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Evidence against Fujita shows that bounty case is all about semantics

Drew Brees, Scott Fujita AP

Lost in the debate regarding whether Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre prior to the 2009 NFC title game and whether former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove said, “Bobby, give me my money” after it appeared Favre had been knocked out of the 2009 NFC title game is the fact that former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita faces no specific allegation that he contributed to the alleged bounty on Favre — or to any specific bounty on any specific player.

Instead, the bounty case against Fujita consists of two claims:  that he contributed money for the pool that paid players for sacks and forced fumbles (which necessarily isn’t and can’t be a “bounty”), and that he contributed $2,000 to the “general” pay-for-performance pool prior to the 2009 NFC title game.

(The latter comes from the same notes that the NFL regarded as sufficiently unreliable to result in Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt even being asked about whether he contributed $5,000 to the alleged bounty on Favre.  But those same notes nevertheless have fueled Fujita’s punishment.)

So why has Fujita been suspended three games to start the 2012 regular season?

The answer comes from the league’s focus on the payment of cash for big, clean, legal hits that caused a player to leave, for part of the game (clumsily dubbed a “cart-off” by the Saints) or for the rest of the game (less clumsily labeled a “knockout”).  That’s why the NFL seized so aggressively upon Mike Triplett’s recent interview with Saints linebacker Scott Shanle, who as Triplett writes “admitted some wrongdoing on the Saints’ part, including the existence of rewards for legal hits that led to injuries and terms such as ‘cart-offs’ and ‘knockouts.'”

And so the league’s case against the players amounts to a contention that the pay-for-performance program included payments for big, clean, legal hits that caused a player to exit the field, whether for one or more plays or the rest of the game.  The problem with the league’s logic is that, even without the extra cash, professional football players (especially defensive players) already are paid to deliver big, clean, legal hits.  The goal in delivering big, clean, legal hits is to break the opponent’s will or, at a minimum, get him thinking not about doing his own job, but about avoiding another big, clean, legal hit.

An unspoken (usually) goal of delivering big ,clean, legal hits is to make opposing players unavailable to play.  As long as the big hit is clean and legal, there’s no rule (yet) against trying to hit a player so hard that he can’t keep playing.

Perhaps that’s why the NFL has felt compelled to make its case seem stronger than it is, and to make the Saints’ behavior seem more sinister than it was.  By painting a picture of players who were looking to go beyond the rules to inflict injuries, the league successfully has glossed over the philosophical question of whether a player who already is paid to deliver big, clean, legal hits should be punished for receiving a little extra pay to (wait for it) deliver big, clean, legal hits.

It’s not that the Saints were trying to injure players.  It’s that the Saints were offering extra money for big, clean, legal hits that advanced the pre-existing objective of victory through attrition, a concept that has been part of the game since the game was invented.

This inconsistency first surfaced when comparing the huge gap between Gregg Williams’ cartoonish remarks the night before the January 2012 playoff game against the 49ers and the absence of any extracurricular hits or stomps or knee-whackings or conduct other than big, clean, legal hits.  (Of course, most of the big, clean, legal hits applied in that game were applied to members of the Saints.)  But the distinction between talk and action largely has been lost in the stream of flawed evidence leaked and/or published by the league.

So instead of debating whether it’s fair and just to dub as a “bounty” program money paid to a player for doing the job he already is paid to do, much of the debate has centered the accuracy and credibility of the league’s interpretation of items like:  the Anthony Hargrove declaration; the Mike Ornstein email of September 2011; the bounty ledger that was summarized for Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports; the specific proof that Jonathan Vilma offered a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre; and the question of whether sideline video from the 2009 NFC title game actually proves that Hargrove said, “Bobby, give me my money.”

Maybe that’s precisely what the league has wanted.  Maybe the league hopes to avoid a full-blown debate on what’s really going on here.  Players were paid extra money for doing the jobs they already were paid to do.  Absent proof linking the pooled cash to dirty or illegal hits aimed at inflicting injury, the Saints did nothing between the white lines that any other team ever sets out to do.  Instead, some members of the Saints simply got a little extra money for doing what they already were supposed to do.

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98 Responses to “Evidence against Fujita shows that bounty case is all about semantics”
  1. sbdt says: Jun 21, 2012 8:53 PM

    Thank you.

  2. lostsok says: Jun 21, 2012 8:55 PM

    If players “were paid extra money for doing the jobs they already were paid to do” wouldn’t that be a salary cap violation?

    Someone should look into this…

    Maybe the Saints should be fined or something.

  3. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 21, 2012 9:03 PM

    Uh, no one is forcing these guys to play in the NFL. No one is forcing the coaches to coach in the NFL. No one is forcing the franchise to be part of the NFL. You don’t like the rules, go somewhere else. You want to be part of the NFL, and earn NFL dollars, you play by the BLEEPING RULES OF THE LEAGUE.

    If they want all sorts equal rights protected by amendments, etc. etc. they can apply for them working in the construction industry or the service industry. Then they can whine.

  4. norcalmafia says: Jun 21, 2012 9:05 PM

    Reports on this bounty case are starting to be the same thing over and over..kinda like a weather report in Seattle…looks like rain again!

  5. colinito says: Jun 21, 2012 9:11 PM

    Though I agree in part that this has been overblown by the NFL, I think the NFC Championship game against the Vikings is an example of where hits became not-so clean, and the alleged bounty played into some of the not-so legal hits Brett Favre took throughout the game.

    Though the Vikes lost the game with those fumbles, they still could have pulled it out if not for a few not-so clean hits that were apparently a part of Williams’ football culture, and motivated by a new-car’s worth of bonus/bounty money.

    Just like Spygate, “Bountygate” has been overblown and sensationalized. Surprising that this hasn’t brought about the same hatred and vitriol that Spygate brought against the Patriots, as this does seem to be worse…but I suppose the Patriots have been more consistently successful, and haters gon’ hate…

  6. mark0226 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:12 PM

    Good summary and precisely what I’ve been saying all along. The Saints were punished for doing what every team in the NFL is paid to do on defense.

