The four players suspended in the Saints’ bounty program are loudly proclaiming that the NFL’s decision was unfair, and that they’re not done fighting. But the other four men suspended in the Saints’ bounty program have accepted their punishments and apologized. So why the difference?
Saints quarterback Drew Brees says it’s because former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt fear that standing up to the NFL would only make things worse.
“I’ve been informed a lot of those coaches feel there are further sanctions being held over their head if they don’t cooperate with the investigation,” Brees said on The Dan Patrick Show. “If they were to speak out on behalf of the players, maybe that’s the fear they have.”
If that’s true, it’s a black mark against the NFL’s investigation: The Saints’ coaches should be encouraged to speak truthfully about what, exactly, happened during the three season when Williams was the defensive coordinator, and that should include truthful statements that contradict the NFL’s conclusions. They shouldn’t fear that they’ll be punished further for speaking up.
For his part, Brees says he simply wants to know the truth, and that he doesn’t believe the NFL’s evidence has provided the truth. Brees pointed out that the video that the NFL claims shows Anthony Hargrove saying “Give me my money,” in fact doesn’t show Hargrove’s mouth at the time those words are spoken. Brees raised the question of whether it was actually another Saints defensive lineman, Remi Ayodele, who said those words after hearing that Brett Favre was injured in the NFC Championship Game. Ayodele, like Hargrove, has denied saying that.
“Is it Hargrove, is it Remi Ayodele? There’s all these names thrown out there, it’s basically anybody that’s in that picture,” Brees said. “I really to this point have not seen any hard evidence, any proof, that shows that these guys were contributing money or accepting money for a pay-to-injure scheme.”
That’s a case that Brees and his fellow players are continuing to press against the NFL, even after their coaches have already waved the white flag and said there’s no fighting the league office.