17 April 2012

Are the Saints Being Railroaded?

Go ahead. Mock me. I really don't give a shit. You think I've gone off the deep end with this whole bounty thing, right? 


Well maybe I am going all Conspiracy Theory Guy with this one. But maybe someone needs to for a little while. 


Regardless of my skepticism, plenty of questions still remain unanswered. But just one predominates. 


Solely, what direct evidence does the NFL actually have as to the existence of a multi-year bounty program in New Orleans?


REFUTATION, SKEPTICISM  
Should we implicitly believe there was a three-year, institutionalized bounty program in place simply because Roger Goodell said so? Remember that the NFL Players' Assocation in preparing to defend Saints' players from pending sanctions has repeatedly asserted, again as recently as Monday, that "to date, the NFL has not provided the NFLPA with detailed evidence of the existence of such a program." Read that one more time and let it sink in. 


Furthermore on Monday, after NFLPA leaders met with league officials to discuss player sanctions, Drew Brees said “We didn’t get any meaningful evidence, or any meaningful truth or facts.” 


Isn't that mildly alarming? That after 6 weeks of public crucifixion, the players intent on defending themselves have not seen any evidence as to what they've been pilloried for? 


Who do you think is twisting the facts here? The NFLPA and Drew Brees? Or Goodell and the NFL? If there are 50,000 pages of information and documentation revealing a 3-year bounty program, then why not show the public--or at least the NFL Players' Association--definitive, hard proof of its existence? What is there to hide? Is the NFL fearful that disclosing evidence to the NFLPA makes the league even more vulnerable to legal action? Or is there anything of substance at all? 


If there was indeed evidence of Saints' players engaging in repeated, malicious, intent-to-injure activity on the field, those plays would be plastered all over every TV station and website in order to provide conclusive proof of the Saints' guilt. Right? 


But guess what? We haven't seen anything except for ONE PLAY: the hit on Favre in the '09 NFCCG. In a game of extreme violence, in a game where any given defense is on the field for ~1000 plays per season, we've seen exactly one play to back up the claims that the Saints ran a pay-to-injure scheme for three years. 


Sorry, but that doesn't smell quite right.   


The fact that the public has not been provided on-field confirmations of the Saints' bounty program is tacit admission from the league that their evidence is either flimsy, exaggerated, manufactured, or virtually nonexistent. This isn't to say a bounty program did not exist. Rather, it's to say that it didn't exist in the manner publicly portrayed and, moreover, that the league doesn't appear capable of proving it did. Unfortunately the league doesn't have to prove it because they essentially answer to no one, with one man responsible for dispensing punishments and hearing appeals. Sure, that seems like a reasonable system immune from the perils of abuse.  


EVIDENCE
What we have gotten in doses is an allegation of Jonathan Vilma offering $10k to knock out Brett Favre in the '09 NFCCG. Who witnessed and made this allegation? Did that person have any reason to fabricate this statement? Who, if anyone, corroborated this witness' account? Should we blindly believe what Goodell says that some mystery person said?  Apparently it's fair game for the NFL to just say "he said this" and expect everyone to take it as gospel which, not so coincidentally, the feeble mass football media certainly did. 


Don't forget that for decades, the NFL also told us that head injuries, concusssions, and CTE did not result from playing football


Do you still believe that today? 


Because the league has a history of misrepresenting the truth and a clear motive to continue doing so now, why should they not be held accountable by the press and the public into sharing the evidence behind their damning claims and draconian punishments? Not a summary or press release or memo of findings, but the actual evidence. 


While the overwhelming majority of these thin-skinned media puppets have attacked and disparaged the Saints from every conceivable angle for the past month--exacting personal retribution on a coach (Payton) they despised along the way--not one of these prostrate sycophants has taken up the task of investigating the simple claim as to why the NFL has repeatedly refused to share evidence with its own players' union. Doesn't that seem pretty fucking relevant to this case? Why has nobody in the media even sought an answer? It's mind-boggling to the core, but probably illustrative of a deeper reality: the railroading of the Saints by the league and its media arm as a brand protection strategy


The other evidence we have thus far is a three-minute audio snippet from a 2012 playoff game in which the Saints, mind you, were penalized NOT ONCE. Moreover, this evidence was captured and released by an independent filmmaker and not the league itself. Accordingly, the NFL has repeatedly sought access to all of Pamphilon's footage and audio. And why would they do that? Perhaps because the evidence used in dispensing team sanctions (free from third party arbitration, by the way) is so flimsy that it won't hold up against the players' union, their army of lawyers, and potential third-party arbitration. Wouldn't this be a logical reason the league refuses to share its "evidence" with the NFLPA? Because it'll get shot to all hell? 


