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Vitt questions whether bounty evidence has been “falsified or tampered with”

New Orleans Saints OTA Getty Images

The floodgates officially are open.

After weeks of silence, which many believed was motivated by fear of additional sanctions from the league office, the coaches who have been suspended as part of the bounty/pay-for-performance program are beginning to speak out aggressively regarding the league’s case against players accused of offering, paying, or receiving money for inflicting injury.

It has begun with Saints interim head coach/assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt.  In the wake of Wednesday’s statement in which he expressed dismay over the sheet of paper that accuses him of putting up $5,000 for the alleged bounty on Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game, Vitt elaborated in remarks to Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“There’s gotta be some concerns from the league’s standpoint and anybody’s standpoint about the authenticity of any of these documents,” Vitt said regarding the key piece of paper that apparently lists the money pledged for the 2009 NFC title game.  “I think that’s a huge concern.  It looks like that document has been falsified or tampered with. What kind of credibility do they have if they take documents like that and show it to players?”

He’s right.  The one useful needle in the 50,000-page haystack contains a major flaw.  The notes prepared by a still-unknown person suggest that Vitt ponied up $5,000 to whoever knocked Favre out of the game.  So if as to Vitt the notes aren’t reliable, how are they reliable as to Jonathan Vilma (who is shown as kicking in $10,000) or anyone else?

The league has said that the offer appearing on the notes was corroborated by three people:  Gregg Williams, Mike Ornstein, and someone whom the league won’t name.  But Ornstein has said he didn’t tell the league Vilma had offered $10,000.

Williams hasn’t said anything, but there’s a chance Williams will be emboldened by Vitt’s decision to talk tough.

“I stated from Day 1 to investigators — and I hope they took good notes — our players have done nothing wrong. Nothing wrong,” Vitt said. “Our players never crossed the white lines with an intent to injure anybody.”

Apart from the issue of innocence or guilt (and as I’ll explain during and after today’s PFT Live the issue of guilt or innocence really is a question of semantics), Vitt has a problem with the league’s procedure for passing judgment on the players.

“The bylaws of the National Football League supersede the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights,” Vitt said.  While the players aren’t “on trial” in the criminal sense of the word (and thus not entitled to the protections of the Constitution), the fact remains that the NFL and the NFLPA have crafted a quasi-judicial procedure for handling matters of discipline without an outside person deciding whether the player did what he’s accused of doing.  And the procedure that the NFL administers must be fair and impartial, especially where the player loudly disputes the allegations against him.

Without a fair process, it’s impossible to get to the truth.  And so people like Vitt have taken matters into their own hands.

“The truth is starting to come out,” Vitt said.  “[W]e’re gonna keep fighting the fight. We’re not gonna back down.”

Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see whether Williams or anyone else follows Vitt’s lead in trying to get the truth out, whatever the truth may be.

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64 Responses to “Vitt questions whether bounty evidence has been “falsified or tampered with””
  1. PFTiswhatitis says: Jun 21, 2012 11:24 AM

    oh sure, the NFL falsifies documents to bring down the players and coaches that make them successful!

    Seriously which is more believable, that there was a bounty program or that the NFL is trying to frame players/coaches? It should be obvious to most people even with the Florio smokescreen.

  2. bullcharger says: Jun 21, 2012 11:25 AM

    Suddenly the NFL is falsifying documents to bring down one of it’s own teams? That’s just dumb and I don’t think it’s possible. If the NFL could have made this go away without any involvement they would have. New Orleans are the ones that didn’t heed the leagues warnings and addmitedly continued the program.

    The lawers are now drawing huge fees, convincing players and coaches to push back, question evidence and draw this thing out as long as possible.

    I don’t even think the bounty scandal is that bad. Players were paid to hit other players. Big deal. That’s what their salary is for anyway. The Saints broke the rules and have been punished. They should just take their lumps and move on.

    It’s getting really stupid now.

  3. dexterismyhero says: Jun 21, 2012 11:28 AM

    Go home Vitt.

    Biggest bunch of crybabies.

    Oh, but wait until he goes after your team……

    You are just jealous because the Saints beat your team…

    If they played for your team you would love them….

    Blah…..Blah…Blah

  4. truthfactory says: Jun 21, 2012 11:28 AM

    Vitt said. “Our players never crossed the white lines with an intent to injure anybody.”
    ———————–

    Are we to ignore the Williams audio directing players to kill the head and go for the ACL???

    I hear a lot of these guys complain that there isnt any “proof”, but I cant think of very many times where they directly state “no one ever offered money to injure other players”.

    That is what they are being punished for, but their counter claims seem to revolve around things like “I never INTENDED to pay…”, or “where is the proof?”, or “the evidince has been tampered with”… All those statements may be techincally true, but it still doesnt mean that money was never OFFERED. That is what they are being accused of and being punished for, but rarely is that claim ever directly addressed or denied explicitly and unequivically.

  5. bigjdve says: Jun 21, 2012 11:29 AM

    Well first off Vitt is lying when he says that they have done nothing wrong.

    A pay for play program is illegal in the NFL, it is against the rules of the NFL and the CBA.

    With regards to the evidence, the NFL stated that mention of Vitt on the notes wasn’t corroborated thus they didn’t pursue it. That lends to typically any reasonable person that it would mean that it
    means that the other names mentioned were.

    That being said, in a FAIR view of the the evidence that has been “SHOWN”, there is reasonable doubt as to the validity of the evidence. At this point if I am Vilma or any of the players suspended I call Goodell arrange a meeting. Go into the meeting with closed doors, and tell him, “Hey this looks bogus, I would like to see the corroborating evidence”.

    I think the players would get further that way then this posturing in the media. Goodell isn’t going to back down with a coach who doesn’t have all of his facts straight with players that can’t keep their stories straight. They may be right but they won’t win this type of engagement.

