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Monday’s events prompted league to go public with evidence

95653900MH104_NFC_Champions Getty Images

Feeling backed into a corner during a morning and afternoon of bounty developments that had some wondering whether the NFL was ready to tap out, the league decided to get off the mat and unload.

Monday’s meeting with 12 members of the media wasn’t planned in advance.  It happened based on the events of the day.

“There was no invite list,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT.  “Everyone knew the hearing was today.  Whoever showed up attended our briefing.”

But here’s the thing.  No one knew that the “briefing” would entail having outside counsel Mary Jo White re-enact her presentation of evidence from the bounty hearings.

“We didn’t decide to do it until the day unfolded,” Aiello said.  “We accommodated those who showed up, same as we do for those who cover league meetings.”

While it’s possible the league always intended to conduct the session for anyone who showed up, it would have made sense for the league to discreetly publicize that information in order to get more reporters to show up.  (I gladly would have postponed by annual Moon River physical for a Father’s Day Weekend trip to New York.)  And so the explanation seems to be true — which makes it fair to wonder what specifically made the league decide to invite the 12 reporters upstairs (there’s a Mae West reference in there somewhere, but I’m already feeling old enough without doing that) for an encore performance.

The league likely decided that it has beaten around the bush for too long, and that the time had come to reclaim the upper hand in the P.R. battle regarding the question of whether bounty evidence truly exists.  Though questions persist regarding the quality of the raw evidence (especially since the league still hasn’t shown anyone any of it), it makes much more sense to disclose items like the list of contributions made to the bounty pool before the 2009 NFC title game and the video in which former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove says “give me my money” after linebackers coach/assistant head coach Joe Vitt tells a group of players that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre may have a broken leg.

Instead of playing fast and loose with the contents of Hargrove’s declaration, with the substance of a September 2011 email from Mike Ornstein, and with a supposed “smoking gun” ledger that the league curiously chose not to use in the appeal hearings (even though most of the pages produced to the NFLPA were irrelevant to the case), the league should have just released the information from the January 2010 game against the Vikings.

Of course, it’s possible that the league’s goal was to suggest that the bounty aspect of the program extended far beyond the game that launched the Saints into Super Bowl XLIV.  Regardless of the reason, if the league would have focused on proving what the league easily can prove from the outset, it would have been harder for the players or anyone else to claim that there’s no evidence of bounties.

Whether what the league has disclosed proves anything remains in dispute.  And we’ll give attorney Peter Ginsberg an opportunity to respond to the evidence that the NFL has released during Tuesday’s PFT Live, which gets rolling at 12:00 p.m. ET.  We’ve also invited the league to designate someone to join us.

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38 Responses to “Monday’s events prompted league to go public with evidence”
  1. akhhorus says: Jun 19, 2012 8:53 AM

    Ginsburg is still claiming that there wasn’t any bounty system, no matter what is revealed he’s going to say the same thing if he’s still beating that dead horse. But I guess Florio has to continue his tank job for the Saints’ players. Oh well.

  2. mdd913 says: Jun 19, 2012 8:59 AM

    Adam Shefter, one of the 12 who did see the evidence, went on Mike and Mike this morning and basically said he was not sure that the evidence he saw fit the accusations. I was floored.

  3. jrmbadger says: Jun 19, 2012 9:01 AM

    Seems to me that the most damning evidence in this case is the NFL’s poor handling of this whole process. Whether or not there was a bounty program, the NFL has handled this extremely poorly.

  4. sloppydogg says: Jun 19, 2012 9:02 AM

    WoW Mr. goodbar you did it again you had no answer for the players sitting infront of you so once again you turn to the media and the public to fight your battle stop being the coward I know you are and just admit you bit off more then you can chew. What you had was gold but then you let you’re emotions get in the way HATE can blind one’s judgement.

  5. mjbulls45 says: Jun 19, 2012 9:07 AM

    if favre pulls that 1 out,

    who cares? – the vikes or colts win the SB that year,

    it was the 12 ppl in the huddle that cost them that game, bc it made them pass to make up for it and YES favre threw the pick but it would have never been a pass play had TAHI or whatever the FB not been in the huddle the play before,

    what abt the 4th and 1 dive for the saints that the vikes stopped them but they still got the call,

    it was crazy it seemed like all the big calls and penalties all went the saints way in the 4th and OT,

    and adrian peterson fumbled 4 times !!!! not the best back in football im sorry,

    no way,

    thinking back on it, that NFC title game was 1 of the best ever ,

    sad story,

    shady money, root of all evil , etc… favre is 1 tough dude tho…

  6. sloppydogg says: Jun 19, 2012 9:08 AM

    Hmmmm Mr. Goodbar would you have open the door to the media if the source where you receive you’re information from was present. I don’t think so buddy.

