NFLPA will do its own investigation of Saints bounties

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The NFL Players Association said on Friday that it would study the NFL’s report regarding the bounty system utilized by the Saints for three years.  Five days later, the NFLPA announced that it will conduct its own investigation.

For now, the NFLPA accuses the Saints coaches of engaging in “improper and coercive” activities, in violation of the CBA.  To confirm that, the union will attempt to interview “members of New Orleans Saints management and coaching staff that were employed by the club in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”

It’s a smart move.  The NFL’s investigative techniques are, at times, suspect.  Faced with the prospect of having to let the world know that one or more of its teams from time to time cheats, the NFL often seems inclined to sweep things under the rug.

Consider, for example, the fact that the NFL investigated in 2010 the allegations that the Saints used a bounty system, and got nowhere.  How aggressively or thoroughly did the NFL push it the first time around?  Based on some of the tampering investigations that have been conducted in the past, there’s a good chance that the league office intended only to let the Saints know that they should quit doing whatever they were doing.  (Of course, if that was the goal, the NFL failed miserably.)

To the extent that Commissioner Roger Goodell hopes to get conclusive input from the NFLPA regarding the penalties to be meted out due to the bounty system, Goodell may have to wait longer than he’d like.  The NFLPA acknowledges that the league’s investigation unfolded “over the course of many months,” and the NFLPA has asked the league for “sufficient time to complete our internal review as counsel to the players.”

Balanced against the NFLPA’s desire to take an independent look at the evidence of wrongdoing that the league discovered is the union’s obligation to represent the interests of players who were targeted for injury — and those who participated in the targeting.  Indeed, the NFLPA has not yet concluded that players willingly participated in the bounty-related activities, despite findings from the league that seem to suggest otherwise.  “If the facts prove that players voluntarily and willingly participated in conduct that jeopardized health and safety, we will work with them and the league to put in place additional safeguards to prevent this in the future,” the statement reads.

The only unfortunate aspect of the statement appears in the second paragraph, where the NFLPA asserts that “[u]ntil the facts are known, judgment based on reports in the media is speculative.”  This ignores the reality that the NFL already has concluded that the Saints maintained a bounty system for three years.  Though the NFLPA may disagree with some of the facts (especially those relating to voluntary player involvement, such as linebacker Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to whoever knocks Brett Favre out of the NFC title game), the reports in the media come from reports generated by the league, and that information hardly constitutes speculation.

Moving forward, the biggest challenge for the NFLPA and the former litigator who leads it will be to resist the temptation to take an adversarial posture, blaming the Saints for everything and the players for nothing.  While that approach is perfectly suited to a court of law, the implementation of such a strategy in the court of public opinion will serve only to make fans and the media believe that the players are failing to take responsibility for their role in this mess.

The NFL and the NFLPA have a shared problem.  They need to work toward a shared solution, not one that will pick an unnecessary fight between management and labor.

44 responses to “NFLPA will do its own investigation of Saints bounties

  1. it’s ok the NFLPA is doing their own investigation, they must know that Williams, Peyton and Loomis have admitted to the bounties.

  2. Payton and Williams both need to be banned for intentionally attempting to cause injury to opposing players and opening the NFL and the Saints up to huge law suits.

    If this happened in any other profession they’d be thrown into prison.

  3. .

    The goal of every NFL investigation is the same. Protect the NFL as an institution.

    see : penn state


  4. When will Roger Goodell, Pete Morelli, and Morelli’s crew finally get investigated?
    If Goodell previously investigated this, what was he withholding and what is he hiding??

  5. so if every player that was injured playing the saints in 2009-2011 was injured by a legal hit, is that intentionally attempting to cause injury?

    vbe it’s short-sightedness like your post which is making this much more pathetic than it needs to be

  6. I’m sure some tough penalties will come from this…and if you believe that, then let me also tell you that Mark Sanchez will be good (not even great) QB…

  7. jenniferxxx says: Mar 7, 2012 6:45 PM

    I’ve got a dollar that says they find the players blameless.
    Now, now…you worked hard for those single dollar bills; keep it, it’s all yours “girl”.