  6. mdd913 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:30 AM

    That’s what Goodell gets. He wanted his pound of flesh but he went too far.

  7. brenenostler says: Jun 21, 2012 11:34 AM

    And then Roger Goodell will ask to see evidence

  8. mdd913 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:39 AM

    bullcharger says: Jun 21, 2012 11:25 AM

    Suddenly the NFL is falsifying documents to bring down one of it’s own teams?

    ————————————————————–

    They were caught red-handed when they mischaracterized Hargrove’s original statement. They were caught red-handed again when the ledgers they leaked to the press didn’t match up to any injuries….twice.

    Why should we believe anything else they say?

  9. jsotis76 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:43 AM

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting the NFL falsified any documents. But their informant – possibly Mike Cerullo, who had an axe to grind with the Saints – may have falsified or manufactured documents, and the NFL fell for it. So in the end it was a huge coincidence: the NFL was ready for someone to take the fall with the pending concussion class action, they found a willing informant with a chip on his shoulder, and the saints have this bellicose DC who uses violent language that amounted to a lot of smoke but no fire. The NFL jumped to conclusions based on a shoddy investigation and now they are going to pay for it.

  10. pftfanatic says: Jun 21, 2012 11:45 AM

    Quick note to those who are asking “Why would the NFL falsify documents.” Vitt did not directly say the NFL doctored them. He could be suggesting that a “source” provided the false documents, which the NFL is now relying on. Food for thought.

  11. pallidrone says: Jun 21, 2012 11:46 AM

    Of course Vitt will say this, he still has to coach these guys.

    If he undermines the teammates of the Saints in the media, it could backlash against him when he is coaching them next year.

    By saying this, he at least is saying that he has their back and tried to protect them in the media.

    It is a simple PR move to show the new coach has the players back through thick and thin.

  12. itwasagoodrun says: Jun 21, 2012 11:47 AM

    Probably so, but that still doesn’t change the fact of the filth that Williams uttered during his locker room rant and the undeniable fact that he and others admitted to wrongdoing.

    The fact that all these “spineless” defensive players sat back and listened to this reckless non-sense only furthers the notion that they just followed orders like sheep and that makes them ignorant, spineless and ultimately culpable.

    The best part about this will be when these same mouth breather defensive players file a class action lawsuit against the NFL for damage done to their feeble craniums.

  13. brenenostler says: Jun 21, 2012 11:47 AM

    The answer is no. But now people are gonna believe it because idiots like Vitt ask questions like these.

    If Vitt and the suspended players had any class at all, they would have just apologized for the bounty program and accepted the punishment, and they wouldn’t look so bad.

  14. lightcleric says: Jun 21, 2012 11:50 AM

    I don’t think the allegation is “The NFL took out the Saints for no reason(this would be dumb), but “The NFL is making this look worse than it was so they can say ‘Problem solved, more along'” and kick some dirt over it like they do with every problem.

  15. hrmlss says: Jun 21, 2012 11:54 AM

    Revoke the franchise. Obviously there is such a culture of deceit and lying down there it can only be cleaned up with a complete house cleaning. Oh and ban all their players from the league, they are obviously tainted with the stench of the Saints. Saints, what a joke. Minions would be a better name. Put a pitchfork on the helmets. Flames on the uni’s. That would actually be cool….

  16. ericflynt says: Jun 21, 2012 11:54 AM

    So, does the NFL have anything left? The confessions, the Ornstein emails, the Hargrove audio, the ledgers, and now this most damning piece of evidence of the Favre bounty, have all been thoroughly and factually debunked. The NFL has shown us absolutely NOTHING that can stand up against the tiniest bit of public scrutiny. Literally, the only thing they have is their own word that something happened. But they have nothing left to base it on.

    Use whatever analogy you want (WMD’s, Duke LaCrosse, etc.), they’re standing over a smoke machine, screaming “Fire.” It’s time to rescind the suspensions, give the Saints a slap on the wrist for running a harmless “Pay for Performance” program, and give Gregg Williams a slightly harder slap for using violent language/imagery as a motivational tool. And then move on.

  17. saints97 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:54 AM

    If the NFL has concrete evidence, now might be the time to bring it forward. Well, actually that time should have been a long time ago.

    I love how many of you are of the opinion that the Saints did something wrong (I actually agree with this statement) and that the individual players should just have class and accept their punishment.

    What if these individual players did not commit the crimes they are being punished for? Is it not entirely possible that a select group of people did something wrong, and that many players were, in fact, not involved? I know these guys are rich, but taking away someone’s livelihood because of guilt by association is pretty ignorant.

  18. iamwhodat says: Jun 21, 2012 11:58 AM

    @truthfactory the coaches were suspended before the G.Williams audio came out. And secondly are we really going to take that audio literally… the only crime in that speech were G.W words, b/c the only player injured in that game was in fact a Saints player w/ dare I say a concussion.. How ironic? The Saints should be punished for a “pay for performance” system, but to say they ran a “bounty” system is a little overblown on the NFL’s part. I guessed they thought the players were going just take their punishment and keep quiet just like the coaches. They didn’t even show the coaches the evidence how effed up is that… And now Goodell is fighting to save face, but I don’t think he really has the “smoking gun” he originally thought he had.

  19. jsotis76 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:00 PM

    Apologize for something you didn’t do and accept a punishment you don’t deserve. Seems fair.

  20. mackie66 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:03 PM

    Never believed the NFLs accusations against the Saints players, coaches etc, etc.
    Theres been NO evidence, NO nothing except talk and talk is cheap. Goodell has set himself as chief cook and bottle washer, et al. And he aint that smart.
    After Senator Durbin added his two cents, Im know positive the NFLs case is bogus or at best driven by hearsay, and rumor. Bullsh**. Its all Bullsh**. Ive been an NFL (Dolphin) fan since black and white games and loved the Giant/Packer game 1959 or 60, cant remember. This is not your grand daddys NFL anymore, its ugly. Pete Roselle would turn over in his grave the see this crap know as pro football.
    Get rid of Goodell before there is no NFL.

