NFL’s “independent” counsel really isn’t


When the NFL initially pulled the sheet off the Saints’ bounty scandal on March 2, the allegations seemed highly credible because it wasn’t in the league’s interests to wallow in the fact that one of its teams had cheated during a playoff run that culminated in a Super Bowl win.

But as the process has unfolded, especially as it relates to the players, there has been too much of a “take our word for it” quality to the NFL’s comments and representations regarding the evidence that supposedly supports the conclusion that money was contributed and/or received by players for inflicting injuries on opponents.

We’ll have more to say on this subject over the weekend.  For now, the point is that the use of an outside lawyer to provide an “independent” review of the evidence doesn’t reflect the kind of “independent” look at the evidence that is needed.  The NFL, stubbornly resistant to the notion of a second set of eyes scrutinizing the decisions of Commissioner Roger Goodell, is now trying to persuade the media and, in turn, the public, that former prosecutor Mary Jo White served as a genuine second set of eyes.

Though none of this means that there is, or isn’t, enough evidence to justify the suspensions imposed on four players earlier this week, an effort to substitute proof with someone vouching for the proof is the kind of thing that raises natural and reasonable suspicions about the true quality of the proof.

So why not just give us all the proof?

For more on the “independent” counsel dynamic, here’s a slice of Friday’s PFT Live.

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68 responses to “NFL’s “independent” counsel really isn’t

  1. Why should they give the public proof. Do prosecutors hand you the evidence in a criminal case? No. We don’t hear about it until it goes to trial. That may actually happen here.

  2. Mike your just too eager for the evidence, that you, as a lawyer are questioning a former US Attorneys ethics because of who is paying her fee.
    I’m sure Goodell has been very thorough with this, as history has shown, especially with the importance of this investigation. Your Media passion is clouding your judgement in my opinion.

    Rock on Mike…patience

  3. I count at least 4 times the NFL release states “multiple sources” – as a lawyer and journalist you should know it’s not wise to release the evidence right now.(pending litigation) As for the sources – what if they want anonymity…hello?

  4. Doesn’t she look like that uptight detective in Kindergarten Cop? lol

  5. Because they don’t have to show you proof, that’s why. Get over yourself, this isn’t a court of law, its an employer with a signed collective bargaining agreement that’s being followed. Not everything in life needs lawyers so get off your high horse.

  6. You know what, I’m really tired of this. Everything has to have some kind of conspiracy behind it these days. The Sunshine Act does not apply to the NFL. All punishment issues go through Goodell. The NFLPA agreed to it, the players who have been suspended agreed to it. The only issue that could possibly be argued is the differing lengths of the suspensions.

  7. Yeah Goddell, you are gonna have to “show us the money” or we (the public) will think that you have just perpetrated a total fraud on the New Orleans Saints. It’s time to put up or shut up.

  8. What Mike’s doing is good tho, always questioning everything and insisting on transparency. There’s always a risk run of shenanigans when ‘boss’ orgs get totalitarian-like power: ex, see Redskins/Cowboys CapGate.

  9. What possible, reasonable reason could the NFL have for making this all up?The only people that believe that are whiny ass saints fans and morons

  10. NFL delayed the penalty after it realized the players were playing the smart-a** by refusing to tell their part of story to the league. They did that cos they don’t want to deny(which the league confirmed from the coaches and others) but also didn’t want to confess which will corner them. The league was right to call for legal experts to neutralize PA’s tactics. In the situation, the league is less probable to disclose all the evidences up until it feel comfortable the PA is going to use it.

  11. Sportmentary said: Why should they give the public proof. Do prosecutors hand you the evidence in a criminal case?

    You’re missing the point Sportmentary. In the NFL’s court, Goodell is the judge, jury and executioner. He’s already decided the case and he wants all the Lemmings in fandom and the NFL-controlled media (ESPN, CBS, Peter King at Sports Illustrated, etc.) to just follow along and “take his word” for it. Now that some are questioning the evidence or saying “show me,” the NFL is pulling out typical P.R. approaches like overstating their “independent” counsel’s independence, giving the impression that Hargrove admitted to bounties in his statement when he likely admitted (according to Florio) to a “pay for performance” program just like Payton, Williams and Fajita did. Of course, most fans and reporters keep stating that the Saints’ coaches and players have confessed to a bounty/pay to injure program and not one apparently has.

    My hunch as a P.R. professional is that the NFL is about to get a terrible black eye. If the player’s union, public and some mainstream media outlets (what a great story this would be for HBO’s Inside Sports!!!) start seriously questioning the validity of the data, the league will look defensive and many will assume they were just trying to make this “pay for performance” thing much bigger than it was to show how the league was going to come down hard for player safety.

