As suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma continues to spar with the NFL about the disclosure of evidence in the league’s bounty investigation, a new report details one piece of evidence that the league views as significant: A ledger showing payments to Saints players for meeting the goals of the bounty program.
Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reports that the league has a “ledger” showing earnings for players in the bounty program, with $1,000 payments for cart-offs, $400 for hard hits and $100 deductions for mental errors.
The ledger includes notations from 2009 games against the Bills (three $1,000 payments) and against the Giants (one $1,000 payment). It’s not clear who the players involved were, either the Saints players involved in the payments or the Bills and Giants players who were hurt.
One disturbing detail in the report is that in the case of one $1,000 bonus on the ledger, someone wrote down that the player carted off was placed on injured reserve, marking it with an exclamation point.
There are plenty of unanswered questions in all this, such as who was keeping the ledger, who made the payments (or whether the payments were actually made) and who turned the ledger over to the league office. And NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah said the NFLPA has not seen the ledger and questions the league’s reliance on it.
“I guess it either qualifies as evidence, which means fair due process was violated because [the] players didn’t get to see it before they were punished or it is not hard evidence because they didn’t get to see it and cross examine the validity of that piece of evidence,” Atallah wrote in a message to Cole.
But whether the union accepts the evidence or not, it’s one more damaging report for the union’s members who have been implicated in the Saints’ bounty scandal.