  8. The League will shoulder zero blame….the NFLPA will find the players blameless and will fight to the death to defend the bounty hunters…the league will not want this to be a long and drawn out battle with the NFLPA and have no choice but to come down with full force against the one group with flimsy representation the team management and coaches….Williams will get a lifetime ban…Payton will be fined and suspended for half the season…and Loomis will be suspended for the entire season. smh

  9. The players will insist that they were coerced into doing this by the Saints coaching staff with only make the punishment against these coaches all the more severe. Now the Commish has to make a point to fans AND players through discipline and punitive action. The Saints are going to take a beating unlike ever before for all this.

  10. No one should play the game to intentionally injure the opponents.

    Williams should get a life suspension, reduced to two years if he gives up all the players who participated.

    Players should get between a game and a life suspension.

    There are $billions riding on keeping this a sport. It’s not cage fighting.

  11. THE NFLPA will target the Coaches and disregard the anilmalistic behvaior of intent to injure of the players. The thing they better not disregard the fact that it’s their players that were getting injured.

  12. This will be another foot-dragging investigation by the union to ensure those players involved in the actions are not suspended for the upcoming season.

    Katrinasafterbirth: Goodell has been hot and heavy on player safety–why do you think they dole out fines every week for unnescessary and late hits.

    Senanagan: You can only go on what you’ve been told. Apparently, you haven’t been reading what happened. The player who originally accused the Saints withdrew his statement. This time, apparently more people came forward. Why is Morelli to be investigated? You think he took a bribe not to call a late hit on Favre???

  13. How could a player involuntarily participate in bountygate? He was forced to make a borderline illegal hit and then forced to take the money?

  14. Is anyone as tired as I am about this already. The media, yes that includes PFT and the biggest Favre ass kisser Peter King, is getting ridiculous with the reporting on this and only making matters worse for themselves and the league. What the hell is an attempt to injure mean in football? On any damn play a player can be injured , intentionally or unintentionally. How do you prove intention?
    So a saints player says after a big hit ” pay me my money”, so what! It was Hargrove who said it and it was Hargrove who also had a one year contract. Could he have been talking about ” show me a new contract” , I beleive so.
    Hell I wish I would’ve known they had a bounty system, I wouldve contributed a few dollars myself for them to lay a hit on a few guys myself. To bad they couldn’t smack a few reporters in the process.
    They are guilty of putting a bounty on certain players but according to a report I read and I think it was on here , no players actually took the money. They would get their envelope and everyone would chant ” Give it Back” and they would put it back in the pile. That’s how it got to $50k. I want to see bank records of withdrawals and deposits on the players before I truly believe they rec’d it. No way does that kind of money come up without being able to be traced.

  15. “Pay me my money!!!”

    “X marks the spot.”

    “Do it again. Hit him.”

    “We got him, we got him. Favre is done!”

    Yeah… the players are completely innocent in this… it was a Greg Williams fault. (Sarcasm.)

  16. bounty, player pool – tomato, tomaato…YAWN! hey folks, this is the real world whether anyone wants to believe it or not…

  17. First the NFL’s investigative methods are suspect; then they are iron clad. Make up your mind. Apparently, the desire to rush to judgment on behalf of the media does not jive with the justice system we have all become accustomed to in this country. It must feel wonderful to be judge and jury but no one involved has had a chance to defend themselves. But please go ahead if this type of Joe McCarthy stuff floats your boat.

  18. for anyone saying that some of the hits were legal or you don’t understand how it really changed the way the players played, I have one thing to say: it is against the NFL rules. If the players and coaches don’t know how to follow the rules, they shouldnt play the game. bounties have been illegal forever, and the fact that certain people chose to ignore the rules and do what they want should mean heavy fines and suspensions.

    as someone who read countless attacks on James Harrison, and his inability to follow “new” rules put in place by the league, I am amazed some of you don’t think players and coaches should be punished for “old” rules.

