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DeMaurice Smith: Bounty investigators let the NFL down

Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, AP

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.

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41 Responses to “DeMaurice Smith: Bounty investigators let the NFL down”
  1. mathomp3 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:46 PM

    This would involve Roger Goodell admitting that he or his office was wrong….good luck with that one DeMaurice…

  2. ironhawk says: Jun 22, 2012 12:46 PM

    I think he’s very smart in not attacking the Commissioner. If he came out and blamed Roger, than it becomes personal. He would enforce the suspensions just to keep his pride. Coming out and saying “it’s not his fault, it’s the people who work for him’s fault.” Allows the Commissioner to have a change of mind without feeling like he’s losing anything.

  3. dspyank2k11 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:47 PM

    do we really need to know what de smith has to say?

  4. goodellgate says: Jun 22, 2012 12:48 PM

    NFL investigators* ??

  5. LoCoSu@%s says: Jun 22, 2012 12:49 PM

    In short, DeMo says “The Commissioner knows jack”

  6. butthatmakestoomuchsense says: Jun 22, 2012 12:50 PM

    Smith’s name being mentioned in a headline means YOU have to make a hat joke.

    Get on it.

  7. captatl says: Jun 22, 2012 12:50 PM

    Well spoken guy, but just not bright. He will soon be a former leader of the NFLPA

  8. eaglesfootballfan says: Jun 22, 2012 12:54 PM

    DeMaurice Smith is just trying to cover for the players. There is plenty of evidence that the NFL has came out with that says there was a bounty system. The world knows it was a bounty system. Even Greg Williams admitted to it so stop it D Smith. Just stop it and whoever else who says the NFL has no evidence because they do.

  9. eagleswin says: Jun 22, 2012 12:55 PM

    Did he say anything about player safety? I’m just curious because i still haven’t heard anything about the mysterious “study” the NFLPA had to do to determine if mouthguards and concussion resistant helmets reduce injuries? How about the “population study” that they insist on HGH which no reputable doctor will do?

  10. joetoronto says: Jun 22, 2012 12:57 PM

    Dee Clown says what?

  11. moagecu says: Jun 22, 2012 12:59 PM

    “We shouldn’t be in a world where players are being punished for something that is inconclusive and unclear.”

    Notice how he doesnt say “we shouldn’t be in a world where players are being punished for something that they did not do.”

  12. goodolebaghead says: Jun 22, 2012 1:00 PM

    THANK YOU. Saint fan here. This is all we’ve been screaming the whole time. Punish the coaches, punish the players. But do it fairly and directly. If the NFL had been transparent and punished based on confirmed evidence, this story would have died weeks after its arrival on the news. Obviously the NFL has the investigative abilities of the Keystone Cops and they need to get their act together before they run an unwarranted smear campaign on another team, and cost people their careers.

  13. clickablecontent says: Jun 22, 2012 1:00 PM

    Inconsistent? Smith should be reminded of player reaction when this first broke out. An example from Shawn Merriman via Twitter: “Why is this a big deal now? Bounties been going on forever. A ‘Bounty’ left me with a torn PCL and LCL in my knee … ” If they truly hope to get anywhere on behalf of these 4 players, the NFLPA would do well to focus on these specific players’ innocence, not the denial of the existence of a bounty culture in the NFL.

  14. cletusvandam says: Jun 22, 2012 1:03 PM

    DeMaurice Smith let down the players when he went after $$ and let the commissioner keep ALL the power.

  15. tebowsafraud says: Jun 22, 2012 1:04 PM

    “Smith said he doesn’t believe that NFL players set out to injure opposing players….”

    ————————-

    He must have his head up his arse then.

    The evidence is clear. You ONLY got the money for “cart offs” and “knockouts” and only an injured player needs a cart to get off the field. In this program Williams set up you ONLY GOT PAID IF YOUR OPPONENT WAS INJURED. A good clean big legal hit? No money for you because the guy never missed a snap. A big illegal hit that resulted in a penalty but also a “cart off”? Collect your cash!!

    Thats why Williams and Payton and Loomis are not complaining or appealing. They know what they did was malicious and unethical.

