits and pieces of evidence to nflpa on friday and present new evidence on monday…isn’t that a violation of cba? He was required to present same evidence as of friday…Goodell had no intention of being fair as usual to the players in this appeal process…Goodell has twisted, distorted and manipulated all evidence and I can’t believe anything he presents now. This mess and drama is so sad…the league is in a shameful place right about now.

  23. ydnubm says: Jun 19, 2012 1:06 AM

    The NFL has the upper hand here. The NFL was well aware of this explosive situation when they were negotiating the CBA. That’s why they, early on, asked that the commissioner be the sole judge and jury on player conduct and discipline. The NFLPA acquiesced.

    The NFL also knew that they were guilty of collusion in regards to the salary cap. So they wrote language into the CBA protecting themselves from such collusion. The NFLPA acquiesced.

    Who failed who? I hate to say it, but the blame lies squarely with the NFLPA. They conceded these points, and who knows what else, to get a deal done and get game checks coming in.

    The NFLPA Board of Player Representatives should have read the CBA and, most importantly, the fine print. They should have challenged it with the help of outside counsel. But they acquiesced. They approved it and are where they are today…

  24. stanklepoot says: Jun 19, 2012 4:00 AM

    djstat says: Jun 18, 2012 11:58 PM

    Maybe Goodell needs to be fired. I have no issue with him suspending Vilma, but I do not understand how a mans lively hood can be taken away without fairness. NLRB?
    _____________________________________
    Nope, NLRB has no place in this. This process is part of a negotiated agreement. So, the players can complain all they want, but they empowered this process when they signed the current CBA. Now, you can argue that they were put in a position in which they were at a serious disadvantage in negotiations and simply couldn’t win that fight, but the fact is that they eventually signed off on it. As for Goodell being fired or getting in trouble somehow, people need to let that pipe dream go. It’s really simple. The owners LOVE Goodell. He’s been great for business, which is what they care about. Goodell isn’t going anywhere any time soon. That’s not a statement of support, it’s a statement of fact.

  25. bengalsfanbill says: Jun 19, 2012 7:10 AM

    1. goldrush36 says:Jun 19, 2012 12:08 AM
    You can say it was motivational or figurative all you want about kill the head but there is still audio PROOF of Williams telling them to take out Crabtree’s ACL and a little quote like this “Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head.” That’s not metaphoric… He’s instructing them to hit the players in the head as much as possible. So sugar coat it all you want but it happened and that evidence is as concrete as you need

    ********************************************

    Goldrush, He, Williams, instructed them as you say. Where were the flags, fines and penalties on the players during the game? Obviously Williams has hung himself, but there is no evidence that the players did as he directed. So much of what has been said is subjective at best. For those of us who have played sports on any level know and understand motivational jargon.

  26. 9erssteve says: Jun 19, 2012 7:56 AM

    Vilma, you dont think the appeals process is fair? Well that’s a shame, but you HAD THE CHANCE to do something about it last year, You and ALL THE PLAYERS in the NFLPA! But you hired an ex-ambulance chaser to represent you instead of hiring an ex-PLAYER and then getting legal representation. Demaurice Smith know NOTHING about football, knows EVEN LESS about negotiations and thinks he can sue his way to a better deal for the NFLPA one decision at a time!

    The man is a joke, who’s screwed things up so badly for the players, and the FANS it’s just not funny! And the sad thing is he’s been re-elected to represent the players! It’s only gonna get worse from here! If people think Goodell has been bad for the league they need to take a look at whose representing the players and think again! This man will sue the NFL to death you mark my words and the ONLY person who will benefit will be Smith!

  27. noworrys05 says: Jun 19, 2012 8:31 AM

    Has anybody noticed that most of the people directly involved never completely deny, and will not fully answer questions about a bounty program existing! They always say “Well, we haven’t seen full evidence that a bounty program actually existed.” Another argument is “the commish has no right to punish players for conduct under the last CBA.” or “someone else should handle the punishments cause it is a salary cap issue.” Don’t believe there is an issue, go rewatch the Aint’s beat the s**t out of Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in those playoff games. How many cheap and blatantly late shots did Favre take? How about the hit Hargrove put on Warner on the int return when he blindsided him when Warner had no chance at the play anyway? Was Warner and Favre the proverbial and now infamous “head” in these games? I have been charged with two crimes in my life, both of which I denied from day one and refused to accept plea deals, both of which were dropped and I even won a civil case as a result of one. Now, I have friends that got caught red handed with alot of Drugs, a felony, and they never denie they had the drugs, but it is always, “the cop shouldn’t have pulled me over” or “he had no right to search the car” or “he never read me my miranda rights”. They are both guilty as sin but trying to get away from punishment through loopholes. The whole thing about not having direct evidence or the NFL handling this wrong is a smokescreen. They are guilty and don’t like the punishment. Bet if the punishment wasn’t so harsh, if there was a plea deal, we would not be arguing this point right now. We only are because Goodell threw the book at them. They are guilty as sin and never really deny it.

  28. sloppydogg says: Jun 19, 2012 8:54 AM

    This entire bounty crap is just trash, the league has more important stuff to deal with in the eye of the public. Dui, weed bust of players dealing to other players in the league, domestic violence, testing for other muscle strengthen drugs ( steroids ). I understand you pick the fights so you can win, I ask which do you think is easier to explain to a young kid now of days the bounty which is wrong also or the constant media of PLAYERS for the above mention baddies. We have always preach about staying away from drugs and yet every week the NFL make the headlines. So to mention this but Mr. Stallworth hit and kill a person, now that should be you’re campaign to keep the next generation safe.

  29. fballguy says: Jun 19, 2012 9:23 AM

    This line cracks me up…”accusing the league of launching a P.R. campaign aimed at tarnish[ing] the reputations of players”…LOL.

    Yeah…that’s what Goodell’s been all about since he took over…tarnishing the reputation of players and thus the league. That must be why he keeps looking the other way every time there’s an infraction.

    Insert eyeroll here.

  30. suprsquirrel says: Jun 19, 2012 9:54 AM

    bengalsfanbill says: Jun 19, 2012 7:10 AM

    Goldrush, He, Williams, instructed them as you say. Where were the flags, fines and penalties on the players during the game? Obviously Williams has hung himself, but there is no evidence that the players did as he directed. So much of what has been said is subjective at best. For those of us who have played sports on any level know and understand motivational jargon.

    ***********************************************

    ‘Motivational jargon’?

    I’m not sure where you played your sports at, perhaps it was on a penal colony, but as someone who played sports for several years I never heard any ‘motivational jargon’ that sounded anything remotely close to what Williams’ said.

    Sure, I heard ‘attack, attack attack’ and ‘you’ve got to have more heart’ or ‘you’ve got to want it more than the other guy.’ A ‘beat ‘em to the punch’ or a ‘you’ve got to be quicker to the ball.’ But I can assure you that in all my years of playing sports not once did I hear ‘motivational jargon’ consisting of ‘go for the head’ or ‘take out the ACL.’

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