NFL, Tagliabue want to prevent release of bounty hearing transcript

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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.

31 responses to “NFL, Tagliabue want to prevent release of bounty hearing transcript

  1. Simply put, Mr. Benson needs to go Al Davis on the NFL.

    Apparently unbeknown to Mr. Benson, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis the NFL and Tags used this as their hearing. Did they have council present to defend the accusations against them?

  2. I sincerely doubt that the NFL wants to keep the transcripts secret because they want to protect Joe Vitt’s character.
    They care not about anyone’s character except their own.
    There is no question that there are statements in that testimony that are downright damaging to the NFL.

  3. Regardless of Tags vacating all suspensions he did not as a neutral arbitrator, he acted as the NFL’s atty. His priority was less about the truth & more about minimizing the NFL’s liability. Boy how I would love the testimonies & evidence used publicly released. However, in the spirit of minimizing liability that will ever happen & they’ll do everything possible to prevent it from happening. One has to wonder why, what are they hiding?

  4. I certainly would find the transcripts interesting. But I hope they don’t get released. As this site correctly, and often, points out the remaining disputes are really ones of semantics. All the pertinent facts have come to light. Where everyone differs is in their interpretation and opinions of these facts.

    The league is a private enterprise entitled to its own discipline process. To force the league to air its dirty laundry would defeat one of the main purposes of collective bargaining agreements: private control over the operation of its business.

    The NFL is not the federal or a state government. Despite the impression of many, the league is not required to protect virtually any of its players constitutional rights. There is no basis or need for outside oversight of the manner in which the league imposes internal discipline.

    No one outside the NFL, and potentially the judicial system, has any legal right to the information in question.

    Absolutely no one.

  5. What’s the point of not releasing everything. If you release everything then those who are pro Saints like me and anti Saints can view what was said. And, one way or the other we can form our own conclusions about this.

  6. Still a sham..

    And obviously, when Cerrullo and Williams’ testimonies contradict each other, Tagliablue has no problem “giving their attribution weight”.

  7. Damage control and preserving the image. They buried the Patriots cheating scandal evidence too. Both are guilty as sin … except in the eys of their fans, to whom no evidence will ever be enough.

  8. Honestly, I don’t think they should release it. Just think about it. It would probably endanger the jobs and safety of some of these these people and destroy their public image if everyone in the country were able to see it.

  9. “As a result of Vitt’s admissions and conflicting testimonies, I find that any attribution made by him cannot be given particular weight.”
    This quote from Tagliabue’s ruling bothers me.
    In the last paragraph of the ruling, there is quite a bit of confusion if Jonathan Vilma ACTUALLY ever was holding or put up 10,000.00. But according to Cerullo’s sworn statement, Vilma had 2 “five stacks”, assumed by Cerullo to be two 5,000.00 stacks of $100 bills. He, in his sworn statement, said he gave that money to Williams. So now there is even a question of whether Vilma actually offered a “bounty” during that meeting. Tags has a problem decerning whether that was “just talk” before a huge game or something different. But Tags has said that Vitt’s testimony was conflicting. Things that make you go hmmmmm!

  10. Of course the NFL doesn’t want it released….because transcripts can’t be turned into paragraphs full of legal-ese to sugar coat just how bad the NFL and Goodell in particular got it handed to them. The NFL never dreamed these guys would stand up and fight for themselves, much less so publicly and boldly. Hubris. Money=power. Power corrupts every single time.

    I’m glad Vilma will continue with his defamation lawsuit.

  11. If the ‘sheild’ has nothing to hide, then why not release the testimony??? Sounds like that sheild is now ‘tarnished’ just like the Saints 2012 season.

  12. Whats the point of releasing the transcripts?

    Neither the players, coaches, or the team management will look good. No one’s mind is going to be changed. Those that view this “pay for performance” program as a “bounty” program won’t change their minds-and vice versa.

    For the record, any team that gives it’s players cash rewards in the event an opposition player is ‘carted off the field’ (irregardless if a flag is thrown on the play) is guilty of reckless and unsportsmanlike behavior. The fact that some (most?) Saint’s fans can’t grasp this is understandable. Why a fan of any other team can’t see this simple truth is unfathomable.

  13. This is so awesome to see the lawyers and the NFL try and take cover for their stupid mistakes. Yep, AL Davis is loving this. But give me those draft picks back AL, and Mark.

  14. Vilma will and probably should push for the release of the transcript in his defamation suit. If the league offers to settle rather than fight then we’d know who really thinks they’re guilty.

  15. It sounds like Vitt was being honest when he said that his original testimony didn’t cover some gray areas. So when he went back the second time and elaborated more on the gray areas, Goodell & Tags played “gotcha” and used this as proof that the entirety of his testimony was invalid.

    And now it’s rumored that his testimony was the most damaging. Hmmm…

  16. cwwgk, “no one” has the right to see transcripts for a private companies dealing. Are you nuts.
    Ever heard of the U S Constitution? I believe that trumps any company’s so call secretive rights involving misconduct by management.
    This is not Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Americans do have rights no matter what you think.

  17. Simply put:

    The New Orleans Saints are and will always be the 2009 World Champions and there ain’t a damn thing anybody can do about it. Keep on hating the Saints. We still have our rings and our trophy, and they are shining brighter than ever with not a single blemish on them.

  18. @mrlaloosh: I’m quite familiar the U.S. Constitution. It’s the primary subject matter of my vocation. Perhaps if you had a better understanding yourself of its contents and interpretations you might comprehend why I mentioned the judicial system in my comment.

  19. We will see the documents when it goes back to the judge….. She won’t protect Goodell……Going to watch the Superbowl just to watch the fans heckle Goodell. It’s going to be epic.

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