    Heres an idea De. Call up Williams and ask HIM what happened. The maybe you won’t look like a clown-again.

  16. geefan1 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:04 PM

    I think that’s a terrific idea — and as they find more evidence of illegal payments they should send it to the IRS and as they find more evidence of rewards being offered for injuries they should provide that to county prosecutor’s office.

  17. montsta says: Jun 22, 2012 1:04 PM

    What the players and De Smith forget is that this isn’t a murder trial. The NFL doesn’t need 100% irrefutable evidence to hand down suspensions. If the NFL feels like they have a preponderance of circumstantial evidence, then that is enough. Oh his mouth was obstructed from view while someone in his voice said give me my money? That’s enough for the NFL. This is what happens when a lawyer, not an ex-player, heads the NFLPA.

  18. sfsaintsfan says: Jun 22, 2012 1:04 PM

    Overturn the player suspensions completely.

    Fine each player “involved” between $25K and $100K each and have the money designated to charity.

    Reduce the suspension of Sean Payton to four games and fine him $1 million. (There was a lack of institutional control.) Loomis should get the same deal.

    That would still be by far the stiffest suspensions in NFL history. All for a “pay for performance” program, which several other NFL teams have run in the past, and for which they collectively received ZERO penalties. No suspensions, no fines, no loss of draft choices.

    Gregg Williams, I couldn’t care less, the guy is a clown and a terrible defensive Coordinator.

  19. mancave001 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:11 PM

    OK, enough. This is getting ridiculous. Here are the facts.

    1. There was some type of bounty/PFP system in place.

    2. Loomis, Peyton, Williams and Vitt all at least knew about it.

    3. The suspended players participated in this in *some* way or another.

    4. Goodell is too powerful with regard to discipline, and the NFL did not conduct a transparent investigation.

    Are we all in agreement? Good. Now, Demaurice Smith, the NFLPA and the players involved in this…please shut the eff up and take your suspensions. It’s the NFLPA’s fault they let Goodell have the power he does under the new CBA. But it’s done now. You and your team did something wrong. You know it, we know it, everyone knows it. Stop with the technicalities and lawsuits and revised testimony and legalese. YOU WERE PART OF A BOUNTY PROGRAM. If you want to take on Goodell for being too powerful, fine. But that’s another issue. Back to football. Football now.

  20. sj39 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:11 PM

    So after all this De Smith is saying it just didn’t happen. There were never any pools of money to be paid out for cart-offs and knock outs, Williams speech about taking out ACLs was a figment of our imagination, Hargrove started the sentence but because a head got in the way he must not have finished it. There were never any ducks to get in a row so Payton must not have said that either so let’s lift all the suspensions and get back to playing good clean Saints football. Kumbaya my friends kumbaya.

  21. wiley16350 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:12 PM

    I’m sorry, but I don’t get the Anthony Hargrove video defiance by you and others. I mean you can see Hargrove say something to start but can’t quite hear what he says (It sounds possibly like “I did it”). Then you clearly see Hargrove say “Bobby” followed by the words “Give me my money” which sounded like it was said by the same person that said “Bobby”, i.e. Hargrove. So (to me) it seems clear that Hargrove believed that he was the one that knocked Favre out of the game (or that he wanted Bobby to believe that) to get his money. I mean the voice that said “bobby” and said “give me the money” sounded exactly the same. I don’t even see how you can come to a different conclusion. I mean, do you think Hargrove just says “bobby” and then doesn’t say anything to let bobby know why he was addressing him. To say that you can’t prove it because you don’t actually see it come from his lips may be a great lawyer tactic to place doubt in people’s heads but that doesn’t make it a reasonable argument.

  22. bearsrulepackdrool says: Jun 22, 2012 1:16 PM

    This all is a joke.