    Contrastly, if the NFL ever shows the evidence and it’s not nearly as bulletproof as depicted, then it will expose how the league tried to manipulate fans and the media to divert attention away from the lawsuits and/or other teams with similar programs (which is my hunch). Once exposed, the public and media will start questioning other things. Either way, it’s bad news for Goodell in the public image department.

    The bottom line here — and even you Saints haters should admit it — is that if the league had the goods, logic would dictate that they show it or share it; and don’t give me the line about “they are trying to protect the so-called whistleblowers. ” They could release specific information without saying who provided it…things such as “On Oct. 12, 2011, a source, player XXXX stated that Jonathan Vilma received $2,500 for a knock out/cart off of player XXXXX.”

    If they had evidence that solid, why wouldn’t they release it now that there are so many questions about the investigation’s validity? Instead they are obviously “cherry-picking” what to put out, leaking “league controlled” statements, trying to impress the public and press with their “independent counsel” and parsing words.

  12. When faced with lawsuits by 1,500 players that threaten to bankrupt the league based on allegations that it put profits over player safety, what better way to demonstrate the league’s commitment to player safety than to manufacture a scandal in which it could come down like a ton of bricks on its own Super Bowl Champion for endangering other the safety of other players with a bounty system. It is indeed in the “league’s interests to wallow in the fact that one of its teams had cheated during a playoff run that culminated in a Super Bowl win” under these circumstances–taint one year’s champion (a team with virtually no historical legacy from one of the league’s smaller markets), in order to ensure the long-term viability of the sport. Offering the so-called “evidence” to public view would expose the league’s charade for what it is.

  13. Before anyone had the chance to see it, Goodell destroyed the evidence when the Pats were caught cheating.

    He’ll do the same this time, and the media halfwits will applaud his “bravery”, again.

  14. NFL has independent council that isn’t independent? Why that’s like saying the Saints are the lipstick on a pig known as player safety… Wait a minute… ;P

    Anyway, you get my point. No big shocker.

  15. So now we have the word of judge, jury, executioner, and inside contractor to all of the above. I think the NFL knew that a leak was going to take the story public so they could not brush it under the rug. So the next best option was to act quickly and punish harshly and set the example, while brushing under the rug all the extra complexities like that other teams did the same, other teams lied and denied when they did the same, and players who cooperate felt either coerced or pressured to seem enthusiastic about the program by Greg Williams, who was the real root cause of the issue but was too low profile to set a heroic enough example against.

  16. It’s evident by many posts made by fans on PFT that all Roger has to do is jiggle his zipper and they’ll drop to their knees.

    I’m all for a separate party reviewing his actions. If you let the “fans” tell it, Roger is infallible.

  17. I’m so sleepy, I don’t understand what I just wrote. LOL. Lemme try again…

    The NFL is being sued by over 1,000 former players about brain trauma and lack of player safety in general. The NFL is fighting their potentially tarnished image in the media by crusading against a “Bounty Scandal”, that while it did occur, was by no means the Sopranos operation the NFL would like you to believe.

    Goodell would do ANYTHING to not have THE SHIELD tarnished on HIS WATCH. Would that include paying off “independent council” to add credibility to a somewhat flimsy case? Possible. The man did have VIDEO TAPES of cheating destroyed.

    Which brings me to another point… Why did Belichick get to coach the next year? Because there’s no lawsuit against the NFL for taping division rivals’ walk-throughs.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it

  18. The best thing that ever happened to Australian Rules was the decision to set up an independent commission for on and off field discipline. The commissioner and his board set the rules that everyone has to follow and then the administration of those rules is run by the independent group. Every so often somebody gets off a charge on a technicality but that only serves to tighten the rules. All controversy is taken out of discipline. Also confidentiality is respected so failed drug tests stay confidential. When a player is suspended for failing a test we rarely find out what it was for. This keeps our commissioners nose out of an area that is full of conflict of interest traps and leaves him free to screw up the game in different ways.

  19. Of course she’s not objective; neither is the attorney for the NFLPA. But you can bet your bottom dollar Roger had all his ducks in a row (sorry, Coach Payton, for borrowing your phrase) before he handed down the discipline as he had to know appeals would be forthcoming.

    As for going public with the proof, neither prosecutors or a private corporation (which the NFL is) needs to show anyone diddly squat unless and until it winds up in court. Yes, prosecutors and defense attorneys sit down and go over their case before trial, but to think the prosecutor shows the defense all the cards they’re holding before trial is ludicrous.