  7. saintij says: Jun 21, 2012 9:12 PM

    OKAY now here’s when the “Moon Walking” off this subject begins because. The next question is???????…….

    DID THE PLAYERS ACTUALLY TAKE THE MONEY, OR DID THEY SAY “GIVE IT BACK” ?

    i know i heard where the players were offered the payouts but refused payment ????? huh

    bounty????

  8. clevelandismycity says: Jun 21, 2012 9:12 PM

    F the commish.. Judge, jury, and executioner… This system needs to change..

  9. leprekan says: Jun 21, 2012 9:14 PM

    All of these “rewards” that everyone is talking about are explicitly against the rule of the CBA, and whether the players like the CBA or not it still governs the relationship between the league and the players. Whether the players intended to hurt anyone or not they offered money above and beyond for what they even termed (according the Power Point that has been talked about) as a bounty. The thing that everyone doesn’t seem to want to address in this whole conspiracy theory is that the NFL is VERY aware of its public image, and this is hurting that image. There is no way the league wanted this, but sometimes you have to be the bad guy for the greater good.

  10. statton0104 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:17 PM

    Am I missing something or is this thing saying Scott Fujita is being punished for doing nothing against the rules?

  11. captainwisdom8888 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:19 PM

    Across the entirety of the NFL, I believe the players would consider each other brothers for the most part. The physical nature of the game does manage to promote some very hostile feelings towards one another, and unfortunately it boils over from time to time.

    For a player to aim at seriously injuring another player(Or a coach advising his players to do just that), that exemplifies an atrocious lack of respect for the game and the health of your fellow man…THERE’S NO PLACE IN THE GAME FOR IT. I’m no Goodell fan, not by a longshot, but the guy had to send a message that this isn’t going to be tolerated…and the NFL now and in the future will be made better because of it.

  12. saintsfan26 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:19 PM

    Truth. Its so refreshing.

  13. vikescry1 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:20 PM

    @lostsok it is a salary cap violation, either way these guy’s deserve whatever they get. they were told to stop and then lied to the commish, and kept on doing it. some times a slap on the hands isn’t enough, sometimes you need a good arse whipping to understand what you did was wrong.

  14. Deb says: Jun 21, 2012 9:20 PM

    My issues with the Saints were two-fold. First, their coaches knowingly skirted the salary cap by taking money from Ornstein–a shadowy figure who’d already crippled USC’s football program with dirty money. Second, their coaches blatantly tried to rev up players to cross the line into inflicting potentially life-threatening head injuries–at a time when the league was actively trying to minimize head shots.

    Goodell made his point with the well-deserved suspension of the Saints coaches and GM. Now he’s just making a convoluted mess. I can see the argument on Vilma if there’s proof he offered a $10,000 bounty on Favre. But Fujita is a ridiculous stretch. And if Hargrove or any other Saint laid a dirty hit on an opponent, it should have been flagged and fined at the time. Enough already.

  15. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jun 21, 2012 9:21 PM

    A lot of us have played a little football, and one key factor to consider: nobody needs a “bounty” to want to hit someone and knock ‘em out of the game. That’s just part of the game — been that way forever.

    Just don’t chop knees, lay a hit past the echo of the whistle, pull any of that Charles-Martin-slamming-Jim-McMahon b.s., etc.

    The Saints suspensions, player fines, player suspensions, rhetoric, are transparent. Goodell and the NFL seem to be VERY interested in APPEARING as though their paramount concern is player safety.

    Yeah, … “Hey Goodell/NFL, I can’t hear you talking – your actions were/are too loud.

  16. eaglesfootballfan says: Jun 21, 2012 9:25 PM

    There was a bounty system in play Florio. Plain and Simple

  17. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 21, 2012 9:25 PM

    Their heads are obscured by a cloud of denial, but you can clearly hear Goodell saying, “Bobby, Scott, Vilma, Williams, all of you (expletives), give me your money!”.

  18. geefan1 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:29 PM

    The way Brett Favre was abused in the playoffs went way beyond big clean legal hits.

  19. r0b1b0y says: Jun 21, 2012 9:29 PM

    Make no mistake, Fujita was included in this because he is white and because his record in the league is so clean. Without Fujita in this, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the NAACP would be all over this. Goodell is covering his tail. Very sad.

  20. calv23 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:31 PM

    I would take it a step further and wager a good amount that Payton’s “lying and continuing the program after they were warned” involved those semantics as well.

    I think the next question is why? Why were all the NFL’s distortions meant to maximize the savagery of the program? Why were all their press releases, leaks, and words from Goodell himself meant to magnify the Saints’ evilness instead of minimize, like you’d think they’d do with such a ‘scandal’? Jeff Pash said that it made no sense for the NFL to do this to themselves–which tells me that the NFL did this to themselves. Why else would all the press releases be timed for maximum impact like this? None of the bounty news was buried behind any March Madness games, big free agency news, baseball opening day, etc. Mr. Florio, you know how the news cycle and the “Friday afternoon news dump” works. Why didn’t the NFL use it, or any of the aforementioned opportunities to bury the story if they truly didn’t have an agenda to maximize the Saints’ evil image?

    My answer is simple. They want to prove in their concussion lawsuits that it was this freelanced behavior on the players’ parts that fell OUTSIDE of the NFL’s safety rules & normal scope of the game that inflicted such long lasting damage on them. You can see them start to pivot into this strategy with Dick Durbin’s involvement in the show. They had to provide a clear line between players and the league, and had to do it in a way that made a lasting impression. Just a hunch.

  21. infectorman says: Jun 21, 2012 9:32 PM

    Semantics.

    You mean like when a player who just worked his tail off to get into to position to make a “big, clean” hit on an opponent and knock him out of the game versus “accidentally” delivering a “big, not-so-clean hit” to knock an opponent out of a game?

    Any defensive player will gladly trade off a 15 yard penalty for an illegal hit, if it carries with it a good chance to remove a crucial player out of the opponents line-up for the balance of a game.
    You ain’t splittin’ hairs here, Florio, you’re splittin’ freakin’ Atoms!
    This is such BS where you’re going with this “story”.