  23. daveman8403 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:16 PM

    eaglesfootballfan says:
    Jun 22, 2012 12:54 PM
    DeMaurice Smith is just trying to cover for the players. There is plenty of evidence that the NFL has came out with that says there was a bounty system. The world knows it was a bounty system. Even Greg Williams admitted to it so stop it D Smith. Just stop it and whoever else who says the NFL has no evidence because they do.
    ————————————————————————————————————-
    really? The world does not know there was a bounty system. The General Public thinks there was. and since when does that constitute guilt of anyone. (e.g. the townspeople knew those Salem girls were witches). all the damaging evidence has been debunked, shown to be non-reliable, or both. please show me where Greg Williams admitted to a Pay-for-injury program. HE DID NOT. the points is the NFL jumped the gun and has been anything but transparent. If you disagree with that, you are being disingenuous.

  24. totallyuselessme says: Jun 22, 2012 1:24 PM

    All this subterfuge by Goodell and the NFL has turned the tides against him.

    If you have proof, like you said you do, over and over again, show it.
    If not, how can you punish them?
    How can you ruin a man’s career and his livelihood on a “well, he probably did this” or a “I think he did that”?

    To act otherwise goes against what this country is all about. I’m as big a fan of the NFL and anti-bounty as they come, but going in with a shotgun and just spraying everybody because you think they were guilty is heavy-handed and ignorant.

  25. tombradyswig says: Jun 22, 2012 1:25 PM

    DeMO is a let down!

  26. patriotera says: Jun 22, 2012 1:34 PM

    And the Patriots didn’t cheat!

  27. paulitik74 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:37 PM

    I was on the players side during the lockout, but De Smith deserves the blame for not demanding a better punishment and appeal process. Considering Fujita and Brees were integral in CBA negotiations on behalf of the NFLPA, Saints fans are pointing the fingers in the wrong direction.

    Any pay to injure program is too much. Whether it was 1% or 50% of the still illegal pay for performance program the Saints instituted. How successful it was or whether players took the money or put it back in the pot is irrelevant.

    This isn’t a court of law. The burden of proof doesn’t have to maintain the same standards as a prosecutor trying a crime would need. There is plenty of evidence to show that something was going on and Shanle admitted that pay for cart offs and knockouts were part of that program, whether exaggerated or not, rewards were offered for hits that knocked players out of the game. That shouldn’t be tolerated. There is not one NFL player contract with an incentive to knock players out of the game. So the idiots that want to compare CBA approved incentive laden contracts for sacks, INTs, and tackles are barking up the wrong tree.

    The fact is, NFL players are well compensated for what they do. The honor and privilege of being a professional athlete in the NFL, the desire to win and be a champion is all the incentive anyone stepping on that field should need. The fact that the Saints had to do this shows what a petty and corrupt organization they have down in Metarie.

    Saints fans need to realize that dragging this out only keeps the headlines rolling, and increases the distractions. Drew Brees isn’t even signed yet. Take your punishments like men and move on. It’s a losing battle.

  28. haansel82 says: Jun 22, 2012 1:40 PM

    Coming from a non professional players point of view, we were always instructed to punish players opposing our team. If we faced a star caliber RB or and happy footed QB we would try to hurt them to slow them down. American football is a violent sport, it has always been violent, and it should continue to be violent. Injuries happen, people have their careers ended, it is unfortunate, but it is a way of life in this sport. If a few guys bet or “bounty” a guy for a few thousand dollars, which to the average American would be like $1-$5 considering they make millions, so be it. These guys in the NFL need to go full force, the game is not for the weak. As a non professional player and a fan of the NFL, I ask that this non-sense be forgiven and understood. This is a classic mountain being made out of a mole hill.

  29. myschwartzisbiggerthenyours says: Jun 22, 2012 1:44 PM

    And you let the players down by telling them to agree to the labor deal. It was all about the money with De, everything else was nonsense he didn’t care about.

  30. thudgmt says: Jun 22, 2012 2:02 PM

    How bout the players agree to questioning from investigators using a lie detector test? Then we actually have a chance to get the truth.

    Someone has to ask, why aren’t the players giving a full account of their actions or what happened from their perspective (cause we all agree something was going on that wasn’t right). Until that time the players don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt (because the NFL has at least provided a fair amount of evidence). What evidence have the players provided of their innocence, their word? Haha, don’t make me laugh.

  31. thejuddstir says: Jun 22, 2012 2:06 PM

    “It’s inconsistent with what our players stand for,” Smith said……………………perhaps the players of 31 teams.