  20. Sportmentary:

    Your analogy is off in teo major ways. First, in a criminal case, the prosecutors are not also the judge, jury, and the court of appeals, as Roger Goodell is in the NFL. Second, the prosecution IS required to turn over ALL evidence to the defense prior to a trial. Goodell has passed sentence on coaches, players, and team without revealing all of the evidence to those parties.

    If the evidence was so overwhelmingly in Goodell’s favor as he claims, don’t you think he’d release it to prove his point?

  21. As someone that would love to see justice prevail I agree. I’m not even a saints fan but the burden of evidence is on the prosecution and at this point there has been no real evidence shown in this case whatsoever. All the commish has to do is show the evidence that he has in order to justify these suspensions because right now it just seems the the prosecution is going off of heresay. I know they want to protect their sources but these individuals could be ppl that has a vendetta against this team as in someone that was cut/fired from the organization. It really seems like Goodell is just doing this at a time when the NFL is getting sued because of the concussion issue and he’s doing it to make it seem like the NFL is doing everything it to prevent player injury which is rediculos especially when u trying to go to an 18 game season. Just do everyone a favor and show the evidence so this drama can finally end Goodell. It’s time for this to end, but the good news is that we don’t have to hear about Tebow as much.

  22. Since the lockout last year exposed you as a shill for the NFLPA, you’ve decided it’s no longer in your best interest to even try and hide it? I swear, this site gets worse every day, because of your arrogance and rapidly growing ego.

    Conspiracy to commit a crime will receive punishment even if the perp was not successful in completion of the crime, so how is it any different that the Saints players were simply too inept with their attempts to injure and not successful.

    Due to sleezebag attorneys, semantics has gained success as a defense in a courtroom, but in the workplace (and the real world) it’s seen for what it is…. total bull crap.

    Their guilt is obvious to everyone, except Saints fans, the NFLPA and the writers of PFT…

    What kind of message are you sending to the youth of this country? Committing a crime is acceptable and possibly even profitable if you can weasel around the facts with semantics and bull crap?

    What you should be pointing out with all your legaleaze, are the potential avenues of recourse that Warner, Favre and the rest of the “targeted” players have available to them. I know that if I were one of those players, I’d be pursuing all that I could, to prove their attempts to end someone’s career.

  23. Florio got one right. As far as I know, Mary Jo White never did anything in her career with an objective eye.

  24. The worst part isn’t that it’s not being made public — it’s that the evidence isn’t even being given to the NFLPA confidentially. How are they supposed to have an effective appeal without access to the evidence? Outrageous

  25. Mary Jo is simply paid counsel of the NFL. Was never a possibility that she would not argue the NFL’s argument. Are fans really that stupid though to think it is just ok for the NFL to claim that all their mountain of evidence proves one clear thing, while they refuse to show the evidence? Even when a player such as Vilma has his career in jeopardy over this? It is beyond silly and actually evidence of a man whose head has grown way too big to any longer think logically. Goodell is acting as a dictator and needs to be fired or the NFL suffer. Most fans are fed up with the NFL right now, with the exception of the actual games. Goodell should focus on the games and not getting his mug in front of the cameras and flexing his muscles all off season. His ego is out of control.

  26. So even though the letter submitted by Anthony Hargrove was submitted by the UNION, NOT THE LEAGUE, where he admitted being part of the organization of the bounty system, you STILL want to be a schill for the players, and your hatred for Goodell is so transparent it’s not funny.

  27. Mike…just watched the video and I could not agree more…if the NFL has the goods on the Saints players, just put it out there…uncut…unedited.

    Earlier this week, I commented that something just smells rotten concerning the NFL case and how they are handling it…the secrecy…protecting witnesses identity.

    To Roger Goodell, I say…JUST SHOW US THE EVIDENCE.

    Now what the hell is wrong with that request?

  28. Cheated?? by knocking out the other teams players?? like a boxer cheated when he knocked out his opponent? “please mr boxer, please don’t know me out” are you kidding me? it’s football. don’t want to get hit hard? go do ballet. Hey Mr “GOD”dell, the comment by Bart Scott in 2009 after he injured Reggie Bushe’s ankle by putting some extra “HOT SAUCE” did not qualify as intentionally hurting an opponent?? Did Scott get punished???NO!!!! Did any of the Saints players get fined significantly during the 3 yrs in questioned? NO…

  29. Isn’t the League a private enterprise? They, and their Commissioner aren’t bound to display the evidence until compelled by a ruling.

    If an employee of the League or one of its constituent franchises wants to sue for wrongful punishment, that may compel a public recording of the evidence or lack thereof.

    The ball is in Vilma’s court. Until then, Goddell is untouchable.

  30. The NFL is a private enterprise run by a CEO(roger goodell) and a board (owners), why do they have to explain decisions like this to outsiders, If you don’t like it stop investing (buying tickets, merchandise and so on) in it. To suspend 4 players a g.m. and a couple of coaches to protect almost 2000 other employees is the least bit irresponsable.

