Last week, it was widely believed that the transcript of the Paul Tagliabue-led bounty hearings would be released not long after his decision was issued.
That belief was fueled in large part by the expectation that Tagliabue would issue a ruling that did something less than wipe out the suspensions, resulting in the players pushing the case back to federal court and necessitating a full study of the testimony by Judge Helen Berrigan.
Unless the players who were determined to have engaged in conduct detrimental to the league opt to obtain a full exoneration (which is possible, but would be pricey), the transcripts will for now remain under wraps.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, both the NFL and Tagliabue are trying to ensure that the testimony never sees the light of day.
One reason is that the testimony from Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt has been described to us as “brutal,” but also compelling and informative.
Coincidentally (or not), one paragraph contained in Tagliabue’s 22-page, single-spaced ruling describes Vitt as not credible.
“Vitt admitted to NFL investigators in 2012 that he ‘fabricated the truth’ when he spoke to an NFL investigator in March 2010 about whether there had been a bounty on [Brett] Favre,” Tagliabue writes. “[Vitt] later claimed that his admitted fabrication was just ‘stretching the truth’ because he failed to describe for investigators the emotionalism of the defensive team meeting the night before the NFC Championship Game. As a result of Vitt’s admissions and conflicting testimonies, I find that any attribution made by him cannot be given particular weight.”
It would be nice to examine his full testimony with our own eyes. Given that the NFL has made this case a matter of public concern, and in light of the fact that the suspensions arise from a desire to ensure public confidence in the game of professional football, the transcripts need to be released.
And I say that knowing that, once they are, I’ll be reading hundreds of pages of questions and answers, scouring through plenty of noting in search of those random, fleeting passages that shed light on the subject.