    There is hardly any difference between “pay-for-performance” and “bounties”. The end result can very often be the same.
    At least not in a game where extreme physical contact and injuries to the players are so commonplace.

  22. vonsmoky71165 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:33 PM

    lostsok says:

    If players “were paid extra money for doing the jobs they already were paid to do” wouldn’t that be a salary cap violation?

    Someone should look into this…

    Maybe the Saints should be fined or something.
    ________________________________

    Duh?? They were!! $500k each for Mickey Loomis and the Team (Saints)

  23. calv23 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:37 PM

    More food for thought on Fujita’s inclusion in the suspensions:

    Such a well spoken, fiery leader sure would have made a great player safety advocate over the next contentious decade of so. I wonder how much his effectiveness in that role would be diminished by that big Scarlet “B” he’d have to wear his whole life after football.

    On top of that, much like the NFLRA today, he accused Goodell of being untruthful many times as a player rep during the lockouts last year. I wonder how much extra pleasure the Judge, Jury, and Executioner takes in sticking it to Brees and Fujita this offseason?

  24. stevemdlthn says: Jun 21, 2012 9:37 PM

    Ok all you Saints bashers…. riddle me this Why DID THE LEAGUE TAKE DOWN THE HARGROVE VIDEO? Most of you don’t understand why Vilma won’t just give up, and that’s understandable since the majority of you teams give up by week 10

  25. miamisaint3255 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:39 PM

    Well said. Thank you. Sad that Vilma loses an entire season and his career is in jeopardy over this nonsense. Its all about the BIG EGO of Goodell. Sometimes full grown adults with a lot of power (too much power) act like children. Goodell’s ego won’t let him admit the NFL’s investigation of the Saints has been very problematic and penalties should be substantially lessened. If Vilma’s case goes to trial though, Goodell’s big ego is going to get him fired.

  26. Fan On Fire_Maurice Barksdale says: Jun 21, 2012 9:40 PM

    The NFL is in uncharted territory. The more this concussion issue mushrooms, the more problems the NFL is going to have. The NFL believes that by humiliating their own players and coaches publicly through the media it will help them gain control over this issue, and strike fear into those who would challenge them.

    But what it’s really doing is creating a generation of players who realize that the NFL will hang the out to dry without prejudice if it means protecting their own interests. And all that’s going to happen is that when the CBA negotiations come up again, it won’t be just about money like the last time. It will be even more about Roger Goodell’s power and taking as much of it away from him as they can.

  27. FinFan68 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:41 PM

    Everybody (especially the media) is caught up in the hype of “bounties”. Where in the CBA/rules are “bounties” expressly addressed? I seriously doubt that they are mentioned at all. The Saints organization, coaches and players are all being punished for one thing: conduct detrimental to the league. It does not matter what behavior can be classified as a “bounty”, especially considering the variances of the meaning of that word as it applies to play on the field. Rather than concentrating on what actions do or do not meet your personal definition of a “bounty”, look at what they did as it applies to the clause they are being punished under. Technicalities do not really matter (and neither does a bounty) as they are being punished for “conduct detrimental to the league” and the sole opinion that matters in that regard belongs to Roger Goodell as was negotiated in past CBAs. Rather than squabble publicly about evidence and reputations, the players would have been better off acknowledging their mistakes and arguing for reduced suspensions. The suspensions would likely have been less anyway if these geniuses would not have lied and then ignored the warnings and then lied again.

  28. northshoresaint9 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:41 PM

    ***WHO-DAT’?!!!*** Bitch~ass NFL-brass needs 2 S.T.F.U.!!!!!!!!!

  29. j0esixpack says: Jun 21, 2012 9:44 PM

    Nicely done.

    If we don’t draw the line here in the NFL, the next thing you know it the NHL will be awash in senseless violence to inflict injury.

    Of course we do have to recognize degrees of trying to decapitate or target injured players where they are weakest, and just efforts to put on good strong clean hits.

    We’re in a pretty deep gray area and it still seems like the Saints may have dipped into the black here.

    Roger Goodell* will get to the bottom of it.

  30. usmutts says: Jun 21, 2012 9:46 PM

    “is it fair to dub as a ‘bounty program’ money paid to a player to do what he is already paid to do?”

    Well, if so, then what do you call it when a defensive player, who has had an exceptionally good year giving out many, many large, clean, legal hits, sometimes resulting in – or at least associated with – injuries to offensive players, gets rewarded with a new contract with lots and lots of more money, just as he was promised before the season started?

    It sure sounds like a post-season bounty rather than a post-game bounty, now doesn’t it? A distinction without a difference.

    Under the NFL Czar’s logic, therefore, any performance based increase in income is a bounty. The Czar has no pants.

  31. sfsaintsfan says: Jun 21, 2012 9:46 PM

    lostsok says:

    “If players “were paid extra money for doing the jobs they already were paid to do” wouldn’t that be a salary cap violation?

    Someone should look into this…

    Maybe the Saints should be fined or something.”

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

    The NFL has already said there was no salary cap violation. Several other teams have had a “pay for performance” program and there has never been an allegation of a salary cap violation by the NFL.

    The reason Fujita has been targeted by the NFL is simple, he is way up there in the NFLPA and the league was able to slap down a union leader and make a statement.

    Fujita is a stand-up guy, he is no longer a Saint and I hope he clears his name.

  32. cwwgk says: Jun 21, 2012 9:47 PM

    What has truly been lost during the players recent theatrics and the media’s drumbeat against the NFL, is the procedural nightmare the players have created for themselves by not participating in their own appeals. By storming out of their hearing, they likely have waived all rights to have the merits of their claims heard.

    As demonstrated earlier today, the judicial system won’t review the fairness of disciplinary actions imposed pursuant to a legally binding CBA. Instead, the courts will merely determine whether the agreed upon procedures in the CBA were followed when one party disciplined the other.

    In this case, the players decided not to avail themselves of the opportunity to at least go through the appeal process their union bound them to. While I understand they felt it wasn’t a worthy exercise since the chance of prevailing was perhaps non-existent, they would have at least created and preserved a record. They could have raised the very issues in this articles and others they have complained about in the press. But they didn’t and now have no record of action/inaction by Goodell about which to complain.