  31. The NFL is required by law to protect its own employee’s from recrimination. If an employee of the NFL – team member, testifies to the NFL and provides information, said person must be protected by the NFL by disclosure. Its the same as client/lawyer confidentiality.

    The independent person is just that. A person paid to weight the evidence and report what they found.
    Whether its good of bad news. They are paid for their time and not for their views.

  32. As a parent with authority to punish one’s children, most people would scoff at the notion that they had to provide all the evidence to justify their punishment to the public at large.

    The players agreed in collective bargaining that Goodell has the authority to punish them.

    If you feel so strongly that the evidence must be made public (you’re starting to sound like your preaching, by the way), then I demand all the evidence for Florio Jr.’s next grounding. I want to make sure that you’re not being too strict.

  33. Interesting… Post a little truth in here and said truth is immediately removed from public view.

    Interesting indeed.

  34. You’re not punishing children, you’re taking millions of dollars and a year off a guy’s career. For that I don’t think it unreasonable to see the justification for that level of punishment. Why are people so afraid of what the evidence will show?

  35. @ Alimog: The NFL is a private enterprise, not the court of law. Judicial laws are not applicable to those entities until the case actually goes to the court. And even then, the judge can be requested to seal the proceedings, which is entirely likely since the bulk of the evidence is likely in the form of sworn testimony of whistle blowers, and their identities/safety are more important than Mike’s inane desire to see all the evidence.

    I’m sure Mike felt the same way about Spygate, and I’m pretty sure he got nothing out of that deal either.

  36. @mornelithe, the point isn’t that the NFL is required by law to publicly disclose the evidence. It’s that hiring purportedly “independent” counsel is the NFL’s attempt to convince the public that there is overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing based on the “objective” opinion of this highly respected former prosecutor. The problem is that she’s no more impartial than any lawyer retained by a large corporation to represent their interests–her client is the NFL. The only way to effectively convince the public that there is in fact such objectively overwhelming proof is to reveal that proof.

  37. @Shzastl: No, they are not. Until this goes to court, this is a matter of a company reprimanding it’s employees. That’s the thing that people are missing here. Just because lawyers are involved, doesn’t mean this is a judicial inquiry, because it is not.

    When people are fired, or suspended from work, is the public always made aware of the reasons, or evidence behind that matter? No, not unless it goes to the courts. And this incident has yet to be seen or heard by ANY judge.

    This situation does not fall under any disclosure laws. Therefore, the bellyaching about giving the public all the evidence, is merely people not quite understanding reality.

  38. Hey guys, the NFL is a private business, and it has the right to enforce it’s rules and bylaws as it sees fit. The press and the general public have absolutley no “right” to know all of the information involved. Florio knows this full well, but he has to write about something.

    There is almost certainly very sensitive material in the league’s reports detailing who exposed the bounty system, and which individuals cooperated with the NFL’s investigation. These persons could be at risk for injury or other types of retribution if they were exposed for trying to end the Saints’ bounty program.

    Florio also knows that the NFL (and especially the players who were paid bounties) do not want law enforcement involved in their affairs. Can you imagine what anarchy it would be if there were a criminal investigation after every injury or fight on the field?

    Complain all you want about Roger Goodell being the “judge, jury and executioner,” but the NFL and the NFLPA both agreed on the system.

  39. @ Shzastl: As I said in my original post, take Spygate for example. The NFL destroyed hard evidence in that case, and technically speaking if it were as you say, the New England Patriots could’ve filed suit against the NFL, following the destruction of said evidence for violating it’s rights. Yes, they would have to have lied, but because the evidence is gone, there’s no proof it was anything but a blank tape because Goodell destroyed the evidence, right?

    That’s the point, neither Spygate, or Bountygate are subject to disclosure laws, because they were handled internally by the business itself.

  40. @mornelithe – “When people are fired, or suspended from work, is the public always made aware of the reasons, or evidence behind that matter?”

    No, but the person being fired is, which the NFL has categorically refused to do. Jon Vilma found out about his suspension from Sportscenter for crying out loud. There is a boatload of fishiness about this whole thing and the only way the NFL can dispel it is to allow the participants to view the evidence (or lack thereof) in person.

  41. @ Acetw: Actually, you’re wrong. Vilma’s attorney requested a meeting with Gooddell (Vilma was supposed to attend), which Gooddell agreed to. And then Vilma changed his mind and declined the meeting. There is also no proof other than heresay (From the guilty party) that Gooddell never met with Vilma prior to the punishment being levied.