  21. purpleguy says: Jun 21, 2012 12:05 PM

    This is what happens when individuals are in their own little myopic worlds with a bunch of “yes” people gathered around them, never taking the time to gain perspective from 10,000 feet. You see the same thing with convicts in prison filing appeal after appeal on technical crap, when it’s clear as day they did the underlying deed. Vitt ain’t clean. Shut up and take your medicine.

  22. genericuser8888 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:06 PM

    The Saints had a pay for performance program and a defensive coordinator who trashed talked and used a lot of strong language. They also defied the league and kept the pfp program after being warned. They deserve some punishment. Did Vilma and Payton deserve a full season? No. Did they deserve a full season, especially based on the evidence that we have seen so far? Hell no.

    They did not have a pay to injure program. Goodell went on TV and said point blank that there was a pay to injure program. The single piece of evidence that looks the worst, the evidence Vitt is upset about, could have been falsified by a disgruntled ex employee. The league did not perform due diligence on the evidence. I hope things get nasty for the league. The level of arrogance that Goodell demonstrated by giving out these punishments on such soft evidence is silly.

  23. ilovefoolsball says: Jun 21, 2012 12:06 PM

    Judging by the comments so far on this post I can see that many of you chose to be PFT commenters instead of getting your high school diploma. You made a wise choice my friend!

    The NFL made a huge deal about this publicly using the media to lambast the Saints repeatedly.
    Now things aren’t going their way and they’re going to try to downplay the whole thing. Goodell let the genie out of the bottle and that bad boy ain’t going back in.

  24. VegasKJ says: Jun 21, 2012 12:07 PM

    Mr. Goodell, transparency will get you everywhere. You’re just inviting wild speculation from the media/fans and an avenue for denial and obfuscation by the coaches and players involved if you in fact have 50k pages of “overwhelming” evidence.

    I know sometimes very successful people have to be total control freaks, but your reputation now precedes you.

    I am still inclined to believe your side more than the players and coaches at this point, but that is waning. If you’ve got the goods on these bounties, well:

    “Show me the Money!”

  25. thcnote says: Jun 21, 2012 12:07 PM

    I don’t think the players tried to hurt other players anymore than any other team. But If they did they got bounty for it and that is where the problem lies. If you don’t think that was the case then you are dumb.

  26. jasonvining says: Jun 21, 2012 12:14 PM

    brenenostler is the definition of ignorance.

  27. drozman says: Jun 21, 2012 12:16 PM

    Please go to trial. I can’t wait to hear the stories change when under oath. The NFL has a source they want to keep confidential for probably the sources career and safety. Once that is no longer possible due to discovery these players and coaches will look silly. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a player that has been denying the bounty to protect himself from scrutiny.

  28. jameslongstaffe says: Jun 21, 2012 12:18 PM

    We’ll see what happens, but you can look at this both ways… (1) The Saints are innocent & held their silence until the evidence came forward, as advised by legal counsel. or (2) The Saints are guilty & held their silence until they understood the evidence is under dispute, at which point it makes sense to deny all allegations. In the end, if the NFL has truly corrupted the evidence, or relied on poor sources… where is the motive to cause all this trouble? I am not convinced that this is related to the concussion lawsuit, because I do not think this ruling will have any bearing on that lawsuit & find it difficult to believe that the NFL would have considered this the “best” way to handle the situation. But I don’t know, I don’t have much respect for people that can lie through the front teeth & clearly somebody is not telling the truth. Perhaps this needs to be sorted out in a court of law where lying under oath can land yourself in prison.

  29. therealhardt says: Jun 21, 2012 12:22 PM

    vitt needs to shut up and just coach…I still can’t understand how the saints made him interrim coach after his vicodin stealing incident a few years ago…shows you just how ethical the franchise is…I hope brees holds out all year…but then again, that idiot and that idiot franchise deserve each other….

  30. gerttownmomo says: Jun 21, 2012 12:22 PM

    If the NFL could have made this go away without any involvement they would have.

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

    the only problem with this argument is something i have said before.

    how much did we hear about spygate until the punishments were passed? VERY LITTLE

    goodell has played out this ‘bountygate’ thing in the press since day 1 (actually march 2, 2012). he used the media to further his agenda. who cares if he forged a few documents and put words in people’s mouths. the public already thinks the saints are despicable, so goodell can’t possibly lie!

    we’re a very short minded public. he’s protecting BILLIONS of dollars. even if it is found to be the truth that he has doctored the evidence, how long do you think the public will remember it? he’ll get fired, the nfl will apologize and jersey and psl sales will go through the roof.

    sheep

    we are all sheep!

  31. truthfactory says: Jun 21, 2012 12:23 PM

    iamwhodat says: Jun 21, 2012 11:58 AM

    @truthfactory the coaches were suspended before the G.Williams audio came out. And secondly are we really going to take that audio literally… the only crime in that speech were G.W words, b/c the only player injured in that game was in fact a Saints player w/ dare I say a concussion.. How ironic? The Saints should be punished for a “pay for performance” system, but to say they ran a “bounty” system is a little overblown on the NFL’s part. I guessed they thought the players were going just take their punishment and keep quiet just like the coaches. They didn’t even show the coaches the evidence how effed up is that… And now Goodell is fighting to save face, but I don’t think he really has the “smoking gun” he originally thought he had.
    ——————

    Yes, I would take it literally. He repeated several times “go for the ACL”. That is not a metaphor or something to be taken likely. ACL injuries can end a pkayers career and that disgusting audio makes it clear they were INTENDING to hurt pkayers. The mistake that you and so many others make is that because no one got hurt, there must not have been intent.