  32. bigjdve says: Jun 22, 2012 2:24 PM

    Great he is suggesting a mulligan on the whole thing.

    Okay – lets go over facts.

    1. Saints front office and coaching staff have admitted a pay for play system was in place.

    2. Saints front office and coaching staff have admitted a pay for play system was in place, that all active defensive players were involved in.

    3. Saints front office and coaching staff have admitted a pay for play system was in place, that all active defensive players were involved in. This system stayed in place after they were specifically told by the league not to.

    4. Saints front office and coaching staff have admitted a pay for play system was in place, that all active defensive players were involved in. This system stayed in place after they were specifically told by the league not to. Then they lied and conspired to get others to lie about said program.

    Okay we are good on the coaches suspensions. They broke the rules and lied about it. Notice, I didn’t say bounties.

    Now let’s cover the players.

    1. The defensive players were all part of a pay for play scheme. This has been admitted by front office, the coaching staff, and you guessed it the players. They didn’t intend to hurt anyone. However this violates NFL rules and violated both the previous and current CBAs. Players have admitted to this!

    2. The defensive players continued to violate both the CBA and NFL rules after being warned to cease and desist by the NFL. Players have admitted to this!

    3. The defensive players all conspired to cover-up and hide the fact that they were still violating these rules. Players have admitted to this!

    Yup – instead of nailing the entire defense he nailed 4 players. Oh, wait – there were offensive players that knew of the scheme, lied about it’s existence and conspired to cover it up as well. Players have admitted that this has happened and this has been corroborated by a witness, the videographer Paphilion. So we have seen this evidence.

    Notice that I have not said Bounties – just pay for play.

    The league has been secretive about the evidence with regard to bounties. They tagged some of the coaches, some of the front office, and 4 players for bounties.

    In reality, they could’ve handled this better. However but something to look at is that there is a really thin line between pay for play and bounties when you suggest that a legal but really hard hit is something that can generate cash. Especially when you have a lot of players saying that “clean” hits such as helmet to helmet hits are legal even though they have a much higher % chance of causing injuring a player.

    By labeling bounties and tagging a couple players, they were able to differentiate between the 2 and set a precedent so that other teams stop doing this. More to the point, it allowed them to not suspend the majority of the Saints team so that they could field one for the season. By looking at all the rules that were broken there is already precedent for suspensions for all of the players and there could be an argument for having them drummed out of the union as well.

    By hitting Fujita it sends a message to the union to straighten up with the cover-up. It is also a lesser hit then suspending Brees for lying and trying to cover it up.

    Wait let’s give this a mulligan, let’s start over.

    Let’s just use the Pay for Play, we now need to suspend all the Saints that there is any proof of them knowing about the PfP program, that they participated, and/or tried to cover it up.

    Since we have an average suspension time for the Staff of something like 9 weeks. We need to give that to the players as well. Don’t get me wrong, the coaches instituted it but the players have stated that it happens all over and where the coaches don’t start it the players do, so that means they are just as guilty.

    Let’s also investigate each team with players that have admitted to a system which now means alot of other teams. Let’s suspend any player that was on any of those teams in those years. Now we have alot of teams getting hurt because of something that “every team does”.

    Yeah that mulligan is sounding really good right now. You want to talk about something that would ruin the game.

    Goodell nailed 4 players out of all the players who could easily have nailed for breaking the rules and lying about it. He may have overstated his proof, we don’t know as he hasn’t shown most of it.

    As to Vilma’s assertion that he is tainted now, if he is still playing in a year, teams will look at him based on his ability – NOT bounties. Just look at Burress and Vick.

    As to the comments about unfair to take their lively-hood without evidence. He changes the verbage, and they are all guilty of things that could just as easily get the same suspension except changing that verbage leads to alot more people getting the hammer.

    In the end, the Saints as a team got caught doing something wrong. They were warned. They as a team decided to continue, and when asked lie and cover it up.

    That is why they are getting punished for.

    At this point it is ridiculous. The only case that might have some credibility would be the defamation suit, even then it is a really hard case to win, not to mention with Ginsberg’s history of frivolous lawsuits, and recent bevy of losses against the league that becomes alot harder because Goodell can just try the “he is harassing me” defense. There won’t be many judges that will want to touch that.