    The CBA makes no mention of litigating through the media. If the players now try to get the courts involved the they have opened themselves up to the very legitimate argument that if anyone didn’t follow the CBA procedures it was them for refusing to participate.

    For all the histrionics on both sides of the debate, all that is left for a court to do is interpret a contract.

  33. bereado says: Jun 21, 2012 9:51 PM

    Do fines affect the salary cap? Nope. So why would players putting their own hard earned cash into a pool of money to redistribute to teammates affect a salary cap? The money is not coming from the teams or NFL, it is coming from players own pockets. That is a pretty stupid take.

  34. patsfan says: Jun 21, 2012 9:53 PM

    maybe if they had used one of those marketing terms the league liked (before it didn’t like it) you know, something catchy like “He got Jacked UP!”

    Geez, maybe they could have it administered by somebody with some integrity, say a Judge like Judge Sapp

    Roger Goodell, your fifteen minutes are up. Please pick up the white courtesy phone…

  35. rockstart42 says: Jun 21, 2012 9:57 PM

    Its players putting into an office pool essentially. It isn’t the club paying the players… so there is no salary cap violations.

  36. zn0rseman says: Jun 21, 2012 9:59 PM

    I’m calling bull here.

    In the 2009 NFC title game one of the Saints linemen leveled Favre 2-3 seconds AFTER he handed the ball off on a running play. Such a flagrant illegal hit goes far beyond the pale of “delivering big ,clean, legal hits”. The player who hit Favre on that play went to the sideline after and Sean Payton clearly says: “Do it again.”

    Also, let’s not forget that the play in which Hargrove said “Pay me my money!!!” was itself an illegal high-low hit that should have been penalized.

    Let us also not forget that this pool of money they are talking about had contributers like Ornstein, a convicted felon with ties to sports gambling. They gave him a Super Bowl ring. The presence of such a shady figure on the Saints sideline, in their locker room, combine with how horribly officiates that game was in favor of the Saints, make me believe that it’s very likely that Ornstein and his sports gambling pals had money in the pockets of more than just Saints players.

    That, to most football fans, should be the biggest concern and ultimately the real story behind the story. I want want my football pure, and frankly, after watching that game, it really doesn’t feel that it is anymore.

  37. j0esixpack says: Jun 21, 2012 10:00 PM

    I was also greatly disillusioned to recently see that outright attempts at violence were the norm in football dating back to the Korean War.

    No wonder there’s all those asterisks in M*A*S*H*

  38. stonesthrowawaysoduck says: Jun 21, 2012 10:02 PM

    The question comes down to: was this a “Karate Kid” type situation where the coach(es) were telling players to go break the kids’ leg with full intention to injure. That is what the NFL is saying (and most Viking fans).

    But what if it’s just not that sinister? What if the coaches were saying what EVERY other coach has likely said somewhere, somehow: go lay out number XX, give him a shot to remember. Or number 33 has a sore knee, give him some incentive to decide to rest it. And whenever they see a star player laying injured on the ground, thinking “Man I hope hope he’s okay… after the game.” None of these would have been (and likely never will be) cause for suspensions. Not if you are going to have an inherently violent game like football.

    There may be a few bad apples in the NFL who truly do wish to harm/injure an opposing player. The funny thing is that everyone knows (out on the gridiron) who is a dirty player and who isn’t. I’m not talking fans and homers. The athletes who complete for sport and their livelihood. I don’t think anyone would consider the Saints a “dirty” team prior to this scandal. If anything, the defense (in 2011 at least) hardly seem worthy of being called aggressive, let alone dirty.

  39. reporterofthetruth says: Jun 21, 2012 10:04 PM

    You mean the Saints may have been guilty of playing hard-nosed football along with some locker room betting on who can lay the wood? That seems inconceivable to me.

  40. trademarkelane says: Jun 21, 2012 10:08 PM

    So why are we losing Fujita for three games? For playing the right way? I’m really confused, why do the Browns have to pay for the Saints problem? None of this is really making much sense let alone showing a point the NFL is trying to make.

  41. paulitik74 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:19 PM

    The burden of proof for an employer to sanction, fire, or punish an employee is no where near the level of prosecuting a criminal act. For the media to keep acting like these punishments should be held to that level of burden of proof is absurd. No one has been arrested, and sorry, playing or coaching NFL football isn’t a right, it’s a privilege.

    Time to man up and accept the punishment.

  42. roadbiscuit says: Jun 21, 2012 10:20 PM

    Most teams don’t have their coaches hand out lists of targets associated with extra money. One list had Rodgers on it. Tape shows a concerted effort to go after his head on the first drive.

  43. hkemp99 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:25 PM

    Geez, Florio. Were you a defense attorney in your previous life? You’re breaking your neck to defend a bunch of jail-house lawyers. Guess you’re OK with the Shaggy/R. Kelly defense of “It wasn’t me.” Fine, let ‘em off on the bounty charges. Instead, let’s call the IRS …

  44. drunkwino says: Jun 21, 2012 10:25 PM

    I don’t honestly believe there are any but the most rabid Saints fans that would dispute for a second that there was a pay for plays pool, that it was againt the rules, and the Saints do deserve to be punished for that. It’s this whole lie about bounties for illegal plays and deliberate injuries that’s got us in pitchfork and torch mob mode.

  45. chad504boy says: Jun 21, 2012 10:26 PM

    Solid article, bountygate is semantic gate in which the NFL is trying to create a poster child but the problem is , the saints are unlike the entire NFL for the past 40 years with various degrees.

  46. jschwanny says: Jun 21, 2012 10:27 PM

    And if Fujita was asked in 2010 by the NFL whether he contributed money to any type of pay for hits type of program, what did he answer? Did he tell the NFL investigators about the money he paid for “cart-offs” and “knock-offs” or did he lie about it? If he lied, then he can’t be surprised that Goodell was ticked off about it and suspended him. And he can’t complain that Goodell is “judge, juror, and executioner” because Fujita was a Saints player rep who voted for that exact system in the last cba.

