Saints quarterback Drew Brees apparently has been informed correctly.
In reference to men like Sean Payton and Gregg Williams, who have said nothing since players raised questions regarding the quality of the league’s bounty investigation, Brees told Dan Patrick on Tuesday that Brees has 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 comments mesh with information that multiple sources have shared with PFT in recent days. We’re told that Payton and Williams have been quiet because they are concerned about retribution from the league office, if they publicly undermine the league’s position regarding the player suspensions in any way.
As one source explained it, the scorched-earth investigation that the NFL conducted in late 2011, which included a review of the Saints’ computer system, may have yielded other information on which additional sanctions could be based, if the league is so inclined.
There’s currently no evidence that the fears are anything other than unfounded, and the league has said or done nothing to threaten the coaches with further sanctions. Indeed, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said on Friday’s PFT Live that Williams can speak publicly about the bounty situation, if he wants. Payton presumably can, too.
Interim head coach Joe Vitt, suspended six games by the NFL, already has expressed disagreement with the contents of the most important document in the bounty case — the notes of alleged contributions to the quarterback bounty pool before the 2009 NFC title game. The notes claim Vitt kicked in $5,000, and Vitt vehemently disputed that information, suggesting at one point that the bounty evidence may have been “falsified or tampered with.”
The fact that Vitt spoke out doesn’t make it unreasonable for Payton and Williams to be concerned. Still, we’ve heard from multiple sources that Williams wants to comment publicly, specifically regarding the league’s contention that Williams corroborated the claim that linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game. But Williams to date has been muzzled by his lawyer, who apparently believes that any effort to dispute the notion that Williams threw a player under the bounty bus will be overcome by the impact of disputing the league’s evidence on Williams’ ability to be reinstated after the 2012 season.
So Brees’ sources are solid. Payton and Williams want to coach again, and they believe that, for now, silence is the best way to make that happen.