  33. gerttownmomo says: Jun 22, 2012 2:41 PM

    DeMaurice Smith let down the players when he went after $$ and let the commissioner keep ALL the power.

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

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. the PLAYERS wouldn’t give up the money. since goodell had the power ALREADY given to him by his homeboy upshaw, he wasn’t about to negotiate it out of the cba. the only thing the players had to bargain with was the bigger share of tv revenue which DeMo fought very hard for. get your facts straight before shooting your mouth off. the players did NOT give goodell all this power with this cba, it was given to him with the LAST cba!

  34. eztargetone says: Jun 22, 2012 2:41 PM

    This site seems to always be bashing the NFL for not producing the evidence. The writers here constantly pushing their views upon the readers. I wish they would TRULY stick with unbiased writing and leave the decisions of who to believe to the readers. This article is not the worst I have ever seen and in fact, it seems genuinely unbiased, but I have read so many anti-NFL articles I am becoming jaded to anything they write bountywise.
    It seems pretty simple to me, but appearantly not to the writers or some readers. Again, this is MY view that to me seems to be common sense. THE NFL HASN’T RELEASED EVIDENCE BECAUSE IT WOULD BECOME OPEN SEASON ON THE WHISTLE BLOWERS AND NO ONE WOULD EVER COME FORWARD AGAIN. I applaud Roger Goodell for having the fortitude to withstand the media and public outcry for all of the evidence, but still protecting the witnesses and their professional lives by not releasing compromising evidence.
    The easy thing would be to release all the evidence, but the commissioner is taking the hard and the high road. Good job Mr Goodell. Good job protecting the NFL.

  35. gerttownmomo says: Jun 22, 2012 2:48 PM

    There is plenty of evidence to show that something was going on and Shanle admitted that pay for cart offs and knockouts were part of that program, whether exaggerated or not, rewards were offered for hits that knocked players out of the game. That shouldn’t be tolerated.

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

    so let me ask this question of all the high and mightys, say the nfl found charts of targeted players and tally sheets with ‘knockouts’ and ‘cartoffs’ but NO MONEY pledged, what would you think then?

  36. gerttownmomo says: Jun 22, 2012 2:53 PM

    THE NFL HASN’T RELEASED EVIDENCE BECAUSE IT WOULD BECOME OPEN SEASON ON THE WHISTLE BLOWERS AND NO ONE WOULD EVER COME FORWARD AGAIN.

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

    if they were telling the truth then they should have no reason to fear retaliation. right?

  37. bigjdve says: Jun 22, 2012 3:17 PM

    gerttownmomo: Actually they would have to worry either way.

    If they lied, well they lied about their buddies.

    If they were telling the truth, nobody in any locker-room would trust them as they would be viewed as rats.

    Yeah they should be worried. In the real world the government can protect you. In the sports world, just like the courts don’t get involved with the punishments for the pay for play or bounties, they wouldn’t for retaliation either.

  38. raidafan7 says: Jun 22, 2012 3:52 PM

    @Bigjdv, that was well thought out…However you omitted the fact that their names were tarnished by saying they set out to injure other players which was never admitted by anyone. You forgot to mention that just about every team in the league has some type of pay for performance system in place. So my opinion is either look into every team’s pay for performance system which includes buying watches for offensive lineman and Jim Schwartz admitting to giving “Small Gifts” to players. Or, the league could just try to prove it is was a bounty.

  39. easyeddie says: Jun 22, 2012 4:28 PM

    Cudos bigjdve, Great post!

  40. gerttownmomo says: Jun 22, 2012 4:30 PM

    If they were telling the truth, nobody in any locker-room would trust them as they would be viewed as rats.

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

    can’t have it both ways there bubba. the all knowing artful dodger SURELY can protect them to make sure they are not retaliated against. after all he his main objective it protecting the players AND the shield!

  41. samapoc says: Jun 22, 2012 11:07 PM

    Forget that we don’t have evidence. Watch this cool video where someone dubbed in sound.

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