And maybe this is why the league has stated that this is an "ongoing investigation"--because their evidence is for shit and so they can, furthermore, retroactively mold "new findings" to fit their long-term strategies and justify their sanctions. 


Seriously, why is the collective groupthink that Goodell and the NFL are beyond reproach here? Because they're so fucking swell and benevolent? Because Gregg Williams is a reckless, loudmouthed psychopath? Because Sean Payton didn't deign to kiss the commissioner's ring? 


The simple fact is that rhetoric in theory does not equal malice in practice, and those divergent concepts should not be punished as equals. And if there is concrete evidence that supports the claims and existence of the program, then why hasn't anyone seen it all? Why isn't anyone besides the players' union even asking to verify it? 


After all, Goodell has a documented history of manipulating critical evidence in the past. Did we ever find out why he destroyed all of the SpyGate evidence immediately after handing out punishment? In that case, Senator Arlen Specter, investigating Goodell in response to the destruction of evidence, asked why punishments were handed down before the full extent of the misdeed was known (sound familiar?) and concluded that during the investigation "there was an enormous amount of haste" (sound familiar?). Finally, Specter questioned the quality of the league's investigation at the time (sound familiar?). But hell, no way that could happen AGAIN, right? 


Instead all we've gotten are strategically-deployed "pieces of info" released to select media that the NFL owns in one form or another. Yes, the same suckling media that spinelessly refuses to request the totality of evidence in order to ascertain its veracity. Fucking cowards. 


We've heard about big, scary numbers (50,000 pages of documents OOOH!); a fruitless, bounty-specific email sent from prison by a felon to Saints' coaches in 2011 (Ornstein, evil, GASP!); an allegation of Vilma spewing hyperbolic, pre-game bombast one time; an admission from Williams--a confessed liar and spurned former coach--who may well be falling in line with the league in order to save his career; and an audio clip from a 2012 game that once again proved no action executed from the vile rhetoric espoused. 


How is that evidence of a systemic, three-year, pay-to-injure program? 


Guess what, it's not. It's a bunch of separate incidents woven together to form a convenient, seemingly cohesive narrative for the NFL to manipulate to its own ends. In the meantime, Sean Payton and the Saints' fans bear the brunt of what looks increasingly more like a McCarthyesque witchhunt in its absurd demagoguery and pervasive unsubstantiations.  


If the NFL, or anyone else, concretely displays the evidence that proves their claims, then I'll happily shut the fuck up and say I'm wrong. But for now I stand behind my previous assertion that the Saints' cardinal sin in this whole thing was defying Roger Goodell when questioned over the prevalence of bounties. God forbid you deceive the king at his own game of mendacious deceit. 


MOTIVATIONS
The league has an obvious, vested interest in developing a perception of concern for player safety. Combined with the actuality of mounting lawsuits from former players, that alone is enough to invite skepticism here. Without knowing the facts behind the claims, though, how can the public know if the punishments fit the crime? Or if the crime even existed as presented? How can other teams take comfort in Goodell's retributive, capricious approach to punishing a franchise and its fan base? 


Florio and PFT: the one legit media outlet seeking real answers 
Unfortunately, none of these paid "journalists" has the balls to ask the tough questions--or any questions at all--for fear of losing their precious access to shinebox on command. 


Instead, they mindlessly and sanctimoniously drone on about arrogance, asterisks, deception, integrity of the game, and every other pithy fucking soundbite they've been indoctrinated with from their corporate masters. 


Errand boys, the lot of 'em.


I guess that's the way the NFL and its supine media executes things: "we decree, you reiterate, they thoughtlessly accept as dogma, while we perpetuate the stuffing of our fat, slimy coffers with those suckers' hard-earned dollars." And for those of us who don't accept it? I guess it's relegation to the fringes, paranoia and all. 


But at some point when we stop blindly trusting this corporate behemoth, this increasingly-fabricated, dog-and-pony show that is the NFL, we just might all see the light. Or the darkness. 

34 comments:

  1. Well done, sir. The local "media" turn my stomach, the lot of them. Kevin Spain doesn't even understand what the Times-Picayune should be looking into. Oh, say, just one of the 50,000 pages, maybe?

    Bravo.