    Not sure if you’re aware, but if you are going to get fired, or suspended, not going to meet the boss doesn’t stop that from happening.

    Again, people are just upset that the public isn’t being given the full facts to this case. Sorry, but that’s just not going to happen. Not now, and likely not ever.

    It’s also entirely likely that Vilma will never be given the names of the original whistle blowers. Why? Because their stories have already been corroborated by Hargrove (in writing, given to the NFL by the NFLPA), and if Williams ever wants to work in the NFL again, it’s likely that he too, will add further first-hand testimony to this case.

    Lastly, in the case of a company being told of misconduct by it’s employees, from another employee internally, that persons identity is typically kept private. It’s why they have independent HR departments, for taking anonymous complaints/tips etc…

  42. “So why not just give us all the proof?”

    Two things-

    1. Because Roger Goodell isn’t required to.

    2. If the evidence is as damning as Goodell makes it out to be it might actually be in the players and coaches/coordinators involved best interests that he holds on to that evidence and it never sees the light of day. Its possible the reason Goodell is holding on to that evidence is to protect said involved person(s) from further punishment/ legal action outside of the NFL. And further more if I’m Vilma or any of the other players/ coaches, and I believe I’m innocent, I’m not preparing to appeal the NFL’s punishment, I’m lawyering up for a defamation suit. Goodell has very good reasons to hold his cards tight to his chest. Damage control being the most important.

  43. @mornelithe – You’re partially correct. Vilma was told by the NFLPA not to meet with the commissioner at that time because one of the nfl’s ‘investigators’ who has been flagged for misconduct in the past was going to be in attendance. In any case, if you back out of one meeting with the ‘boss’, does that somehow disqualify you from being told the specifics of what led to a punishment? I’ll argue all day long that it doesn’t.

    “It’s also entirely likely that Vilma will never be given the names of the original whistle blowers.”

    And I still don’t have a clue where some of you are getting this idea. Is it something y’all are just making up? Nobody involved in this has asked about the “whistle blowers”. They just want to see the evidence of wrongdoing that led to their punishment. The tide is quickly turning in their favor on this also. Not just from fans but from fellow athletes and reporters too.

  44. @ Acetw: That makes absolutely no sense, especially if meeting with Gooddell can somehow contribute to a lessening of your punishment. And, just because an investigator was ‘flagged’ for misconduct in the past, doesn’t mean his attorney isn’t capable of representing his client (his attorney would have been present for this meeting…that they requested).

    If you back out of a meeting with your boss, that in itself is grounds for dismissal. Heck, making an appointment with your boss, and then backing out of it, especially under these circumstances in itself is grounds for some kind of punishment.

    Full disclosure of evidence would mean that people are asking for the names of the whistle blowers and their testimony. Mike Florio has not stated otherwise.

    There is no tide to turn here, until it goes to court, period. As the duly appointed boss of the NFL (By the owners, and agreed upon by the players), Gooddell, by law, has every right to continue as he has. The only possible exception to this, is if Gooddell feels the image of the NFL is being tarnished by him withholding the information, and I posit the NFL’s image has already been tarnished by the Saints behavior over the past 3 years.

  45. @mornelithe – I seriously don’t get how it ‘makes no sense’, but to each their own. And I don’t know what fascist organization you work for, but informing your boss you will not attend a meeting that you yourself requested should not be grounds for anything. At all. Ever. The idea that it would is patently ridiculous unless you work for the likes of Ikeman or Goebbels.
    And full disclosure of the evidence is exactly what it says it is. Full Disclosure of the Evidence. Evidence, as you can see if you look up the definition is: “The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” Who gave up said evidence is only relevant if the evidence is proven to be faulty or to have been tampered with in some way. A real investigation would most likely uncover said faulty info, but we all know the nfl itself is incapable of mounting a real investigation of anything since they can only have their own best interests at the core of it. (Conflict of interest and all that…) This is why the nfl stayed far away from the recent wiretapping accusation against Mickey Loomis. Because the state police (an outside, impartial, not-on-the-nfl’s-payroll investigative unit) was investigating on their own and do not have ‘siding with the nfl’ as one of their mission goals.

  46. Nobody is saying Goodell has a legal obligation to turn over the evidence. We all understand that. But until he does the Saints players and the media have every right to criticize Goodell’s handling of it. You don’t know what the Saints have done over the past three years, so how can you posit anything? Go ahead and name one play where you know somebody was hurt because of the bounty system. We’ll wait. (Hint: We can’t see Hargrove’s testimony and in his statement he said he wasn’t trying to hurt Favre.)

  47. @ Acetw: It entirely depends on the reason for the meeting, in this particular case…it would be in your best interest to attend the meeting to clear your name (if possible). Not doing so, shows extremely poor judgement, yet another reason a company can fire you.