  47. sg419 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:28 PM

    Has Goodell stop beating his wife yet?

  48. thcnote says: Jun 21, 2012 10:30 PM

    So what your saying is the players got paid money if they knocked someone out of the game. Isn’t that what they are in trouble for?

  49. jackers252 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:30 PM

    lostsok:
    It’s gotta suck to be so scared of the Saints that you have to fall back on salary cap violations.

    I mean, of all the true salary cap violations we have seen in the past, do you honestly (and I mean honestly) think these punishments were warranted for simple salary cap violations?

    We get it, you (and most of the media) hate the Saints and gulped down the load of slop issued from the league. How’s it feel the be played like a drum?

  50. raysfan1 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:35 PM

    I keep hearing examples from specif games. Often these annectdotes would tend to exonerate the Saints. However, it seems to me there is a fairly simple (although more tedious than I plan to do) way to indicate whether there’s any real likelihood of systematic head-hunting by the Saints. Specifically, has anyone bothered to determine the injury rates for Saints opponents? If that rate is higher than the league average, then one could test for statistical significance. If the rates are not statistically significantly higher than those of the other NFL teams’ opponents, then it becomes clear that they aren’t acting appreciably differently from the rest of the league. If their rates are indeed higher, then the NFL front office’s assertions will carry more weight.

  51. roadbiscuit says: Jun 21, 2012 10:40 PM

    Sorry, Florio. I know you can see the difference between what the Saints org did and what other non-Williams teams have done. Plus the response to being told to stop was to continue. So it’s not a “bounty” because the NFL can’t prove a payment was made for a single act that was targeted by coaches? Yes, it was.

  52. roadbiscuit says: Jun 21, 2012 10:41 PM

    The NFL should get off the player’s backs. They’ve done right at the org level.

  53. jpspear says: Jun 21, 2012 10:49 PM

    This just in…the NFL has suspended a multitude of Saints players in a new pay-for-performance scheme. A shadowy figure named S. Claus in involved in an operation involving a “naughty or nice” ledger whereby players received gifts or cash in exchange for behavior incentives. Mary Jo White says that the use of the term “naughty” proves irrefutably that Saints players were trying to intentionally injure other players. Or elves. Or reindeer, it wasn’t clear. But she could have convicted them in any case.

  54. mwindle1973 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:50 PM

    Very silly argument…that players already get paid to hurt people with clean, legal hits. That’s not a problem, as long as you follow NFL rules and get your payment in the form of a contracted salary/bonus/incentive. Under the table payments have been against NFL rules since the salary cap was instituted. And rules against bounties have been in the rules for many years too. Pay for performance of any kind that is not an approved contract incentive is against the rules and subject to the discipline of the Commissioner. Plus how do we know that is the only evidence they possess against Fujita. The NFL said, here is a small sample. They never said here’s all the stuff we have on Fujita. And anyway they aren’t obligated to prove it to the public or the players at this point.

  55. roadbiscuit says: Jun 21, 2012 10:51 PM

    jackers252 , drop the “must be scared” cliche. Your coaches targeted my QB’s head and offered money. Your team’s org didn’t stop when it was told to. The burn on Payton, Loomis and Williams is appropriate. So are the draft penalties. I have a beef with punishing the players who had to work in that environment.

  56. winner2277 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:52 PM

    lostsok says: Jun 21, 2012 8:55 PM

    If players “were paid extra money for doing the jobs they already were paid to do” wouldn’t that be a salary cap violation?

    ________________________________

    If it were a salary cap violation, the arbitrator would have heard the appeal. Goodell made sure he did not list the accusations that way because he wanted to be judge, jury and executioner through the whole process. It’s only a salary cap violation if the team pays the players under the table for hits. If players do it amongst themselves, it is a pay for performance, but if the NFL wants to lessen the blow that they will suffer from the concussion lawsuit, then they will make up evidence or distort what they have to make it appear that team is running a bounty program, hence bounty gate.

  57. winner2277 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:56 PM

    hkemp99 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:25 PM

    Geez, Florio. Were you a defense attorney in your previous life? You’re breaking your neck to defend a bunch of jail-house lawyers. Guess you’re OK with the Shaggy/R. Kelly defense of “It wasn’t me.” Fine, let ‘em off on the bounty charges. Instead, let’s call the IRS …

    ______________________________

    As a matter of fact, Mike Florio IS an attorney that has passed the bar exam. Secondly, call the IRS, we welcome it, just like we will welcome your vikings into the dome to destroy them yet again.

  58. ilovefoolsball says: Jun 21, 2012 11:00 PM

    “usmutts says: The Czar has no pants.”

    Brilliant!

  59. j0esixpack says: Jun 21, 2012 11:09 PM

    We have a pattern here with Goodell*

    In 2007 the Patriots violated a rule regarding the location of a camera that was only put in place the year before.

    Goodell* acted like signal filming was the dastardly crime when he knew full well his rules allowed it and still do today. He postured righteously knowing that clueless fans would view him as the “protector” of football integrity, yet all of that too was a dog and pony show for a minor rule violation.

    The important thing to Roger is that he look good. When someone makes him look bad – watch out. Suspensions, fines and lost draft picks galore.

  60. saintsfan26 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:22 PM

    New Orleans Saints 2010 World Champions

  61. dretwann says: Jun 21, 2012 11:40 PM

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believe Goodell meant well when he became commish, but somewhere along the line, it went bad. It is sounding more and more that this thing isn’t as bad as we were 1st made to believe and it is unfortunate. Because now the trust in the league office will erode from the olayers (who had no trust in them to begin with) to the fans to the officials (how about that mess??). Even the best prosecutors out there no they can’t get everyone every time. Sometimes, smaller fish have to be let go to get at the bigger catch. He went for the trifecta: team, coaches and players but may end up with a big fat goose egg in the end.

  62. andrewproughcfe says: Jun 21, 2012 11:40 PM

    “It’s not that the Saints were trying to injure players. It’s that the Saints were offering extra money for big, clean, legal hits that advanced the pre-existing objective of victory through attrition, a concept that has been part of the game since the game was invented.”