  7. doorharp11 says: Jun 19, 2012 9:08 AM

    Who cares about the evidence when williams testifies in court who and who wasnt apart of it all the evidence will be there. Smart move on vilmas part to include the US govt bc it will just help there case against him when the govt and justice system goes after them. Players and the nfl are a business who has to follow the same laws as every other business. I just hope brees can get that monster contract so benson can waist all that gauranteed money on a broken quarterback!

  8. saints97 says: Jun 19, 2012 9:10 AM

    To continue you needles in a haystack reference, I sure wish the NFL would stop hiding its needles in haystacks. Just show us the good stuff, if you’ve got it. And quit trying to use smoke and mirrors and by cryptic.

    Just throw the best evidence out there so all of this can end.

    I just don’t see what the NFL gains by handing out 195 pages of crap and 5 pages of decent evidence.

  9. robf2010 says: Jun 19, 2012 9:19 AM

    Can someone explain to me why Hargrove said “give me my money” for a hit he DID NOT DELIVER? The sound byte does not match the play on the field. How many “journalists” have to see that before one of them notices?

  10. bucrightoff says: Jun 19, 2012 9:22 AM

    Something tells me when the best evidence comes out, Vilma and others will never play in the NFL again because they’ll be facing criminal charges for paid assault. I betcha the NFL is trying to save these guys and themselves the indignity of players going to jail for playing the game.

  11. steveohho says: Jun 19, 2012 9:24 AM

    Saints are scapegoats. The NFL would never pull this with an owner connected (Mara) to the clique team. I guess its best to target a fly over franchise for scapegoating.

  12. fballguy says: Jun 19, 2012 9:28 AM

    Greg Williams has a tough decision to make. Or maybe he already made it.

  13. jenniferxxx says: Jun 19, 2012 9:32 AM

    Has slimeball Drew Brees weighed in yet? Any news on the Taints isn’t complete till the head dirtbag barfs out a lie or two.

  14. purpleguy says: Jun 19, 2012 9:35 AM

    Why in hell does everyone keep arguing about sufficiency of “evidence” when this isn’t either a criminal action with a very high eveidentiary/legal standard, or even a civil claim with lesser standards? It’s nothing more than a collectively bargained punishment process — there are no flipping due process rights. If the players don’t like the punishment system, bargain for a better one in the CBA. If the NFL found enough to punish the players, that’s enough under the CBA. Clearly, there was enough evidence to do satisfy the NFL, even if it was 5 pages out of 50,000.

  15. winningisabrees says: Jun 19, 2012 9:38 AM

    jenniferxxx says:
    Jun 19, 2012 9:32 AM
    Has slimeball Drew Brees weighed in yet? Any news on the Taints isn’t complete till the head dirtbag barfs out a lie or two.
    ———————————————–

    And your boy Cam Newton, is the symbol of everything that is right is sports, just ask his dad.

  16. percey12 says: Jun 19, 2012 9:39 AM

    Drew Brees, and all you other slow learners out there that were demanding evidence of a pay for injury system, please pay attention.

    “the video in which former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove says “give me my money” after linebackers coach/assistant head coach Joe Vitt tells a group of players that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre may have a broken leg.”

    There you go! Now Mr. Brees, I think you and all these other blind eyed Saints fans owe Mr. Goodell an apology!

  17. jrmbadger says: Jun 19, 2012 9:46 AM

    robf2010 says:
    Jun 19, 2012 9:19 AM
    Can someone explain to me why Hargrove said “give me my money” for a hit he DID NOT DELIVER? The sound byte does not match the play on the field. How many “journalists” have to see that before one of them notices?
    ========

    Kevin Seifert of espn.com posted that last night. He also broke down the evidence against Hargrove. To sum up – the league has very little evidence of anything other than a pay for performance program.

  18. doorharp11 says: Jun 19, 2012 9:49 AM

    Goodell cant release all the evidence, his lawyer told him to save the best stuff for the upcoming trial so that way when vilma and his crimnal cronies take the stand they are speechless.

  19. hikohadon says: Jun 19, 2012 9:53 AM

    Sloppydogg – If you want to insult Goodell, have at it. But “Mr. Goodbar” is just a terrible attempt. People stop reading the rest of your post because they figure the rest is as stupid as the insult.

  20. weswelkerspornstash says: Jun 19, 2012 10:01 AM

    If the evidence isn’t strong enough, could Tom Benson file suit against the league for defemation, false claims, reinstatement of suspensions, etc.?

    I’m obviously not a lawyer, but this Goodell should have thought this thing out

  21. musicman495 says: Jun 19, 2012 10:08 AM

    bucrightoff says: Jun 19, 2012 9:22 AM

    Something tells me when the best evidence comes out, Vilma and others will never play in the NFL again because they’ll be facing criminal charges for paid assault. I betcha the NFL is trying to save these guys and themselves the indignity of players going to jail for playing the game.
    ————————————————
    Right. I bet Jon Vilma is thanking his lucky stars that Roger Goodell is so concerned about his welfare. Sheesh.

