The four players suspended as a result of the NFL’s investigation into the Saints’ bounty program believe the league office got the whole thing wrong, and the head of their union says that rather than closing the investigation, it’s time to re-examine the whole thing.
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said on today’s Pro Football Talk Live that he is planning to talk to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about where he thinks the bounty investigation has failed and which elements of it that he thinks the league needs to reconsider. Smith pointed, for instance, to the video that the NFL claims shows Anthony Hargrove saying “give me my money” after hearing that Brett Favre had been injured against the Saints in the NFC Championship Game, even though Hargrove’s mouth is obscured in the video at the time that those words can be heard.
“Frankly, I believe that the investigators let the commissioner down,” Smith said. “Our hope, and certainly it will be a message from me to the league soon, is that given all of the recantations and all of the contradictions and, as exemplified by the video, all of the things that are clearly not clear, shouldn’t we be taking another hard look about where this investigation failed the commissioner?”
Smith noted that the evidence that the NFL has publicly revealed has left many observers questioning whether it really proves that suspended players Hargrove, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were involved in the paying of bounties.
“Virtually everyone is wondering whether this process has been fair and whether we’ve achieved our goal of finding the truth,” Smith said. “We shouldn’t be in a world where players are being punished for something that is inconclusive and unclear.”
Smith said he doesn’t believe that NFL players set out to injure opposing players.
“It’s inconsistent with what our players stand for,” Smith said. “It’s inconsistent with everything we’ve done to make this game safer.”
And Smith believes the findings of the NFL’s investigation are inconsistent with a fair and complete investigation.