    =================

    Isn’t this almost exactly what James Harrison has been saying for 2 full seasons now?

  63. slayer1224 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:51 PM

    I haven’t heard anything specific about Will Smith either.

  64. redstar504 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:58 PM

    Ok two things first off @Deb I get it basically in your view if the players don’t play for the Saints let them off the hook but if they still wear the black and gold throw the book at them. I have read a lot of your stuff during this and it’s obvious you dislike the saints and I hear that if we all liked the same squads the NFL would be boring. That said as far as the players go it is all or none you can’t cherry pick. None of the players deserve to be suspended period. The evidence is wishey washy at best. Furthermore as Mike pointed out the players were simply doing their jobs that includes Vilma as well as Scott.

    Secondly, the pay for performance system was players paying players so for the most part no CBA violations with respect to the players. The violations come in where coaches put up money and they deserve suspensions. The cover up deserves suspensions. Mickey and Payton deserved suspensions for CBA violations and lying to the NFL. The players did nothing wrong but do their jobs and do them well down the stretch in 2009. The hits on Brett were legal if they weren’t they should have been flagged in game.

    As to Joe Vitt he shouldn’t be suspended either he wasn’t in an overall leadership role his suspension considering it was proven he didn’t put money up should be nullified.

    The NFL needs a better system to sort thru this stuff. This scandal exposed a lot in regards to how the league office handles things. You can not have that much power consolidated in one man. This scandal is a case where things got personal and the comish overreacted on anger. The way the system works their was no check to independently verify the charges and handle the appeals. The NFL needs an independent arm to handle appeals.

  65. raiderinva says: Jun 21, 2012 11:59 PM

    I have heard one radio personality in particular on XM 88 NFL Radio continually mention that it is Rodger Goodell’s job to save the NFL from itself.

    The statement goes something like this: Pete Rozelle invented it, Paul Tagliabue developed it, and Rodger Goodell’s job is to save it….

    To see the reactions and opinions build to this story by so many of us that have no actual idea of the honest true facts reminds me ….

    In the dog days of summer when most people had forgotten about the NFL:
    Even Bad Publicity is Good Publicity….

  66. mdd913 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:00 AM

    raysfan1 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:35 PM

    I keep hearing examples from specif games. Often these annectdotes would tend to exonerate the Saints. However, it seems to me there is a fairly simple (although more tedious than I plan to do) way to indicate whether there’s any real likelihood of systematic head-hunting by the Saints. Specifically, has anyone bothered to determine the injury rates for Saints opponents? If that rate is higher than the league average, then one could test for statistical significance. If the rates are not statistically significantly higher than those of the other NFL teams’ opponents, then it becomes clear that they aren’t acting appreciably differently from the rest of the league. If their rates are indeed higher, then the NFL front office’s assertions will carry more weight.

    ————————————————————-
    To our knowledge only *one* offensive player has been “carted off” the field against the Saints in the seasons from 2009-2011 and that was offensive lineman Kareem McKenzie of the Giants who pulled his groin muscle.

  67. robf2010 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:08 AM

    At the bottom of all of this silliness resides your basic office pool. The punishments were off-the-charts excessive.

  68. cdsaints says: Jun 22, 2012 12:12 AM

    Any time I’m thirsty for some fresh viking tears I come to one of these threads…they’re always on tap and taste like sour grapes.

  69. marcinhouston says: Jun 22, 2012 12:21 AM

    Fujita is being suspended for being a prominent member of union leadership during the strike in which players dared to challenge Goodell and turn down his first offers. Anything else is just an excuse, he was low on the list of Saints connected to this case until the suspensions were actually handed down.

  70. whodatgirl1 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:47 AM

    I could have sworn that every player in the NFL was targeted.

    Isn’t that what game film is for? So that you can see your oppenents weaknesses and strengths?

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Also, in all the evidence that was released there was absolutely NO MENTION of bounties on Warner, Rodgers, or Newton.

  71. raidafan7 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:02 AM

    Has anyone ever thought that Brett Farve got battered and bruised because he hung onto the ball until the last possible millisecond? He took a beating because he held the ball too long. 2 weeks later in the Super Bowl 44 the Saints and their mean, “Cheating”, “Bounty” defense, didn’t come within 5 yards of Peyton Manning. It seems odd, they would have a “Bounty” on Farve and didn’t need any extra incentive for the biggest game of their lives. Not one hand written note, not one sideline video, not one murmur about the biggest game of the year.

  72. jfinn5 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:57 AM

    Fujita seems to me in my opinion typical bullying from management. Fujita was involved with the negotiations and Roger is trying to get back at him.

  73. ampking101 says: Jun 22, 2012 2:03 AM

    Wait so let me get this straight….the Saints were pooling money to be paid out for things like (and not limited to) “knocking” someone out of the game if even for anywhere from a single play to the whole game? That if I am correct in football lingo is in fact still an injury.

    Last time I checked what the NFL and Goodell (not the media) have accused the Saints of was a pay-for-injury system, I never explicitly read that they were making illegal hits, just rewarding injuries.

    Pay-for-performance including knocking someone from the game equates to a “bounty”. I fail to see where the NFL lied.

    This ladies and gentlemen is what we like to call the “media shark circus”. The media has twisted the words. Now did they accept the money? I have no clue. Is this proof that a pay-for-injury system was going on? I believe so. Just not in as explicit a way as we were led to believe.

    I know I’ll get thumbs down for this comment but as it now appears (if this is true) injuries (no matter how minor) were being rewarded financially (the NFL never stated they were rewarding for career ending injuries only).

    Cut all suspensions in half (keep greg williams suspension). Give back next years second round (they still deserved to have lost this seasons 2nd) and issue and apology to all parties involved for letting it turn into a bigger media circus than it needed to be.

  74. silentcount says: Jun 22, 2012 3:13 AM

    Mike, so far, you’re the only sports journalist who understands, and has put into words what this is REALLY all about. You would be the fairest arbitrator to hear the players’ appeal on Goodell’s original decisions. Heck, you’d make a better commissioner for that matter.