    Beyond that, you’re more than welcome to continue barking up this tree as long as you want. You can join Florio on this one. It won’t change a thing. You’re not getting any information you’re not entitled to by law, unless Gooddell feels its in the NFL’s best interest. You can label them with Nazi-esque names all you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that neither you, nor Florio, have any authority over this matter.

  48. @mornelithe — again, the issue is not whether there is any legal basis to FORCE the NFL to disclose information. You are 100% correct, the NFL can discipline players in any way it wishes and can tell the fans they have no right to any information. But here, Goodell HAS determined its in the NFL’s best interest to try to convince the public that the NFL acted fairly based on real evidence, which is why they have brought in supposedly “independent” counsel. The point is that this is not going to accomplish the NFL’s goal, because she is paid by the NFL so fans don’t believe that she is actually objective. If the NFL wants to accomplish its goal of proving it to the public — which again, it has no legal obligation to do, but has chosen to try — then it’s going to take more than the word of its “independent” counsel, because the NFL is her regular client and she has an obvious conflict of interest.

  49. @mornelithe – The reason doesn’t matter, and it still stands that if you’re working for a company that would fire you for such a thing you really need to move out of whatever country you work in or find other employment. And I did not label anyone with Nazi-esque names, I merely drew a correlation based upon YOUR statements, but it is quite telling that you took it the way you did by default. Bring up some “Nazi-esque” names and the first thought in your head is “NFL”. Very interesting….
    Besides all that, neither Florio nor I have suggested any authority over anything so I’m not sure what led you to that conclusion…. Maybe reaching for something, anything to defend your own stance, perhaps?

  50. Frankly, if Florio is correct that the NFL is her regular client on other matters, it seems unethical for her to present herself to the public (or allow the NFL to present her) as “independent” counsel.

  51. @ Acetw: In a way I will agree that the NFL is attempting to show the public some of the right in what they’re doing, but I think they’re doing it just to show the fans, players, and management of the other 31 teams that they’re trying to do right by this situation. It’s all about perception of image, really. Personally, I think they’re releasing just enough information, while not tipping their hand fully.

    I wouldn’t presume to know why, but who knows, it could be far worse than we know. Understand? I can see how this is probably frustrating for some, but honestly, I just don’t care. The Saints did bad, and they’re getting punished for it. Will we ever see all the information? No. Will those who’re accused/guilty? Unlikely, but they’ll probably see more than we ever will (and probably already have).

    I just don’t see what the big deal is, nor do I agree that ‘all the evidence’ should be made public, as Florio keeps clamoring for.

  52. Major corporations don’t have to take any employees crap. And they _love_ giving the impression that you’re expendable. This isn’t an isolated thing, many of them feel this way. It keeps you pushing yourself harder and harder in order to avoid either coming under their gaze, or being replaced.

    HP is one such company, EDS (before HP bought them out) is another. These aren’t just small entities, they’re massive.

    And you’d be surprised as to how many companies function this way, because they can. Is it right? Nope. But they do it anyway. That’s how they’ve forced worker productivity to rise 100%+ in the years of the financial crisis, while increasing profits to record levels, keeping wages stagnant, and not hiring new people. I’m really being honest here, this is common practice for most Big Businesses.

  53. @ Shzastl: Yes and no, I mean, it doesn’t look ‘good’, but you have to remember, by law, lawyers have many rules surrounding them. And if this were to ever go to court, and she were to be used as an independent, and was found to be lying…she’d be disbarred in a heartbeat.

    I know, it’s naive to trust any lawyer, in anything (Florio’s a Lawyer, isn’t he?), but it really depends on what the NFL hired her to do. If they hired her simply to analyze the evidence they have, and give them a no BS assessment of what they have…shouldn’t that believable?

  54. @mornelithe – All in all, “I” want to know the truth of the matter for my own selfish reasons, but I simply cannot see any reason for the nfl to withhold this information from the players involved in the punishment unless they’re inviting a lawsuit. And you’re absolutely right, it could be worse than imagined and if they do let it out and it is worse, then the players, coaches and whoever will suffer more for it. I won’t defend what I know is wrong but I will defend someone’s right to know whether or not it’s wrong and whether they’re being accused without merit.
    I will also concede that information doesn’t ‘need’ to be made public but if the nfl wants to clear all this up so people know they’re in the right (without just saying “we’re right” and leaving it at that) then they’ll do more than the nothingness they’ve done so far.

  55. @ AceTW: I understand the desire to want to know, I really do. I personally don’t care, just as long as appropriate punishment is levied.

