Last Friday, the NFL revealed that the Saints had maintained for three seasons a bounty system. Earlier this week, former Saints tackle Kyle Turley called out quarterback Drew Brees, wanting to know what Brees knew about the situation.
Brees has addressed the subject in a letter posted at his website.
“There is no place in the National Football League, or any sport played at any level, for players to conspire, to be coerced, or to be incentivized to intentionally injure another player,” Brees writes. “I did not participate in any Bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence. I have spent the last several years as an Executive Committee Member of the NFLPA making health and safety a priority and I am proud of the advancements we’ve made and will continue to make.”
I have a ton of respect for Drew, and I personally like him. But saying that he didn’t know of the “real existence” of the bounty program implies that he suspected something or heard something or perhaps should have known something about it, and that he didn’t ask any questions.
Look, I’m not trying to put words in his mouth. But he specifically chose the phrase “real existence.” And denying knowledge of the “real existence” of the bounty system makes roughly as much sense as asking Col. Nathan Jessup whether Private First Class William Santiago was in “grave danger.”
“As a leader of our football team, I feel comfortable in stating that I know well the integrity of our organization from the ownership level, to management, our head coach, and the players on our team,” Brees writes. “We, as Saints players, pride ourselves on playing this game with honor and hold ourselves to a very high standard. We also share a great sense of responsibility to our community and to each other, a strong belief in our purpose, a resiliency to overcome adversity and a work ethic and commitment to leave things better than we found them.”
Again, I like Drew. I like him a lot. I’ve said several times in the last two weeks that, over the last six years, he’s been the best quarterback in the NFL, better than Brady or either Manning. But Drew may want to double check his sources when it comes to the “integrity” of the organization.
The NFL has concluded — not alleged, but concluded — that the Saints used a bounty system for three years. The facts as determined by the league also demonstrate that multiple members of the organization lied when the league investigated the situation in 2010.
‘To our fans, please reserve judgment until the investigation is complete and the facts in their entirety are known,” Brees concludes. “We are all working diligently to find the truth in this matter and if the facts prove there was improper behavior, we will hold ourselves accountable. Until that time, we will stand together and remain united as an organization.”
One more time: The NFL already has determined that it happened. The league’s investigation is complete. The facts are known.
The situation becomes even more interesting when considering that Brees, based on the letter, seems to be hoping that further investigation will exonerate everyone. The NFLPA, based on its recent statement, seems to be accusing Saints coaches and management of wrongdoing and eventually hoping via further investigation to pin it all on the Saints and exonerate the players.