  19. Wow…what.a.surprise, and 5x more surprising if they conclude drastically different findings.

    Think… trying to contest something with the DMV/RMV.

  20. If this happened in any other profession they’d be thrown into prison.


    Not a very good analogy… Most professions don’t approve of violently throwing people on the ground either.

  21. zn0rseman says:
    Mar 7, 2012 7:56 PM
    “Pay me my money!!!”

    “X marks the spot.”

    “Do it again. Hit him.”

    “We got him, we got him. Favre is done!”

    Yeah… the players are completely innocent in this… it was a Greg Williams fault. (Sarcasm.)

    All your whining and carping and unrealistic disciplining you’re demanding the league to take against the perps involved is only further adding to the image of what a bunch of bed wetters you purple toads are. Please keep it up………..I love it!

  22. When the IRS starts asking questions on unpaid taxes, the truth will come out. Anyone who doesn’t tell the truth to the Feds will be looking at prison time. There are too many involved for a cover up.

  23. The NFLPA might actually like it when teams cheat the salary cap to give players extra money, but obviously putting players health at risk is a serious matter.

    This is much more serious than filming play calling from the sidelines rather than the stands, and even though Goodell would like fans to think signal stealing doesn’t happen anymore, every fan sees every coordinator covering his mouth when calling in plays even today.

    Offering bounties and cheating the cap cannot be allowed to continue.

  24. Did somebody mention Peter King? If the NFL wants to remove revolting images from its world then it should banish PK and his enormous, sweaty man-breasts. Thankfully he wears a Manzier (or Bro if you prefer) because if a single drop of sweat were to escape from beneath one of those things it would cause a tsunami that would make Fukushima look like a spilled glass of water.

  25. How are they going to respond to this one?? A union who prides itself on player safety importance has its own members trying to eliminate each other. Hows that foot taste??

  26. Times like this, I am reminded how smarmy the NFLPA can be. Instead of taking the high road and trying to protect the thousands of players that will pass through the sport in the next few decades, they get into the dirt and cast aspersions on anyone who isn’t a player.

    I’m not saying that Williams, Payton, and Loomis shouldn’t face penalties, but don’t pretend that anything about this system was “coercive.”
    1) certainly there were players who were not involved, in any given year
    2) whether or not you changed the way you played the game, you didn’t have to take a payout from the bounty pool if the coach offered you one after a game
    3) Look at 99.9% of the comments coming out of former players… how they call this a small thing, no big deal, and as having no effect on the way they play the game… sounds like it’s “coercive” only to the extent that “coercive” means “exonerating.”

    If I’m Goodell, I don’t let the NFLPA drag their feet on this. The NFLPA can reinvestigate to their hearts content, but they do that after. Right now, I would say to Dee Smith, right now I want you just to review our findings, and for the purposes of discussion accept that all of our findings are legitimate. *If* everything we found in our report is true, what would your advice be for me and for the League regarding punishment?

    Then I give them long enough to review the documentation. Maybe a month.

    Then, so long as I am satisfied with the veracity of the investigation and findings my people have produced, I hand down the punishments… even before the NFLPA finishes their investigation. I release a report of the findings (probably smaller than the thousands of pages the real report must run) for public consumption to support the suspensions and fines, and I leave the NFLPA trying to explain how/why they need to defend a player who was found to have participated in the bounty system and who said, for instance, “Pay me my money!” after he hit Brett Favre.

  27. The players need to step up here and tell what went on under Peyton and Williams in New Orleans. Williams has promoted this for how many teams and the head coach knew this for the Saints. There should be consideration that both are kicked out of the NFL. That may be harsh but God-del has promoted cleaning up the league…well here is a situation to show your stuff.

