As the NCAA imposes on Penn State an array of penalties that arguably are more punitive and long-lasting than the so-called death penalty, the sanctions trace directly to the report generated by former federal judge and FBI director Louis Freeh. As a result, some are now wondering whether Penn State wishes it hadn’t hired Freeh to engage in such a comprehensive review of the Jerry Sandusky situation.
In turn, some Saints fans are wondering whether owner Tom Benson may be reconsidering the wisdom of the decision to retain Freeh to conduct a similar review of the allegation that G.M. Mickey Loomis previously had the ability to eavesdrop on opposing coaches.
“Serious allegations have been made about our organization this off-season; we take these allegations very seriously,” team spokesman Greg Bensel told PFT via email on June 8. “As a result, we have hired the Freeh Group, founded by former director of the FBI and former federal judge Louis Freeh. Mr. Benson moved quickly to hire them and has spared no expense to get to the bottom of these allegations. We have given the Freeh Group complete access to our team and all of the individuals who have been associated with this news story.”
It’s believed that, after examining the wiretapping allegations, the Freeh Group will examine the bounty situation.
But Freeh’s involvement doesn’t mean a report eventually will be generated and released for public consumption. Penn State is a public entity; the Saints aren’t.
Of course, if we never hear another peep from Freeh when it comes to the Saints, some will conclude (perhaps accurately) that he found information that would be unflattering to the organization and/or one or more of its key employees, if released to the media.
Then again, there’s also a chance that Freeh’s report will be embraced by the Saints, since it could entail a conclusion that, for example, a disgruntled former employee embellished at best or fabricated at worst the wiretapping allegations — and possibly that ESPN’s John Barr was overly zealous in trying to dig up dirt about the team in the wake of the bounty scandal.
As to the bounty scandal, Freeh’s report possibly could crystallize and explain the semantics-driven dispute between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding the pay-for-performance system. By all appearances, there was no specific pay-for-injury system — but there were incentives for applying clean, legal hits in a way that coincidentally caused injury. A report from Freeh that makes that point and explains the distinction could, given the widespread respect Freeh enjoys, finally spark the much-needed debate as to whether such harsh penalties should apply for giving players a little extra money to do something they’re already paid to do.
In the end, whether the rest of us ever get access to the information generated by Freeh could depend on whether the Saints like — or don’t like — the stuff that Freeh discovers. If, in the end, the Saints choose to release everything, it’s safe to say that Freeh’s findings will be regarded as credible and trustworthy, given the flamethrower he took to Penn State via an investigation that Penn State paid him to conduct.