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    1. wouldn't that be just too nice? if the t-p actually investigated something for once? weird how they can do such a good job on the corps but the nfl is off limits...

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    2. The one that's really bugging me is Ed Daniels, who works or used to work for Channel 8 and now writes for the Clarion Herald. He is really dumping on Sean Payton and now he's even suggesting that Benson gets rid of Payton for good. His latest rant is based on that tape that was released of Greg Williams before the 49rs playoff game last year. One thing that has not been brought out about that tape is, where is the evidence of money being offered to players on that tape? I didn't hear any. And the Saints didn't play particularly more violent than what other teams were doing. In fact, the only player to leave with a head injury was one of our players after a helmet to helmet hit by a 49r. Oh, I forgot, that was supposed to be a legal hit. Yeah, right.

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    3. Helmet to helmet huh? I remember Pierre catching the ball and trying to get into the endzone and he was hit "legally" by Whitner. A helmet to helmet hit can only be on a QB or defenseless receiver. Learn the rules dipshit

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    4. Your wrong anon you learn the rules jackass.

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    5. Even though the Pierre Thomas hit was deemed a legal hit, the concussion is the same. I think all helmet to helmet hits should be banned.

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    6. Well, hell. I'm way late on this but yes, the hit on Pierre was legal and Whitner, I'm sure, got his wallet filled in the locker room afterward. The point is that the Saints are being attacked for encouraging hits like that, not doing them. And, if the NFL was legit and consistent about this, that hit and the one on Graham and the licks the Giants put on Williams and bragged about, would be banned and punished even more severely.

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  2. Wow - best thing I've read all week. Sorry I didn't have time to register so I had to post as anonymous but I'll be referring and trash-talking nutsticks at my office intent on giving me grief about my "dirty bounty-hunting loser team" DIRECTLY to this post.

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    1. Hey you work at Pennichuck also? Bummer huh? Stupid Pats fans.

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  3. Wow!! You hit the nail so hard on the head YOU should be suspended and fined!! :) Thank you, and I too will be sharing this with all my blind NFL following friends!

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  4. Could not have said it any better myself. Glad there seem to be at least some people who can think for themselves.

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  5. Best piece I've read on this whole BS bounty subject. Great article.

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  6. Great read. Goodell is nothing but a lying maggot.

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  7. Very well said. About sums it up! I still wish someone would challenge Goodell on knowledge that players are drugged up when injured in a game to "get them through", when everyone on the planet (including Goodell) knows this willingly happens. Player safety my a$$ Mr. Goodell!!. Proof that this nutbag (Goodell) is just as guilty as anyone and has a seperate agenda ($$$). The superbowl itself was one of the cleanest played (low penalty) games in history...no press there though right?

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  8. Some excellent points are made here, especially about the gutless media, who are indeed afraid of losing their access to teams. Goodell loves a lot of "Yes" men and won't stand for anyone actually sugggesting that maybe this is being blown WAAAYY out of proportion to what was actually going on. These are very big and powerful football players here, capable of taking out someone's ACL. The fact that they did not injure anyone seems to have been ignored in all the hyperbolic hoopla. I've heard a few players from other teams say that just because a player hears an insane coach suggest that the defense go out and injure someone doesn't mean they will actually buy into that frame of mind. The Saints have been for the past three years one of the league's least fined teams in terms of illegal hits. Many of their "roughing the passer" calls were incidental minor slaps to the helmet as they tried to block the pass as it left the QBs hand. Frankly, if they WERE running such a pay for injuring opponents scheme, the players weren't very good at collecting.

    So maybe...just MAYBE...this whole thing was mostly Gregg Williams' pregame speech idiocy. Perhaps money was discussed to "add a little interest" to the game, much the same way people will place small bets on the outcome of an event, but it certainly doesn't look as if they have anything that would stand up in a court of law.

    All it has to do is give Goodell a chance to appear concerned about player health and safety. Perhaps he's also doing this to support his assertion that adding two regular season games to the schedule--games that would NOT be played by many who will not even make the team--does not prove he is about the money in the owners' pockets, and not the safety of the players.

    And, Dear ESPN and NFL Network: You know that play you both keep showing of Roman Harper taking Jay Cutler to the ground and the flag being thrown? The NFL came out after the game and said it should not have been a penalty. I forgive you, though, since you can't seem to come up with any actual plays that demonstrate the Saints were out to actually hurt someone.

