The bounty case is over, for the most part. But with the NFL soon descending on New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII, plenty more will be said about the situation — especially since Saints coach Sean Payton remains suspended as the franchise is preparing for the 2013 season.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said plenty more about the situation on Tuesday, during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take.
“Sometimes in this business everybody sort of looks at the end,” Smith said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Very few people today it seems to me have time to look at the process. Here was the process, the process was if you remember, the league started out on a P.R. campaign where they said that there were dozens of players involved in a scheme to injure players. It turns out that while they talked about dozes of players by the time we got through the process it was a smaller number of players.
“You had people talking about email talking about bounties that the league didn’t even rely on when they were held accountable to the process. And as a person who sat there and read every page of the transcript, whether it was from Joe Vitt, Gregg Williams or other people involved in that bounty. What I was shocked by from the process was none of the words that came from their mouth substantiated the league’s P.R. machine.
“So it seems to me, while all of you haven’t been privy to the transcripts — we certainly don’t have a problem with those transcripts becoming public — what I champion and what all of our players champion is we are able to force a process that ultimately resulted in the fact that those players didn’t lose their games. Now frankly I will tell you, do I think the fans in New Orleans got the raw end of that deal? Yes they did. Do I know that Sean Payton got the raw end of that deal? Yes he did, because I know from reading each and every page of that transcript that what the National Football League said occurred never occurred.”
That’s a strong statement, as we’d love to hear more about why Smith believes that. And we’d love even more to see the transcripts — all of the transcripts. The Saints undoubtedly were doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, and the non-players suffered significant consequences because they apparently covered it up.But, yes, a disconnect existed between words and actions. And, yes, the facts as initially sold by the league didn’t completely mesh with the reality.Moreover, and as former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue explained in his 22-page ruling overturning the players’ suspensions, the NFL ultimately attempted to implement culture change by taking a sledgehammer to the last team to be caught dangling cash to get players to do things they already had an incentive to do, from generating turnovers to applying clean, legal hits in a manner that rendered opposing players unable to continue.Meanwhile Payton remains suspended.