    That is so wrong, people are in jail for years for attempted murder, yet failed to pull it off. People get in a car and drive everyday and some can unintentionally get killed in an accident. You dont look at the end result to see if there was a crime, you look for intent. There is a snitch that ratted them out, and also some very compelling audio that cooborates the “snitch”. Where theres smoke, theres fire.

    I understand players and coaches are going to poke holes in the evidence, but again… That doesnt equal innocence. OJ Simpson, and Roger Clemens lawyers did a great job at poking holes in evidence, but few people with common sense would believe they were innocent.

    The CBA was written so that Goodell can use common sense rather than technicalities to punish people as he see’s fit. If they didnt like it, they shouodnt have signed the CBA or taken less money to get that changed…

  32. jml4343 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:27 PM

    So tired of these conspiracy theorists. Someone explain the benefits Goodell would get from setting up a few players from the Saints as “fall guys”?
    Is it more plausible that Goodell would do this or that violent money hungry athletes/coaches would incentivize team members to knock out a player which would yield two things—-having their monsterous egos fed and higher base salaries on next contract for success based on said players being knocked out of games.

    Stop with the “fight the man” concept and realize Goodell is trying to build a game built on honor and value.

  33. jasonvining says: Jun 21, 2012 12:31 PM

    @truthfactory
    So because GW told all the players to “go for the ACL,” that makes all the players guilty of intentionally trying to injure someone? I mean seriously, how do you put blame on anyone other than Gregg Williams? And it’s the spoken word, it doesn’t mean the players actually went out there trying to go for his ACL.

  34. jschwanny says: Jun 21, 2012 12:43 PM

    The Saints coaches and players are being punished as much for participating in the bounty cover up as for participation in the actual bounty program. And there is clear evidence (sworn statement by Anthony Hargrove) that Vitt told him to “play dumb” when NFL investigators asked him in 2010 about the bounty program. Vitt supplies nothing to counter the evidence that he covered up the bounty program and misled NFL investigators. That alone warrants his suspension.

  35. kodakinvegas says: Jun 21, 2012 12:48 PM

    Dear Uncle Rodg,

    For quite a while now I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about bounties and at first I was pretty sure you had the tiger by the tail. Eh, it’s not looking real good real good Uncle Rodg, I think maybe you really should put some SERIOUS STUFF out there to blow the lid off and shut everybody up and back everybody off or you’re gonna be in a pretty serious PR mess. If you’ve got em, take em down, if not, you’d better find a way to slide out of this crap. I’ve been against Florio and his sensation gang from day one but it’s looking bad for you dude. Take them out or you’re gonna regret it pretty soon. They’re starting to in effect stand up in numbers. Not good, Bud. Bows the time to take the kill shot. If you have one. Even I’m tired of YHE he said, she said crap. Do it Now Rodger

  36. dannyabramowitz says: Jun 21, 2012 12:50 PM

    Guys, think about all the red flags here:

    Goodell states that there are 50,000 pages of evidence of a bounty system.

    Goodell later revises it to 20,000 pages.

    At the hearing, Goodell produce 200 pages of alleged evidence, most of which are materials generated AFTER THE SUSPENSIONS WERE IMPOSED.

    Early on, Goodell states that the main piece of evidence establishing a bounty system is Anthony Hargrove’s written declaration. Then the declaration comes out and there is no admission of a bounty system.

    The NFL’s lead investigator resigns unexpectedly and Goodell waits until late on a Friday to dump the news.

    Goodell feels compelled to hire a former prosecutor to convince the media that there is evidence, but he won’t release any evidence. The prosecutor is paid by the league and has been paid in the past by the league.

    Goodell is late in producing evidence to the players before their appeals hearing in violation of the CBA.

    At the hearing, Goodell asserts that Vitt contributed $5000 to the bounty pool against Favre. Vitt calls Goodell to complain that it’s untrue and Goodell retracts that claim the next day.

    Goodell asserts that there are handwritten notes allegedly reflecting payments, but won’t produce the notes, only transcriptions. No one knows who wrote the notes or if they were accurately transcribed. Goodell has admitted that the notes are FALSE at to payments by Vitt.

    The league asserts that Hargrove said “give me my money” after Favre was knocked out. But it turns out that Hargrove wasn’t involved in the play and it’s not his voice. A teammate has stated that Hargrove did not say it.

    Goodell leaks an ledger allegedly showing bounty payments, but the ledger doesn’t even match up to the games played and Goodell doesn’t even rely on it at the hearing.

    Goodell altered Greg Williams’ statement. Still, Williams does not admit to a bounty system, only a pay for performance system.

    This whole “investigation” is a SHAM. Goodell should be ashamed and should resign or be forced out. He is turning the NFL into a joke.

  37. skodi says: Jun 21, 2012 12:57 PM

    saints97 says:
    Jun 21, 2012 11:54 AM
    If the NFL has concrete evidence, now might be the time to bring it forward. Well, actually that time should have been a long time ago.

    I love how many of you are of the opinion that the Saints did something wrong (I actually agree with this statement) and that the individual players should just have class and accept their punishment.

    What if these individual players did not commit the crimes they are being punished for? Is it not entirely possible that a select group of people did something wrong, and that many players were, in fact, not involved? I know these guys are rich, but taking away someone’s livelihood because of guilt by association is pretty ignorant.

    ——————- Those innocent players sure didnt stand up and proclaim it wrong or do anything to stop it. As for guilt by association comment, See Pacman Jones verdict.

  38. ksm31311 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:58 PM

    I am waiting for similar statement from Tom Benson, Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton…

  39. lawless313 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:04 PM

    This has gotten absurd. At this point, if you don’t have serious questions and doubts about the NFL’s official “investigation”, it’s because you’re either not following the story very closely or because, deep down, you just want it to be true…and those people are hopeless.