    I will say this though, if it IS worse, again it falls under perception of image. The NFL represents a MASSIVE amount of money, and Gooddell, the owners, team management and their players certainly do not want to see their image tarnished any further. They’re constantly wanting to draw in new people, and that typically isn’t going to happen if you keep making the news for underhanded events, such as this.

    In all likelihood, the reasoning is damage control. They probably feel that the more evidence they present, the NFL will be viewed that much more negatively. But, who knows, I could totally be wrong.

    If this DOES go to court, then the entire thing changes. Because then the NFL will be forced into full disclosure, and the offending parties are certainly due their chance to address their accusers. But, right now, at this stage of the incident, the NFL simply does not have to do anything more than they already have.

  56. There are ethical rules against lawyers making false and misleading statements in their professional capacities, which is not limited strictly to court cases. Sure there is nothing wrong with the NFL hiring her to review the evidence. What gets a little dicier is the extent she is making public statements (or she is going along with the NFL’s public statements) that she is truly an “independent” party. I’m not sure if she is saying it, the NFL, or if it’s just a term that the press has decided to use. And if she is saying it, whether it could be considered
    false or misleading would depend on the extent that she is the NFL’s lawyer on other matters, which Florio discussed in that video clip on this page.

  57. So this is what she said:

    “I represent the NFL. Since I have come back into private practice, I have advised the NFL on a number of matters, including other significant disciplinary matters. In terms of am I independent, the answer is yes I am. Indeed, my task was, although retained by the NFL, to do an independent review of the evidence and the process in order to ensure that it was clearly the case, based on my review, that there was strong evidentiary support and that the process being followed was thorough and fair.”

    Based on that, she fully disclosed her conflict of interest, so the label “independent” is more a matter of opinion than representation of fact.

  58. @ Shzastl: Not really, she acknowledged her past affiliation with the NFL, and that they had hired her in this case. However, they had hired her to do an independent review of the material and the steps the NFL had taken thus far and give an unbiased opinion of the case as she saw it.

    She isn’t leading the prosecution of a case, she simply observed the facts they had. Now, before we go questioning this woman’s integrity. How about we take a look at her credentials, shall we?

    -B.S. from College of William and Mary, 1970
    -Obtained her law degree from Columbia Law School in 1974
    -Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1992
    -Appointed US Attorney for the Southern District of New York in March 1993 by President Clinton

    Notable cases she oversaw the prosecutions of:
    -John Gotti
    -1993 WTC Terrorists including Ramzi Yousef

    She was also appointed by AG Ashcroft to investigate the pardon (Clinton) of Marc Rich, who was indicted for oil deals w/ Iran during the 70’s and 80’s.

    What strikes me here is that both Clinton and Ashcroft used her during their terms, which means she’s pretty good at staying impartial. And her more noteworthy cases aren’t fluff either. She’s been doing this awhile and knows the responsibilities of any lawyer.

  59. @mornelithe – sir, you seem to get so intent on making your point that you don’t read what other people have ACTUALLY said. As noted in my prior post, she adequately disclosed the facts about her prior relationship with the NFL. I simply pointed out that based on the premise of Florio’s post, i.e., the NFL is trying to pass off as “independent” someone who is not, there could POTENTIALLY be some issues there, which would DEPEND on how her role was portrayed and the extent of the prior representation. Having read her press conference comments, I think she disclosed the relevant facts, even though whether she is truly “independent” is obviously debatable.

    In any event, your suggestion that someone’s credentials make them immune from any wrongdoing is somewhat laughable.

  60. @ Shzastl: I’m still trying to understand how neither of you view her as adequately independent. I’m curious how someone would actually achieve your approval. Would it have to be a lawyer who you know, just decided in their off time they’re going to review confidential business evidence? Would it only be adequate if they did it pro-bono?

    Of course, who’s to say they aren’t paid at a later date…right? I’m not necessarily sticking up for her, I am saying she doesn’t seem to be getting the benefit of the doubt here…quite the opposite, in fact.

    As far as assuming that I give her a free pass, just because of her credentials. No, I typically don’t trust lawyers any further than I can throw them. However, I find it interesting that major figures in both the Republican and Democratic party’s have used this woman in the past, and appointed her to fairly important and high profile assignments. And while wading through the mire that is both political parties she kept her nose clean….quite interesting.

    Could she be a puppet for the NFL? Certainly, but she’d be risking her reputation, and likely her position at her private firm in the process, possibly more….would think the kind of person that takes, would sell out long before this point in their career.