  22. paulitik74 says: Jun 19, 2012 10:25 AM

    What the idiots need to realize is, that the more evidence the NFL releases, the more evidence players have for concussion lawsuits. There is a reason the NFL has kept this close to the vest. If Brett Favre starts suffering from concussion symptoms he now has a compelling case against the NFL as a whole. Not just the Saints.

    People need to realize that this is bigger than Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita.

    Tom Benson sold his team out to protect the interests of the NFL as a whole. Joe Vitt, Sean Payton, and Gregg Williams sold their players out. Saints fans need to focus on them instead of blasting the guy who is trying to keep the NFL from getting sued into becoming the AFL.

    Considering Scott Fujita and Drew Brees are union reps they have no one to blame but themselves if they don’t think the appeals process is fair.

  23. pooflingingmonkey says: Jun 19, 2012 10:35 AM

    As an organization, the Saints need to concede defeat and move on. Only Saints fans and the truely unobjective continue to believe in their innocence.

    The more they try to defend their indefensible behavior, the worse they look.

  24. bucrightoff says: Jun 19, 2012 10:39 AM

    musicman495 says:Jun 19, 2012 10:08 AM

    bucrightoff says: Jun 19, 2012 9:22 AM

    Something tells me when the best evidence comes out, Vilma and others will never play in the NFL again because they’ll be facing criminal charges for paid assault. I betcha the NFL is trying to save these guys and themselves the indignity of players going to jail for playing the game.
    ————————————————
    Right. I bet Jon Vilma is thanking his lucky stars that Roger Goodell is so concerned about his welfare. Sheesh.
    __________________________________
    He’s not. He’s concerned about the NFL and its image. And having players go to jail for actions during the actual game would be the biggest black eye in league history, not to mention would expose them even more in lawsuits in the future. God forbid an executive tries and protects his product.

  25. eyeh8goodell says: Jun 19, 2012 10:39 AM

    “Whether what the league has disclosed proves anything remains in dispute.”

    And that tells the entire story. There is no smoking gun or any damning evidence to justify what the NFL handed down. Any rational person (Saints fan or not….and i’m not) can see that. But it’s absolutely hilarious watching all these fans who immediately jumped all over the Saints without even hearing any “evidence” refuse to acknowledge they were wrong. It’s like watching a bunch of 6 year olds fold their arms and pout. I love it. So how would you people like your crow served? Blackened? Baked? In a soup?

  26. paulitik74 says: Jun 19, 2012 10:54 AM

    People forget, the Saints were let off. They were warned and kept up with the program. It’s ridiculous to complain that the penalties are too harsh, when if you had been honest and forthright in the beginning, there wouldve been no punishment. Today’s NFL is in a climate where safety is the topic du jour, and lawyers are drooling at the opportunity to fleece the NFL of billions of dollars with the new TV contracts coming up. For a team to get away with cheating their way into a Super Bowl, then thumb their nose at the league that let them off, it’s stunning that this is all they got.

  27. thatstinks says: Jun 19, 2012 11:00 AM

    ” Greg Williams has a tough decision to make. Or maybe he already made it. ”

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

    Or maybe Roger Clemens acquittal made it for him . Just really dicey stuff .

  28. lifeisafootballgame says: Jun 19, 2012 11:01 AM

    “There is no smoking gun or any damning evidence to justify what the NFL handed down.”

    The thing that keeps going without mention is that the NFL’s evidence was stated early on to be testimony from multiple, independent sources with first hand knowledge, and also documents that corroborated their story.

    What the NFL showed the players were the documents that corroborate the testimony. The documents themselves may or may not stand alone as perfectly ironclad, but in the role of corroborating eye witness testimony they seem pretty darn solid.

    The only real issue is that the full testimony has not been made available, or public. Only the summary, which was originally given in the NFL press release. I don’t expect it will be given fully. After the Warren Sapp attempted outing of one such person, it wouldn’t be unusual for the NFL to take great care to protect those sources. As PFT pointed out early on in Bountygate, if they want people to be honest and tell the truth they need to protect the identity of the whistleblowers.

    When we see the “handwritten notes” on paid bounties turned into type-written copies, I think it’s clear the most obvious reason for something like that is to protect against the source being outed by their handwriting or the original document being recognized by the players.

    The NFLPA has done an excellent job though in conditioning the public to only focus on the documents provided and not view them in the context of corroborating evidence to eye witness testimony. The NFL has dropped the ball in the PR battle, but still seems to have a very solid case.

