So much for protecting whistleblowers.
The lengthy memorandum issued by the NFL to all teams on Tuesday regarding the re-issued discipline in the Saints bounty scandal identifies former Vikings defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy as the person who originally told former Vikings coach Brad Childress in early 2010 that the Saints had a bounty on former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game. (The memo says that Kennedy was interviewed, but it says nothing about whether Kennedy retracted his claim. A prior memo issued by the league, back when protecting whistleblowers was a supposed priority, indicated that an unnamed Vikings player had come forward in early 2010, but that the player thereafter rescinded his contention.)
It’s not the first time Kennedy has been linked to the Saints bounty scandal. The sworn declaration submitted by former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove explained that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told Hargrove that Kennedy had said Hargrove told Kennedy about the bounty on Favre. At the time, Kennedy vehemently denied the contention via Twitter.
Now, Kennedy has returned to Twitter to refute the NFL’s new allegations.
“It’s really starting to bother me,” Kennedy says. “How can the NFL continue to say I told them about Bounty & they interviewed me? THIS DID NOT HAPPEN!”
Kennedy specifically denies that he ever was interviewed by the league. “This Sucks! I NEVER interviewed with anyone from #NFL, No NFL Security, Not Goodell, NO ONE!”
Regardless of whether there was an interview of Kennedy, there was no reason for the NFL to mention Kennedy’s name. Unlike former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo, who blew the whistle in 2011 and then became a key source of specific information on which discipline has been based, Kennedy had no role in the case the NFL has made against Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and Hargrove. Coming on the heels of the league insisting that whistleblowers be protected at all costs, the pointing of a finger at Kennedy was, in our opinion, unfair, irresponsible, and possibly actionable.
As NFL owners prepare to gather in Chicago for their first full meeting since a string of embarrassments smacked against the shield like repeated pecan pies in the face, the gratuitous outing of a whistleblower who never became a witness can be added to the list of things for which the owners could be demanding a full and complete explanation.