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  9. One thing - I think - has been glossed over with the Williams audio. At what point in that audio does he actually tell the players to do something illegal? Sure we have some allegations (from the scum who used Gleason as a spring board to 15 minutes of fame) that Williams made the cash sign or that he said to hit Smith in the chin. But is there any rule in the NFL that says not to target players' injuries? Are you not allowed to hit a running back in the hear or even "outside ACL"? To borrow an overused metaphore, sure it showed how the sausage is made, but everything he said was inline with the FDA's guidelines.

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  10. Replies
    1. I guess you missed the part where Williams publically apologized and decided against his right to appeal. Sure, innocent people every day issue an apology for their crimes and accept indefinite employment bans. I guess Williams was just being nice, right.

      And Peyton wasn't suspended for just putting his head in the sand over this; he was suspended for twice lying about his knowledge of this not once, but twice, to the commissioner.

      In criminal justice cases, usually the actual perpetrator of a crime is sentenced to punishment equal to or greater than those who told them to do it. Who should be punished more, the person that pulled the trigger in a Robbery attempt or the person who asked them to do it? This should warrant having these cowardly thugs getting their rightful banishments.

      This is the time that all Saints fans, like the author and the above posters who support him, should wear their brown paper bags again. You are a disgrace to the NFL; you are a disgrace to mankind. Assuming you ever had any, you are abandoning all principles and standards toward basic human decency out of a sick loyalty to a football team. Sick and disgusting!

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    2. Plenty of people--under duress--confess guilt to acts they haven't committed if they think it will save their asses. Ever hear of the West Memphis Three?

      Secondly, Williams and Payton admitted to a "pay for performance" program not a "pay to injure" program. The league and its media has shaped this admission otherwise to mold public opinion like yours that's not sharp enough to discern the difference.

      Lastly, I have not once stated this program did not exist. Go back and read what I wrote. I said it did not exist as publicly portrayed and that vile rhetoric did not produce actual malice on the field and, as such, should not be punished as if it did.

      You can operate and moralize in your "disgrace to mankind" absurdity all you want if it you makes you feel superior to others, but it adds nothing to clarifying this issue. For some of us, there are plenty of shades of grey to this case that require further examination. If you accept everything told to you at face value, then so be it. But that doesn't make you right.

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    3. Suspended for a full year...for lying? I guess he should've raped someone right? At least then he would've only been suspended 4 games.

      You sound like all the BS propaganda you're fed from the media is seeping into what little grey matter you have. Go troll elsewhere.

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  11. I totally agree with you I believe goodell or as my cousin in Anahiem and I like to call him FRG is full of it, I believe this is all about setting up their excuse that it was nothing but renegade players operating outside the FNFL's safety rules so when their on the witness stand being sued they can say it wasn't the FNFL responsible for all the injuries it was players not following the FNFL's ruled. Such bullshit, they look at our SAINTS and SAINTS's Fans and say they've been losers their whole existence and now they've won a super bowl so they can regulate the SAINTS and THEIR FANS back to the losers and 2nd class team the FNFL has always viewed THE SAINTS and THEIR FANS as being, how could a Small 3rd Class City like NEW ORLEANS in a backward state like LOUISIANA beat the FNFL's chosen teams like, NYG, PATS, SF, Steelers, etc.... That's how they've always viewed THE SAINTS and like you if you don't believe it your just naive.

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  12. Goodell is a lawyer...the only way he can combat the coming lawsuits (and not seem like a hypocrite) against his precious brand, is by using that brand to help show that he does care about the players health and well being (even though he cares more about money). How does he do this. Not by using an older more established team, one with decades of tradition. Certainly not a northeast, midwest team. He needed to find a team with a limited history with success (5years), a team that has already shown that it can recover from one of the biggest catastrophe's in american history (katrina. But all his efforts will backfire when the Saints win the superbowl this year (in new orleans). Suck it goodell

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  13. I agree with the general premise as in the NFL is not forthcoming with the information and it seems fishy. I disagree with the mentioning of Spygate in the way you've framed it here. Correct me if I'm wrong but it appears you are mentioning it assuming that Goodell destroyed the initial tapes to hide things that the Patriots were doing that were worse, correct? Did you ever stop to think that maybe they did that because they are just terrible at handling these situations? The way they've handled this one should tell you that. The Patriots shouldn't have been taping from an illegal area but they sort of got railroaded there too because if you look at the tape on Fox and the later tapes obtained by Walsh that were aired they are all exactly the same, clock, down and distance, signal caller, play. The irony there is that the Patriots were actually following NFL guidelines taping the clock and down and distance. In reality the league took a minor issue with camera placement and allowed a huge conspiracy to erupt by destroying the tapes because Goodell is an idiot. We're seeing a similar thing here. Levying those punishments without showing any actual proof being made public is ridiculous and a ploy to make the league look like they are taking concussions seriously in light of the recent and future lawsuits by former players.