  29. ghostofnflpresent says: Jun 19, 2012 11:23 AM

    “give me my money!” – *Saints A. Hargrove 2009 NFC Championship game

  30. eeerockski says: Jun 19, 2012 11:28 AM

    Something tells me the league is doing this on purpose. Stringing everybody along because they don’t have to show any damning evidence, yet. Publicity, keeping the NFL relevant in it’s “off-season” seems to me to be the agenda. Perhaps there’s no “smoking gun” at all, but taken as a whole, these guys seem to be guilty as charged and are using any leverage they can find to tilt public opinion in their favor.

  31. daybreaker2 says: Jun 19, 2012 11:35 AM

    All you people keep using the Vikings game to “prove” a bounty system.

    For months now, Saints fans have maintained there was a bounty on Favre in that ONE game.

    Then there was a pay for performance system that DID NOT include payments for injuries.

    ONE GAME does not equal THREE YEARS of bounties.

    I know thats hard for you guys to understand with Goodell’s junk in your mouth, but try.

  32. dsharpe8 says: Jun 19, 2012 11:36 AM

    Well the NFLPA is screwed for the next decade… They were the ones who agreed to the new CBA, no one put a gun to their head and forced them to sign the dotted line… This whole situation speaks volumes about the NFLPA’s leadership as they signed a f#$ked CBA and in the process gave “GODDELL” total control and all power….

  33. j0esixpack says: Jun 19, 2012 11:58 AM

    The first rule of the NFL is don’t embarrass Roger Goodell. The second rule of the NFL is din’t embarrass Roger Goodell.

    When Goodell is embarrassed by a team he lashes out like a wounded animal and attempts to demonize them.

    In this case Goodell knows that Bounty-gate was fueled by his own injury reporting policy that put Las Vegas and mob bookie interests ahead of player safety – causing him to REALLY come down hard on the Saints.

    Look at Spygate. Goodell’s own rules allow for filming of signal calling. After 2006 it was only prohibited from the sidelines. The Patriots crime was filming from the sidelines but mostly in making Goodell look bad because clueless fans didn’t know that all teams film signal calling.

    Goodell counts on fans being ignorant and for the most part, he’s correct judging by the number of fans that clearly don’t understand what transpired in Spygate.

  34. easyeddie says: Jun 19, 2012 12:14 PM

    purpleguy says:

    Why in hell does everyone keep arguing about sufficiency of “evidence” when this isn’t either a criminal action with a very high eveidentiary/legal standard, or even a civil claim with lesser standards? It’s nothing more than a collectively bargained punishment process — there are no flipping due process rights.

    ——————————————-
    Why? Because we live in a society where everyone feels entitled to do most anything they want without repercussions, where lawyers with agendas rule the day, where the blogosphere blowhards can fool the the general public, many of whom are ignorant and uneducated, into thinking there’s no difference between a court of law and a mutually negotiated CBA, where the guilty are lauded and celebrated and the innocent are ridiculed and punished.

  35. stanklepoot says: Jun 19, 2012 12:43 PM

    steveohho says: Jun 19, 2012 9:24 AM

    Saints are scapegoats. The NFL would never pull this with an owner connected (Mara) to the clique team. I guess its best to target a fly over franchise for scapegoating.
    _________________________________
    Sure, after years of highlighting the Saints as the feel good story of the NFL, the league decides out of the blue to then make them the bad guys of the league and draw the bad press out forever. This isn’t the WWE. That kind of story isn’t what the NFL wants. They don’t want controversy or bad press. The Saints violated the rules, lied to the league about it when they were being investigated, and foolishly and arrogantly continued the very program they were being investigated for right up until the hammer was dropped on them. It was like USC all over again. Everyone basically knew what was going on, but they convinced themselves they were untouchable. When you have that kind of attitude, things can get rather ugly when the real world comes crashing down on you.

  36. all32 says: Jun 19, 2012 12:53 PM

    Saints fans and players move on. What a joke!!

  37. gingerkid2000 says: Jun 19, 2012 1:05 PM

    All I know is that when I don’t do something that I’m not responsible for, I always issue an apology and take “full responsibility” for what I didn’t do. That is what really proves the players innocence. The fact that Williams, Peyton & Loomis all issued statements about how “sorry” they were and took “full responsibility” for doing absolutely nothing wrong right? So then, clearly nothing happened. The coaches & gm apologized for all the nothing that happened. Hargrove was told to deny the nothing that happened. And now the players are being wrongly accused for the nothing that happened. Never has the media cared so much about all the nothing that happened.

    PS – If you look up “hack” in the dictionary there’s a picture of Florio next to it.

  38. saintsfan26 says: Jun 19, 2012 2:34 PM

    You know, this Hargrove “give me my money” thing would make alot more sense if Hargrove was actually the one who injured Favre. But he wasnt. So why would Hargrove ask for the money if he wasnt the one who injured Favre? Makes no sense. But then again, none of the NFL’s “evidence” makes any sense, so why should this?

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