  40. pfpjschulz says: Jun 21, 2012 1:10 PM

    So much anger and rage in a worthless city that the best thing it is known for is girls gone wild. Why don’t all you Bayou inbred jumble talking Saints fans just deal with the facts that the ‘Aints are marching back in?

  41. walleyejon says: Jun 21, 2012 1:11 PM

    The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The problem is that both sides are so far apart we’ll never get there.

  42. jonny42671 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:16 PM

    What a pathetic Franchise and fan base. The NFL gave them their Championship because of Katrina, and they still can’t stop crying!

  43. jazz321 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:22 PM

    What does Goodell have to benefit? Even if he loses a courst case against Vilma, he can say he is trying to do all he can to protect players, including going to court to protect them.

    As a Saint fan, I do believe the coaches got out of hand. Their punishment is mainly for lying and trying to cover the pay for performance program. Yes all teams have such a program, but I doubt the amount of money the Saints players were putting up matched any other team. Coaches should not have allowed the program to grow to the size it was, nor should they have contributed any money to the fund. Players make side bets in all sports. They should have left it up to the players.

    As for the player penalties, it appears they are getting a raw deal. There is no video evidence that shows the players, over the last three years, purposely played to injure another play or play beyond the norm that we would see each Sunday. Yeah, there is an occasional late hit, but not on a regualr basis or any more than the average on any given Sunday. Was Favre targeted? You bet. There incentive was not the money but the Super Bowl. Other than Favre, the NFL said other QBs were targeted. How many were knocked out a of a game? ZERO, which leads to one of two conclusions; 1) the Saints defense was so bad they could not even carry out orders correctly or 2) they were not playing to target and injure a player (as Gregg Williams was preaching).

    As for Favre, I would bet there were millions of fans from other NFL cities who at the time loved seeing him get hit over and over again, especially in Green Bay and New York. Revenge is sweet!

    Anyway, the Commish should come out and restate that the coaches punishment will not change but in light of new evidence, the players suspensions are being withdrawn. That will happen when Hell freezes over. Of course that is what was said by many a Saints fan prior to 2009.

  44. jason1980 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:26 PM

    It is NOT far fetched to conclude that the NFL has falsified documents, look at everything that has been put forth thus far, there are flaws and inconstitentcies in every piece of the league evidence to this date. Goddell has leaked evidence at every turn, then hours later have to retrack info, and say oops, my bad, we were wrong, on EVERY MAJOR PIECE OF EVIDENCE SO FAR. Now you Goddell slurpers can stick your heads in the sand if you want too, but hating the Saints and hoping for their demise will not make this investigation by the NFL anymore credible. That ship has sailed, Goddell has blown this investigation, and the only decent thing left to do is rescind these suspensions, and get their in-house investigative arm up to exceptable standards. They are a billion dollars industry, there is NO excuse for this type of shabby work, when employees livelihoods are at stake. For those of you who say, the Saints should shut up and take their punishment when there’s no evidence to suggest they did what they are being accused of, that’s just silly and practically doesn’t warrant a response during intelligent discourse.

  45. PFTiswhatitis says: Jun 21, 2012 1:28 PM

    pftfanatic
    Quick note to those who are asking “Why would the NFL falsify documents.” Vitt did not directly say the NFL doctored them. He could be suggesting that a “source” provided the false documents, which the NFL is now relying on. Food for thought.
    ————————————-
    The NFL did not depend on one document or even a few from one person. They conducted a thorough investigation (over years) along with multiple interviews. They have confessions, audio recordings, email conversation in addition to documents. All of that paints a pretty clear picture.
    Now the guilty bozos have the nerve to complain and try to weasel out of their punishment instead of standing up like MEN and taking responsibility for what they have done.
    Was the punishment over the top? Maybe, maybe not. But that should be the real discussion here not whether anything actually occurred.

  46. hempoilcures says: Jun 21, 2012 1:33 PM

    Makes me laugh that people still trust in “the powers that be” to tell us the truth and not have an agenda. Look around people, what do you see? I see lying politicians EVERYWHERE, I see lying media that spoons up lies to drooling watchers everyday. I see league commissioners lying all the time, Stern, Bettman, Selig (what do they have in common?). And STILL, the sheeple cry “what would they gain by lying”…..well look at how brainwashed you are…you still believe them = fools.

  47. sdave1971 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:44 PM

    @truthfactory
    I want you to go out and kill someone. Now you’re guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. Sounds silly, right? Just because someone tells you to do something doesn’t mean you are guilty of a crime.

    As far as, all the idiots who keep saying that people believe the NFL is falsifying evidence, try and get this through your head. No one is saying the NFL is falsifying evidence, we are saying a disgruntled employee falsified evidence and the NFL ran with it without scrutinizing the evidence.

  48. lolb23 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:45 PM

    Saints will be lucky to win 7 games this year dealing with this daily drama all season.

  49. winner2277 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:50 PM

    Examining the Flaws of BountyGate’s Evidence
    If you thought I had truly closed the casket on this thing, then you’re probably not fully aware of how pathologically obsessive I have the propensity to be. I’m sure this isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I digress.

    With that said, and with the new information that’s continued to surface this week, I’ve exhumed this BountyGate corpse until further notice.

    In the hopes of keeping this as succinct as possible–which will surely be a fruitless task–I’m going to examine a variety of the NFL’s public claims and illustrate the known, gaping flaws in each one.

    This post is mostly intended as an extension of this original post, so there’s a bit of overlapping content.

    Here goes. INRATS? You’ve been forewarned.

    *1) ALLEGATION: The NFL’s Original Statement, claiming a three-year bounty program:

    A lengthy investigation by the NFL’s security department has disclosed that between 22 and 27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints, as well as at least one assistant coach, maintained a “bounty” program funded primarily by players in violation of NFL rules during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons, the NFL announced today.