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    1. I mentioned the comparison to SpyGate only to show that Goodell has a history of mishandling and/or misrepresenting--for whatever motive--critical evidence that's central to a sensitive investigation.

      I'm not comprehensively informed on the SpyGate issue, so I wouldn't offer a judgment as to why exactly Goodell destroyed the evidence. The simple fact that he did so seems egregious enough in and of itself.

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    2. I agree with that and you might be surprised to know that most Patriots fans do as well because they feel as though it made the situation look worse than it actually was. I think more than anything Goodell has shown that he is not cut out for the job from Spygate, to neutering defenses, inconsistent fines, and now laying the hammer down on the Saints with no evidence made public. He's fortunate that the league is still recording record profits because at the end of the day that's all the owners care about and he keeps his job.

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    3. One phrase that keeps repeating in my mind through all of this is that power corrupts and that
      absolute power corrupts absolutely. The NFL owners giving one man all this power seems very
      dangerous. I think judgments would be more rational in the hands of a professional board.

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  14. I wish this could get national exposure. You've put it all together very nicely.

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    1. I very much agree!

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    2. copy and post it to your facebook, my space, etc. page

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  15. i applaud you sir, so well thought out. and us who dats have been preaching this to no avail. i too find it curious that with 50,000 pages and a video tape the NFLPA has YET to see actual evidence and that 3:30 tape was an actual 15-20 minute speech that Pamphilon obviously trimmed to try and make himself look like a hero, when the NFLPA already knew of the tape yet he presented it in public? why? for his 15 minutes of fame? and to do that to a dying man is sicking. when the player penalties come out it will just turn into a bigger circus due to you know the NFLPA will appeal right away. if it was a 3 year scandal why didnt Goodell bring it up from the moment he found out? he says he cares about player safety, obviously not. what about the other teams that have admitted to doing the exact same thing? all they get is a written paper saying we wont do it again and we are sorry? that is such bullshit. Goodell has opened a can of worms he wont soon be able to close, and not good for him to do this to the team and fanbase and city that is hosting the super bowl, booing will happen when he shows his pathetic mug around the who dats.

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  16. I can see it now, the Saints winning the Super Bowl at home. Goodell having to hand over the Lombardi trophy to a chorus of boos, until he gives Benson the trophy and the dome will erupt with cheers! Then when America's Game comes out, you'll hear a familiar voice. Sean Payton narrating. Boom!!

    If the NFL won't allow that, then the second choice is obvious. Kenny F'n Powers......in full on Kenny mode letting every hater have it.

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  17. I'd like to know what John Mara's role is in all this. The cap penalties against the Cowboys and Redskins make it smell like the Giants owner wants to hamstring the competition so they can be the first to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium next season. They don't want the Saints to have a fair shot at making the Super Bowl this year.

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  18. Great article. I have always thought that Goodell has always gone too far in his rulings with his "cover my A**" mentality. This is well thought out and provocative to say the least.

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  19. This is exactly what I have been saying from the very start of it. 50,000 pages huh?!?! Really? ok, give one tangible video evidence. Just one! Seems to me like the timeline of the LOCKOUT, Drew Brees being one of the leaders of the NFLPA - Goodell is human, yes the commissioner, but he is human. Which means he falls prey to such things as power, greed, vindictiveness, just like many pepole in positions of power - and the owners and Goodell being at the negotiating table, who knows what was said. I am sure it was intense, right?

    So then, in October (a few months after LOCKOUT was lifted) lawsuits starting being filed left and right by retired players. NFL needed an example - someone to show in a COURT OF LAW - that hey, we are serious about concussions and player safety etc. Payton was already on Goodell's shitlist, who knows what Brees said during negotiations, then BOOM! Goodell has his fall guy in one fell swoop. And Benson? Shut up Tom, because this well save owners potentially billions in these lawsuits that the NFL will lose. Take your punishment, and smile and be happy.

    I mean, why on earth is Brees an UFA anyway?!?! Think about it... But excellent article. I have been screaming all along - where on earth is the proof?

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