  75. rajuncajun28 says: Jun 22, 2012 7:12 AM

    The aggregate IQ of Saints haters* = the number of points scored by the Falclowns in their last playoff game…..

  76. realcoachjack says: Jun 22, 2012 7:34 AM

    This seems ( IS ) to be a salary cap violation in black and white against the laws and bylaws of the CBA. The problem is that some of the behind the scenes language, action and way of life showed its ugly head and created a MORAL dilemma for the BRAND of the NFL.

    I mean, really, in GW’s 20 plus years in the NFL no one has been apalled before at the way he speaks? No player? No coach? No front office executive? No secretary? Now everyone is coming out the woodwork condemming him.

    I even saw a homeless man with a sign under a bridge that said ” Greg (sic) Williams put a bounty on me, too. Please help” SMH

  77. anpsteel says: Jun 22, 2012 7:35 AM

    The goal in delivering big, clean, legal hits is to break the opponent’s will or, at a minimum, get him thinking not about doing his own job, but about avoiding another big, clean, legal hit.

    An unspoken (usually) goal of delivering big ,clean, legal hits is to make opposing players unavailable to play. As long as the big hit is clean and legal, there’s no rule (yet) against trying to hit a player so hard that he can’t keep playing.

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

    EXACTLY.

    From day 1, you are taught to “out-hit” your opponent. You out hit your opponent with intent to wear them down, and possibly put them out of the game. Not out of malice, but through designed attrition.

    Every Quarterback in the league knows that the other team is intent on taking them out of the game- pool or not.

    This whole bounty scam is a load of bs.

    The issue is the disregarded warnings, the lying, and the level of organizational involvement.

    The actual concept is in some aspect, the essence of the game.

    The sypgate scheme- which could significantly alter the outcome of games, is fundamentally much worse than anything the Saints did.

  78. whodatsaybaby says: Jun 22, 2012 7:37 AM

    This points out that the so called ”BOUNTY” was way overblown. Sure, I can say they might have a had a ”PAY FOR PERFORMANCE” on sacks, tackles, fumbles, hits, etc……between themselves. That’s like me telling a friend I’ll give you 10$ if you can throw a football 50 yards. If he does it, he gets the money. No harm there. Its just that if this was really the case here, the punishments handed by Roger ”GOD”dell are way to harsh. Now I’m not saying they shouldn’t have some form of punishment, but suspending players between 3 weeks to a year, coaches 6 weeks to a year, GM for 8 weeks, Team fine of $500,000.00, and two second round draft picks is purely nonsense. At most, it should have been a team fine around 500,000.00. Then again, I do like the fact that Roger is in hot water, and has a chance of being exposed for the D-BAG he really is.

  79. realcoachjack says: Jun 22, 2012 7:43 AM

    Goodell’s one job is to protect the NFL brand which is owned by 32 gentlemen. They are the only entity he is required to yield to. He is the front man for that cartel.

    Name 1 person in the NFL office that has even a drop of power. Billion dollar brand with 1 guy in charge and absolute say so. This is why the names on the back of the jerseys are removable and the emblem and colors are not.

  80. nflfan555 says: Jun 22, 2012 8:03 AM

    “Free Fujita” F the Saints

  81. shadeforourbattle says: Jun 22, 2012 8:03 AM

    thegreatgabbert says:
    Jun 21, 2012 9:03 PM
    “Uh, no one is forcing these guys to play in the NFL. No one is forcing the coaches to coach in the NFL. No one is forcing the franchise to be part of the NFL. You don’t like the rules, go somewhere else. You want to be part of the NFL, and earn NFL dollars, you play by the BLEEPING RULES OF THE LEAGUE.
    If they want all sorts equal rights protected by amendments, etc. etc. they can apply for them working in the construction industry or the service industry. Then they can whine.”

    Please tell me that you did not mean what you wrote. The United States Constitution is the Supreme Law of the United States of America. No other law, be it federal, state, or local supersedes it. ALL corporations and individuals in the United States MUST abide by it. Period. The NFL and the NFLPA can not negotiate a contract that violates the United States Constitution, and if they did, then the courts would deal with them. Things like the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution can not be negotiated away. The NFL and NFLPA could not have a legal contract that states that players are not allowed to be members or associate with any religious group. That would violate the US Constitution. ILLEGAL. UNCONSTITUTIONAL. GOT IT? It would appear that if what Mike Florio is questioning about this investigation is true, then the NFL has committed criminal acts with their Free Speech, and if individuals like Vilma desire to seek retribution against the NFL for the NFL’s criminal acts of abuse of Free Speech against them, then the US CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES THEM THAT RIGHT. You can not speak in the US if your speech is untrue and can be shown to have caused damages (that means $) to the individual that your speech was about. I’m sorry. I keep forgetting. You were sick the day they taught law at law school thegreatgabbert.

  82. sj39 says: Jun 22, 2012 8:26 AM

    joesixpack, after all these years you are still trying to convince yourself that the Patriots did not cheat. Sad.

  83. saints25 says: Jun 22, 2012 8:36 AM

    lostsok says:
    Jun 21, 2012 8:55 PM
    If players “were paid extra money for doing the jobs they already were paid to do” wouldn’t that be a salary cap violation?

    Someone should look into this…

    Maybe the Saints should be fined or something
    —————————————————————————————————-
    The NFL doesnt want this to be pay 4 performance or salary cap issue because There trying to keep fans from finding out that P4P been going on since the start of the NFL,and they would have to fine all 32 teams….Goodell we’ve always have known there was P4P in the NFL..

  84. Punk says: Jun 22, 2012 8:40 AM

    When you break it down into its parts there is definitely some thought that maybe this is all just a big misunderstanding.

    And then you remember watching the Saints-Vikings playoff game and how, during that game, we all said “WTF are they doing?!”

  85. dexterismyhero says: Jun 22, 2012 9:32 AM

    Wow, seems like we have a lot of anti-semantics here…….