    >1) FLAW: First, if the NFL’s investigation was so comprehensive and airtight, why couldn’t they identify exactly how many players were involved? Why the nebulous range? More importantly, why were only four players punished if, at the least, 22 were involved?

    Additionally, nowhere in any of the evidence the NFL has disclosed is there any indication of misdeeds occurring during 2010. The only accusations beyond those in 2009 (three games) are an alleged bounty on Aaron Rodgers in the opening game of 2011 season (more on these games later). How does this constitute violations for three consecutive seasons?

    *2) ALLEGATION: More from SI’s Peter King in his original report on the scandal:

    Goodell is angry about this sustained use of paying players to hurt players on other teams. “The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for performance, but also for injuring opposing players,” Goodell said in a league statement Friday afternoon.

    >2) FLAW: Where has “sustained use” to “hurt players” ever been shown? Moreover, what opposing players were ever deliberately injured? And who was paid for doing so? Does anyone know the answer to these simple questions? Or is it just some baseless PR drivel the NFL hopes to pawn off as truth?

    The evidence presented on Monday indicates money exchanged for performance benchmarks–legal plays–but what “payments for injuring opposing players” have been shown to exist? The NFL is still yet to verify this claim with on-field proof, corroborated by documentation of payment. Even if one player was targeted in one game, it is not evidence of a three-year, pay-to-injure scheme.

    *3) ALLEGATION: Anthony Hargove’s Declaration verifies existence of a bounty program.

    Initially, the NFL presented Anthony Hargrove’s “declaration” as proof that a bounty system existed. Specifically, the NFL’s hired gun, Mary Jo White, said this about Hargrove’s declaration. Emphases mine:

    There hasn’t been any denial of the existence of that program. One of the Saints players (current Packers DE Anthony Hargrove) who was disciplined yesterday actually submitted a declaration in which he acknowledged that the program existed, acknowledged his participation and admitted that he lied to the NFL investigators in 2010.

    >3) FLAW: When Hargrove’s declaration was subsequently made public by Yahoo!, we learned that Hargrove actually said this, verbatim. Again, emphasis mine:

    The NFL security personnel then asked several questions about whether there was a bounty program, whether Saints’ players contributed money to a bounty pool, and whether I had ever received bounty money. In response to these questions, I followed the clear directions I had received from Coach Williams and Coach Vitt, and I repeatedly denied any knowledge of any bounty or bounty program.

    No matter how you interpret what Hargrove said, it’s (ahem) proof that he denied the existence of a bounty program when the NFL just days prior said he “acknowledged that the program existed, [and] acknowledged his participation in it.” Which, of course, he didn’t.

    Why would the NFL publicly lie about this? Were they not anticipating this document being leaked to the public? Were they trying to deceitfully sway public opinion by delivering what now appear to be stark, transparent falsehoods?

    Furthermore, Hargrove responded to the NFL’s initial characterization of his statements by saying the NFL “grossly mischaracterized [his] words.”

    *4) ALLEGATION: Anthony Hargrove on video, demanding bounty payment.

    Initially, the NFL accused Anthony Hargrove of asking for a bounty payment related to a hit on Brett Favre in the NFC Championship game during the 2009 season.

    Months ago, Peter King reported that Hargrove was overheard on camera saying “Pay me my money!” Later the NFL claimed Hargrove said “Bobby, give me my money!” For whatever reason, Hargrove’s alleged words were either altered, misinterpreted, or falsified.

    >4) FLAW: Even if you’re unconcerned with the disparity in the descriptions of what Hargrove was accused of saying, Hargrove took to the streets on Monday and stridently defended himself by delivering a lengthy statement in front of NFL headquarters. In part, about the demand for payment in that game, he said:

    I felt similar to how I had felt when I read the NFL’s statement about my declaration. Bewildered …

    The NFL has a sideline shot of our defense gathered around Joe Vitt discussing what we might should expect if the backup quarterback comes into the game. It shows me off to the side with some of our other defensive linemen on the bench with their backs to the camera. The final snippet has an arrow pointed at me with the caption indicating that I had said, “give me my money.”

    Here’s the problem with that. It wasn’t me. That’s right. The NFL got their evidence all wrong. In their rush to convict me, they made a very serious error. Is it intentional? I don’t know. But one thing I do know with absolute certainty…it…was…not…me!

    Like I said, lean in closer, look closer, listen closer. It is not my voice. Anyone who knows me well knows that it is not me. But the NFL does not know me well. They simply make assumptions.

    Furthermore, on Wednesday an ex-Saint came to Hargrove’s defense. Earl Heyman, a Saints’ player during the ’09 season, had this to say:

    I was right there, right there in that closeup [of the defensive huddle] they’re talking about … Every time they came off the field I was standing right there talking to them, and I know who said it, and I can say with 100 percent accuracy who said it, and I know 100 percent it wasn’t Anthony.

    So why did the NFL get this wrong? Why was Hargrove implicated? Did they believe Hargrove was an easy target for coercion because he’s twice violated the NFL’s drug policy? Did they select him as a participant because he’d likely fear for his career prospects if he didn’t go along with the allegations? Did they decide to incriminate him with these words because there’s another video–shown far and wide–of Hargrove shouting on the sideline “Favre is done!” after a particularly vicious hit?

    Twice the NFL has publicly accused Hargrove of something and twice they’ve wholly misrepresented it. Doesn’t this call into question the quality of the NFL’s investigation as a whole? If not, doesn’t it at least undermine the authenticity of the public characterizations of what they’ve claimed as evidence?

    *5) ALLEGATION: The Saints kept a ledger detailing bounty payments.

    In early June, Yahoo! broke a seemingly explosive story about a ledger that documented bounty payments. The original story from Yahoo! (via league sources) indicated that “bounty” payments were paid after the Saints-Giants game in 2009 and the Saints-Buffalo game in 2009.