  28. How are they going to respond to this one?? A union who prides itself on player safety importance has its own members trying to eliminate each other. Hows that foot taste??


    Probably the same way as the league that claims to care about player safety and yet:

    1) Sells dvd’s featuring big hits

    2) Wants to add two more games

    3) Glorifies nasty hits both in dvd sales and in their own network programming (NFL’s Top 100 anyone?)

    4) Is currently selling the dvd for the Saints-Vikes game in question on

    5) Fought concussion research every step of the way and still has not made any kind of equipment change mandatory

    6) Still allows offensive players to lower their heads and spear defenders

    7) Has made zero effort to minimize the head trauma on every single play that linemen endure

    8) Has fought any significant contribution to the benefits of retired players who destroyed their bodies and brains to lay the foundation for what the league is today

    Say what you will about the NFLPA, but there is no bigger party of hypocrisy in this than the NFL league office.

  29. If I get coerced into something, I have still made my decision and am guilty. If the NFLPA is so concerned about player safety, why haven’t they looked into this in past years. With all the pressure to get money from the NFL for retired players who now have medical conditions from their playing days, this doesn’t look good for the NFLPA that they have not addressed this before. The players are supposedly saying they know these systems exist throughout the league. Why haven’t the player reps, who are players themselves, brought this to the NFLPA before?

    NFLPA: “now that our little game is exposed, we have to act like we care”

  30. Now that we have both the NFL and the NFLPA conducting their own separate investigations, you can be sure there will be a Federal investigation on top of these to make sure all of the investigations are being conducted properly….

    It’s fair to say these men and women have all the TIME and MONEY in the world on their hands to review this situation.

    You can be sure now they will all end up in court, ensuring the lawyers and judges get their cut.

  31. Unions are founded under a collective (socialistic) ideal that has a difficult fit in a business where the workers are paid based on their level of competitive performance against other members of the same union. Under this scenario, like it our not, the practice of paying a bounty is not that difficult of a stretch and undoubtedly has been going on for decades to a degree. As much as the NFLPA denies their awareness of the bounties being paid, common sense would say otherwise.

    The NFLPA investigation is pure PR grand standing and to cover up the level of knowledge the union had of this practice all along. The union will lose some credibility and rightly so.

    IMO this is purposely being over-hyped and sensationalized by the league to weaken the union and to start to position the league where they can eliminate it (union) for the primary reason of getting the government out of the NFL’s business. I hope the league is successful.

  32. I believe that the union is grandstanding on this. They want to drag this out as long as possible so any “guilty” players get to participate in the upcoming league year. The draft will go on as planned and the union will try to delay any and all punishments to the utmost.

  33. Seems to me like the NFLPA might have a conflict of interest here. How can it investigate some of its members for allegedly putting up a bounty on other of its members?

  34. gb4mno,

    You need to lay off the Fox News. Unions exist because corporations have a long, ugly history of subjecting their work forces to dangerous work environments, barely livable wages, and no benefits. The government is not behind the NFLPA. The government has largely stayed OUT of the NFL’s business. But it can get into the NFL’s business by taking away their anti-trust exemption. “Socialism” is the knee jerk battle cry of the modern ignorant and uneducated conservative. At no other time in modern human history have the serfs stood up and demanded that corporations retain the power to keep them in subservience. Corporations don’t have your interests at heart, they never have, and they never will.

  35. The NFL will hammer a couple of scapegoats and slam the team a draft pick or two.

    They will be extremely reluctant to pursue any other charges of widespread use of these bounties unless it merely hammers the same culprits they already have marked.

    In the spygate affair even with notables like Parcells and Johnson among others saying it was commonly done they didn’t even call them in and demand they elaborate.

    This whole thing is a joke with the NFL simply scratching the surface and calling it done.

  36. The bounties were ineffective since the majority of opposing team starters finished the games. It points to a mediocre defense, a mediocre defensive coordinator and little motivation to play to their potential. Yes, I’m talking about the New Orleans Saints defense.

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