  61. @mornelithe — how someone could be adequately independent is very simple actually. There are THOUSANDS of lawyers in NY with similar credentials to this woman. Many of them have not represented the NFL on other matters. Hire one of them instead of someone who has represented you previously. Have you heard the phrase that you should avoid even the appearance of impropriety? That’s essentially what this is. Even if she would never INTENTIONALLY not view the facts objectively, it is extremely difficult to be truly impartial if the party that is asking you to review the evidence has been regularly paying you. For example, even the most honest person in the world should not referee his own son’s game. Judge’s regularly recuse themselves from cases if they own stock in a company that is a party in the case, etc. Sure, 99% of the time, the judge could call a fair case anyway, but why take that chance when there are other judges without any skin in the game who could do the same thing. When she was hired by Clinton and Ashcroft, it was not to evaluate Clinton or Ashcroft’s conduct. Since the NFL could have hired any one of thousands of attorneys who have never represented them in the past, or hired an independent group to pick the indenpendent attorney, the fact that they didn’t is quite odd. Particularly when the union attorney who saw the same evidence has come out and said that her opinion is way off base.

  62. Wow. There’s certainly a lot of ignorance about what’s going on here. Let’s address a few of them:

    1) The NFL is NOT just any private business that can do whatever they like. They’re an organization that is governed by a collective bargaining agreement that allows it to get around many anti-trust laws that it could not necessarily violate if not for the CBA. It therefore HAS to comply with said CBA in ANY decisions regarding how it operates it’s players, especially in regards to how it affects it’s employees (players).

    2) Then, there’s the idea that the NFLPA has signed over complete authority to Goodell to hand out discipline and then review the appeal as he sees fit without any independent body in the pipeline to second guess him. That’s wrong. Goodell has that authority (wrongly I beleive. Thank you Pac Man Jones you idiot!!) for incidents happening OFF the field of play. He does NOT have the same authority when it comes to ON field discipline. The NFLPA is arguing, and I think they’re dead on, that the pay to injure scheme was an on field situation and therefore the appeals process should run through Ted Cottrell and Art Shell who have been hired jointly for on the field situations. Instead of utilizing that method Goodell has utilized his authority under the player off the field conduct policy in an attempt to circumvent the accused players from mounting a successful defense.

    3) Some fans are also throwing out the idea that the NFL doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Unfortunately, that’s also untrue. People this is not a court of law. It’s a grievance proceeding governed by a CBA. Unless this is the first CBA in the history of the world that allows the employer to arbitrarily fine and suspend employees without providing a shred of evidence then the NFL is REQUIRED to provide the evidence requested by the NFLPA. They don’t have to give the media anything but their obligations under the CBA and the National Labor Relations Act state that the employer must provide relevant information that it is using to justify their discipline to the employee’s union representative. Under a CBA, the burden of proof is ALWAYS on the employer to prove that the the discipline was justified and reasonable, and that the employer did not act in an arbitrary and capricious manner in utilizing their right to discipline said employee. Unions even have the right to interview witnesses that the employer is using to support their case for discipline. Otherwise the due process rights of the accused are violated. Especially since the evidence so far sounds like its all allegations from other players and maybe coaches. If the only evidence the NFL has against these accused players is testimony from these “witnesses/whistleblowers” then the Union has every right to refuse to take the NFL’s word for it that they said what they said and they then have every right to attack the credibility and testimony of these witnesses in defense of their accused members Again, I’m not talking about a court of law. All of these things are allowed for under every CBA I have ever seen and under the NLRA. Hell, I’m only surprised the NFLPA has t filed a labor charge as of now.

    4) I’m also hearing an argument that “Of course this independent counsel isn’t really independent but the NFLPA lawyer isn’t either!!” The big difference in the two is that the NFLPA lawyer isn’t pretending to be independent either as is the NFL’s little fraud. The NFLPA lawyer will tell you right up front who he’s representing. Will Mary Jo??

  63. @kameleono, re: your 3d point, actually the CBA does not appear to require the NFL to prove anything to anyone. There is a copy of the CBA on the NFL’s website. Article XI, “Commissioner Discipline” sets forth Goodell’s jurisdiction, including “conduct on the playing field” AND “conduct detrimental to the integrity” of football. He is also hears the appeals decided by Cottrell when the on-field conduct involves “unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct”. Nothing in that section requires Goodell to turn over evidence supporting the discipline. Compare that with Article IX, “Non-injury Grievance,” which allows discovery of all relevant documents before the grievance hearing. But regardless of whether the bounty issue is “on” or “off” field, it pretty clearly falls under the Article XI Commissioner discipline section which does NOT require any factual disclosures. So the players might have to hang their hat on the argument that Goodell no longer has jurisdiction for anything that occurred before 2011.

    But all of that is really beside the original point of the post–that for the NFL to accomplish its PR goals, it does need to disclose the evidence, regardless of any legal or contractual obligation to do so.

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