    >5) FLAWS: Where to start? First, soon after Mike Florio (along with numerous Saints’ fans) caught onto the fact there wasn’t anything questionable about the Bills’ game, PFT reported it as a fraudulent claim, and the NFL immediately amended its report. Oops. Oh yeah, it wasn’t the Buffalo game, it was actually the Carolina game in 2009! Sorry guys, honest mistake!

    Soon after that, The Angry Who Dat blog further debunked the claim of bounties in the Carolina game and Mike Florio reported on AWD’s yeoman’s effort and backed his sentiments.

    To make matters worse, the NFL also claimed that the ledger indicated that Roman Harper was paid $1000 for knocking Brandon Jacobs out of the 2009 game against the Giants. However, Jacobs only went out of the game momentarily after a clean, legal tackle by Darren Sharper (look at the play-by-play starting at 12:40 of the 2nd quarter). Ultimately, that allegation didn’t mesh with its original public implication nor did it indicate any sort of malice or intent to injure.

    Again, what we have is a series of allegations later proven to be fatally flawed or just outright wrong. Is the NFL really this incompetent? Or are they just hoping that the players and the public will capitulate to their barrage of half-truths?

    Ultimately, in the case of the “ledger”–a piece of evidence Yahoo’s Jason Cole said could be “extremely damning to the players’ cause”–the NFL failed to even submit this, just as they chose not to submit Hargrove’s Declaration, as official evidence to the NFLPA.

    Specious. If not completely fabricated.

    *6) ALLEGATION: Mike Ornstein offered a $5000 bounty on Aaron Rodgers in 2011.

    Initially, the NFL claimed they were in possession of an email from Mike Ornstein, sent to Sean Payton, pledging a bounty on Aaron Rodgers in 2011.

    >6) FLAW: Two months later, when the complete contents of Ornstein’s email were revealed, we learned that this email wasn’t sent to Sean Payton but rather to Saints’ spokesman Greg Bensel, who then forwarded the email to several Saints’ coaches.

    Further, the lengthy email touched on a variety of subjects and included the bounty pledge as a postscript, one Ornstein insisted was a running joke for years among coaches after accusations of the Favre bounty.

    As I previously discussed here, no matter Ornstein’s credibility, the discrepancy between what the NFL initially reported and the actual truth reveals a continued effort by the NFL to alter events into something more damning and concrete in order to bolster their tenuous body of evidence.

    The continuing act of evident prevarication is tacit admission by the NFL that their case is exceptionally weak.

    *7) ALLEGATION: Mike Ornstein corroborates a $10k bounty on Favre.

    On Tuesday June 19th, media reports surfaced that Mike Ornstein confirmed to NFL officials that there was indeed a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre. An official league transcript stated:

    Mr. [Gregg] Williams and Mr. [Mike] Ornstein and another member of the Saints defensive coaching staff, all of whom were present at the meeting, all stated to NFL investigators that Mr. Vilma pledged $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the next week’s NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    >7) FLAW: Just hours after that report surfaced, Ornstein vehemently denied the allegation. He said:

    I never corroborated $10,000 … The only thing that I told them was that we had the [pregame] meeting, we jumped around, we screamed around, and I never saw [Vilma] offer one dime. And I never heard him say it. Did I say to the league that I saw Jonathan Vilma offer $10,000? Absolutely not.

    Mike Florio continues:

    I asked Ornstein the question several different ways, to ensure there was no ambiguity. He consistently and repeatedly (and at times profanely) denied ever telling the NFL that Vilma offered money to anyone who knocked Favre and/or Warner out of the 2009 playoff games.

    Why such a glaring disparity in what actually happened? Why would the NFL claim corroboration by Ornstein when he’s so pointedly denies doing so? Somebody’s lying here. Who is it? Did the NFL think that because Ornstein’s credibility is largely shot, they can falsely implicate him without risk?

    * 8) Allegation: Joe Vitt contributed $5,000 to a bounty on Favre

    When the NFLPA released on Monday the evidence submitted to them by the NFL, the now-infamous “transcribed note” indicated Joe Vitt pledging $5000 to a “QB out pool” prior to the NFCCG against Minnesota. Stuff like this immediately made the rounds in the media:

    Ex. 10: Transcription of notes from Vikings game — “$$ — QB out. QB out pool. $10K Vilma. $10K Grant. $10K Ornstein. Vitt $5K.”

    > 8) Flaw: Vitt forcefully denied pledging the money, going so far as to call Roger Goodell and discuss the situation. After Vitt’s conversation with Goodell, the NFL confirmed that Vitt did not offer money even though their most damning evidence–the transcribed handwritten note–said that he did.

    Specifically Vitt said in a statement on June 20th:

    I did not pledge any money for any incentive, pay for performance, bounty or any other alleged program in connection with any game, including the 2010 NFC Championship.

    Finally, it cannot be emphasized enough, none of our players, particularly those who are facing suspensions, ever crossed the white line with the intent to injure an opponent.

    The clarification of this allegation is the most important development of the entire bounty scandal. The transcribed note (see it in this post), which is the only piece of “evidence” the NFL possesses that actually hints at an actual bounty–which mind you, was what these harsh punishments were for–contains information that the NFL publicly admits is unverifiable and, by extension, incorrect.

    Doesn’t that discredit the validity of this note entirely? Even aside from the fact that it’s a transcription (which was smartly compared to “a drawing of a fingerprint [as] evidence”)? Are we supposed to believe one portion of a transcription is legitimate, while the NFL readily admits that another portion is not? So the person who is either interpreting the actual note, or dictating from memory what he remembers about a note that might or might not even exist, is to be trusted even when the NFL admits that what he’s shared with them can’t be verified as truth?