  86. goodolebaghead says: Jun 22, 2012 10:01 AM

    Let me make this simple for those of you that don’t know why NOLA fans are so pissed.

    The NFL leveled serious charges against the Saints Org. and many of it’s players. They did publicly in an obvious attempt to manipulate the public and get them on the NFL’s side. They turned the WHOLE LEAGUE against NOLA and it’s fans. The mistake they made, was they hadn’t built a case what so ever. They had heresay, just like in the Loomis wiretapping case.

    Punishing the Saints for what they did wrong is appropriate. Over-punishing them and dragging their reputation through the mud was not. Now the room’s on fire and they are holding a bag that holds no water. Sorry, but if Goodell hadn’t overreacted in the first place, and been more discreet about his fact finding, none of this would have blown up like it did.

  87. bhindenemylines says: Jun 22, 2012 10:06 AM

    OMG!!!!!!!!

    This whole issue now gives me a headache everytime another article is written on it.

    In the words of the late Rodney King “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG???”

  88. MichaelEdits says: Jun 22, 2012 10:25 AM

    When the smoke clears, and all is said and done, Gregg Williams has a new job waiting for him, hosting JACKED UP.

  89. Punk says: Jun 22, 2012 10:50 AM

    goodolebaghead,

    Excellent post. I agree that Goodell continues overly respond to media pressure. Which is the opposite of leadership.

    At the same time I believe the Saints had a bounty program because I watched the Vikings and the Cardinals playoff games. My eyes told me at the time something was amiss.

    The Saints got punished severely in part to knock this thing that other teams also do out of the NFL way of life. Its harsh but a common tool in any organization whether it be the corporate world, the military or the sports world.

    For what its worth if I caused a stink that hit the newspapers I would be fired from my job whether or not it was right. That’s just the way it works. Bad Press = someone is losing their job.

  90. Punk says: Jun 22, 2012 10:58 AM

    During the Vikings game someone shouted something about money after a huge hit.

    In the Super Bowl nobody shouted about money after the Super Bowl winning interception.

  91. Punk says: Jun 22, 2012 11:08 AM

    saintsfan26 says:
    Jun 21, 2012 11:22 PM
    New Orleans Saints 2010 World Champions

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

    The Green Bay Packers might have something to say about that.

  92. infectorman says: Jun 22, 2012 11:10 AM

    @saints25:

    You sound eerily like NE fans when they accurately claimed that many if not all other teams were filming signals as well.

    Your only problem is that Haterville USA won’t EVER accept the “everybody’s doing it” defense.

    Decidedly pro-NO/anti-Goodell group of posters here.

    Still, no one has explained how anyone can get inside the head of an NFL player to know whether or not they had intent injure another player.
    How else are you going to knock an opposing player out of a game without injuring said player?

    We all agree that Defensive players have a common goal to knock an offensive opponent out of the game.
    Since it results in a clear advantage for your team for the rest of the game.
    Like I posted above, most, if not all defensive players will happily make the yardage penalty trade-off if it results in KO-ING the opposing QB.

    Yet, 2/3’s of you thumb’s down my post.

    What is the difference between a “pay-for-performance” program that urges knocking a player out of a game and “bounty’s? The end result is the same-gaining a competitive advantage.

    Whether you call it “pay-for-performance” of bounty’s is, wait for it…… SEMANTICS!!!

  93. gingerkid2000 says: Jun 22, 2012 11:57 AM

    NO Saints should just change their name to NO Semantics. It would be more honest.

  94. kodakinvegas says: Jun 22, 2012 12:54 PM

    Incentive, pay for performance outside of contractual agreement are against the rules for this Very reason. Get a life Mike. This type of “motivational incentive” is wrong and CAN lead to excessive injury occurrences. Totally unnecessary and cheapens the sport. Tacky and questionable best. Needs to be eliminated completely. It creates over zealousness and that could be dangerous for opponents as well as well as the players trying to make a kill shot, even though clean.

  95. deleeryus says: Jun 22, 2012 1:37 PM

    zn0rseman says:
    Jun 21, 2012 9:59 PM

    “That, to most football fans, should be the biggest concern and ultimately the real story behind the story. I want want my football pure, and frankly, after watching that game, it really doesn’t feel that it is anymore.”

    Then go watch golf…

  96. Deb says: Jun 22, 2012 4:30 PM

    redstar504 says:

    Ok two things first off @Deb I get it basically in your view if the players don’t play for the Saints let them off the hook but if they still wear the black and gold throw the book at them. I have read a lot of your stuff during this and it’s obvious you dislike the saints and I hear that if we all liked the same squads the NFL would be boring.
    ————————————————-
    No, you don’t get it. First, I don’t hate the Saints, and I rooted for them in the 2009 Super Bowl. I don’t think their championship is tainted and have never said anything remotely like what you’ve posted.

    I said the Saints coaches deserved their punishment for skirting the salary cap and violating NFL policy. And I said the league probably has a case against Vilma for offering a bounty on Favre–if they can prove he did that.

    However, I’ve said all along that anything the Saints players may have done should have been flagged and fined during those games and the league has no case against them now. What part of “enough already” did you fail to understand?

  97. cornersss says: Jun 26, 2012 12:28 PM

    “Good summary and precisely what I’ve been saying all along. The Saints were punished for doing what every team in the NFL is paid to do on defense.”

    And they got caught, and the players and coaches tried to lie ands say they dont do that stuff.

    Please… Its a job, your boss doesn’t need beyond reasonable doubt to know you did something wrong or to even fire you.

    Ill be honest, from the lockout to this crap my view on a lot of players has changed. Most seem very selfish and self centered that are more then willing to use fans to back up their flawed reasonings

  98. cornersss says: Jun 26, 2012 12:33 PM

    “Please tell me that you did not mean what you wrote. The United States Constitution is the Supreme Law of the United States of America.”

    You are wrong. The supreme court has ruled in the past that you dont have free speech at the work place on your bosses dime. Its why players and coaches get fined ALL THE TIME for saying something stupid or saying a ref made a bad call.

    So you are so very wrong, you dont have the same rights working as you do at home on your OWN TIME

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