    Even though it will make no difference whatsoever, it’s revelatory of the fatally-flawed and hastily-constructed body of evidence used to condemn the Saints. This note–its relevance, its authenticity, its actuality versus its characterization–is a perfect microcosm of the events of BountyGate. Even if you ignore all of the other reasonably dubious claims, this alone should be enough to invite a healthy skepticism.

    In short, whether you look at these events alone or in composite, it’s abundantly clear that what the NFL has so desperately tried to sell the general public has been overwhelmingly flawed and less than damning every step along the way.

    It’s been little more than an orchestrated exercise in quackery. It’ s time the media held the NFL’s feet to the fire over this.

  50. gbmickey says: Jun 21, 2012 1:51 PM

    And yet hempoil you have no legitimate reason other than to deflect and throw insults like a child. Well done you put us all in our place.

  51. daveman8403 says: Jun 21, 2012 1:59 PM

    he NFL did not depend on one document or even a few from one person. They conducted a thorough investigation (over years) along with multiple interviews. They have confessions, audio recordings, email conversation in addition to documents. All of that paints a pretty clear picture.
    Now the guilty bozos have the nerve to complain and try to weasel out of their punishment instead of standing up like MEN and taking responsibility for what they have done.
    Was the punishment over the top? Maybe, maybe not. But that should be the real discussion here not whether anything actually occurred.

    —————————————————————————————————-

    YOU are dead wrong. every piece of damning evidence has been debunked (some debunked by the NFL themselves). The was was not a thorough investigation going on for years. the league investigated it briefly in 2010 and dropped it. they started again early 2012.

  52. srobert1117 says: Jun 21, 2012 2:02 PM

    It makes laugh that people still trust in the players to tell the truth. Fools.

  53. bigblackanvil says: Jun 21, 2012 2:13 PM

    I have a question. It involves incentives in players contracts. Like if a player has x amount of tackles or sacks or snaps or whatever they agree to with the team. Don’t players have to reach certain goals in order to receive contract bonus’ ? I saw the ” ledger”. It had names of other players with x amounts of money beside more than the players disciplined. Could that have been the Saints way of keeping track performance and contract incentives? I know a most player contracts are incentive packed. Not defending anyone but just asking a question.

  54. bigblackanvil says: Jun 21, 2012 2:15 PM

    I am a Redskins fan…But why does everyone hate the Saints so much ???

  55. fballguy says: Jun 21, 2012 2:35 PM

    The NFL evidence was tampered with more than a New Orleans Saints Vicodin locker.

  56. raidafan7 says: Jun 21, 2012 3:06 PM

    @truthfactory…Have you ever been in any locker room before a football game? Seriously???? Go out there and rip their heads off, Lay the wood, Kick their ass. It is all a bunch of empty words. Do you think your Def. Coordinator when facing the Saints says, Guys lets go out there and pressure Drew Brees, Don’t hit him hard or get him dirty, just make him run away so he doesn’t throw the ball accurately. Common man

  57. 49erstim says: Jun 21, 2012 3:08 PM

    I’ve seen the name “Mike Cerullo” thrown out a couple of times. There is NO PROOF that he is the informant and yet I’ve seen Saints fans trash him again and again. Isn’t that what you’re accusing the NFL of doing to your team? Wow guys…irony!

  58. jason1980 says: Jun 21, 2012 3:48 PM

    @blackmail……because the Saints are winners. Everybody hates winners. I’ll take the hatred spewed on this board times 10, to have a Lombardi Trophy. Saints fans feel the same way. When you have been to the mountain top, losers hate you. You’re welcome. I love being a Saints fan. Who Dat!!

  59. phillyfanmatt says: Jun 21, 2012 4:29 PM

    All I am going to say is both sides are trying to convince us all what they have is right. How are we to know if Vitt offered money or not? Just because the NFL says he did and showed on the paper is not always a reason to believe that he did it. But then on the other hand just because he said he didn’t isn’t really a good enough reason to just believe him. So as I see it this needs to be decided by a court system and not just by the NFL per the CBA. Let a real judge or set of judges sort this out and determine if the NFL really has the evidence to back up their claims or are the coaches and players lying through their teeth to save their own skins. Let a court decide its the best way.

  60. gerttownmomo says: Jun 21, 2012 4:35 PM

    It makes laugh that people still trust in the players to tell the truth. Fools.

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

    what’s even funnier is how blindly people believe everything ‘big business’ says. the nfl right now is sort of looking like the banking industry.

  61. gerttownmomo says: Jun 21, 2012 4:42 PM

    and the winner for the biggest waste of bandwith and blog space goes to……………………………

    ‘What a pathetic Franchise and fan base. The NFL gave them their Championship because of Katrina, and they still can’t stop crying!’

    bitter a little bit are we? vikings fan? lions fan? falcons fan? c’mon got anything intelligent to say?

    i can’t believe some of my posts get deleted yet this garbage flies as being relevent to the article and discussion?

  62. gerttownmomo says: Jun 21, 2012 4:43 PM

    I’ve seen the name “Mike Cerullo” thrown out a couple of times. There is NO PROOF that he is the informant and yet I’ve seen Saints fans trash him again and again. Isn’t that what you’re accusing the NFL of doing to your team? Wow guys…irony!

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

    oh there’s proof. but just because the nfl hasn’t said it no one believes it.

  63. clownworldmovies says: Jun 21, 2012 5:35 PM

    “phillyfanmatt says:
    Jun 21, 2012 4:29 PM
    All I am going to say is both sides are trying to convince us all what they have is right. How are we to know if Vitt offered money or not? Just because the NFL says he did and showed on the paper is not always a reason to believe that he did it. ”

    Have you not read any of what you’re commenting on? The NFL already responded to Vitt’s denial by agreeing with him. That’s why the credibility of the evidence is in question.

  64. jredshoes says: Jun 27, 2012 4:00 PM

    I vote for just removing the NFL franchise from New Orleans if it means no more bounty stories

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