12 October 2012

The Many Lies of BountyGate

One Head, Affected
Let's take a short moment to review the cascade of bullshit that's rained down on us since BountyGate's inception. There's a whole lotta lying going on these days.

After spending too many months outraged and angry, I'll attempt to keep this as lighthearted as possible. It's Friday, after all.

If you're interested in reviewing the flaccid state of the NFL's evidence in detail, then go here and here. If you want a broader commentary on BountyGate, then read this.

In the meantime, below is a quick review of the NFL's mendacious machinations along the way.

Here goes:

March 2nd: The NFL accused the Saints of running a three-year "bounty program funded primarily by players." By May 2nd, the NFL amended its terminology to more broadly read "pay for performance/bounty program." On September 12thin his words, Goodell said plainly "there was a bounty." You mean, just one? Not a three-year program? (See 2:05 of the linked clip.) 

March 2nd: Jonathan Vilma was accused of placing a $10k bounty on Brett Favre. On May 2nd, Vilma vehemently denied, in WTFOMG ALL CAPS, offering the bounty.

June 18th: The NFL produced a transcription of a shady handwritten note that indicated a $35k bounty on Favre, including a pledged contribution from Joe Vitt. So wait, was it $10k or $35k? And was it offered by Vilma or other people or what? Don't worry, though, they've cleared it all up for us lowly peons who have trouble following all the lies. On October 9th, the NFL declared Vilma was responsible for the bounty "in the specific amount of $10,000." You see, "specific." They're on it, fellas. It's all on the up-and-up now.

After the handwritten note surfaced on June 18thVitt denied pledging the aforementioned money. The NFL eventually cleared him of the accusation on June 20th. But remember everybody, the handwritten note is clear-cut, legitimate, damning evidence. Even though it says Vitt pledged $5k to something called a "QB out pool" and even though the NFL said he did/but then didn't offer that $5k, the handwritten note is the smoking gun. Clearly we should all trust Mike Cerullo's recollection of what might have occurred, as well as his noble intent. The note itself? See it transcribed in section 10 here.

March 12th: Anthony Hargrove is first mentioned for demanding payment of the Favre bounty on the sideline during the NFC Championship game. On June 19th, Hargrove adamantly denied he said "pay me my money." With "absolute certainty," Hargrove declared he said nothing of the sort. A day later on June 20th, a former Saints' teammate backed Hargrove.

I like this next one a lot. This takes some serious balls. On May 3rd, hired gun Mary Jo White said Anthony Hargrove "acknowledged that the program existed [and] acknowledged his participation" in it. But uhhh, oops? On May 7th, Hargrove's actual declaration leaked, in which Hargrove "denied knowledge of any bounty or any program." Nothing to see here, folks. Forget this even happened.

June 1st: The newfangled "bounty ledger" (OOH SO OFFICIAL!) indicated three payments (that's all? only three?) made for "cart-offs" in the 2009 Bills game. But that was quickly debunked, so the NFL amended their report to say it was actually the 2009 Panthers' game. But you know, that was also debunked by multiple sources. Well shit.

So upon re-issuing player sanctions on October 9th, the NFL then claimed it was actually the 2010 Panthers game. Of course. We know that's what you meant all along, guys. Honest oversight, I'm sure. Must be tough keeping up with all 50,000 pages.

The problem, though? The three players who departed with injury--Jonathan Stewart, Matt Moore, and Tyrell Sutton--all left the game due to clean, legal hits. And there's no accompanying evidence that there was: 1) a bounty on any of these players (absurd even is the thought); or 2) post-game payments made for the legal hits. But somebody got hurt in a Saints' game one time, so clearly: HEINOUS PAY-TO-INJURE PROGRAM!

June 19th: The NFL said that Mike Ornstein corroborated the bounty on Favre. A few hours later, Ornstein said bullshit (I'm paraphrasing here) ... At this point, we should at least marginally appreciate the NFL's commitment to just making shit up whenever need be.

September 17th: The NFL's star witness, Gregg Williams, submitted an affidavit that implicated Vilma for the Favre bounty. In a flimsy attempt to cover his own ass, Williams also said "it was never my intent to cause our opponents to be injured." You mean, besides the January 2012 speech before the Saints' divisional playoff game against San Francisco? The one where you exhorted your defense to--among other things--"fuckin' take out [Crabtree's] outside ACL." What was your intent there, Gregg? Come on. Should we really trust Gregg Williams as a credible witness at this point?

September 17th: Also in the affidavit, Williams states he "was never given any money by anyone" for bounties. But guess what? On September 18th, the NFL released Mike Cerullo's accompanying affidavit in which Cerullo says "I personally collected the money that Mr. Vilma left on the table ... and subsequently gave it to Mr. Williams for safekeeping." Uh oh, someody's full of shit here.

But hey everybody, it doesn't matter! The Saints are clearly guilty! Just trust Goodell when he says he "weigh[ed] such differences and [made] a determination about what did and did not occur." Yes, of course. Roger Goodell is now divining the specifics of purported events. And anyway, Williams and Cerullo are both credible! Neither of them has any ulterior motive either!

October 9th: The NFL revealed that former Vikings' player Jimmy Kennedy came forward with information of a bounty on Brett Favre, and that the NFL "promptly investigated ... and interviewed Mr. Kennedy." You know what happened next? I bet you do... On October 10th, Jimmy Kennedy said that never happened, neither the submitted information nor the interview.

You told me this ...You told me that ... I see it in your eyes ... lies, lies, lies

Ok, that's all for now. I'm sure there will be many more future lies, so the fun's not done just yet. Stay tuned! In its own perverse way, BountyGate is the gift that keeps on giving.

Lastly, I feel certain I've missed plenty of stuff. Who can keep up anymore? Please feel free to add anything I've overlooked in the comments. 

Enjoy the bye week.


  1. Awesome job. I've been wanting a list like this that shows the original statement and when it was retracted/disproven. I was also wondering about when the NFL said that Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton were specific targets and when that one stopped?

  2. Great write up. And, Christian, thanks for sharing. As the incomparable TV show "The Wire" said so many times: "follow the money." I am convinced this was set-up to be a scapegoat and mitigating factor in the lawsuits being brought against the NFL by former players for hiding the effects of head trauma.

  3. "All the pieces matter."

  4. I'm not sure if you've seen this: http://saintsreport.com/forums/f2/bounty-evidence-handwritten-note-edited-put-your-tin-foil-hat-260672/index22.html. And I'm really not sure what to make of it. It looks like there's a chance that the hand-written note could have been doctored after-the-fact. This just opens up a world of speculation. Could be meaningless, could be meaningful. U/daybreaker on the SR does counter-point that it's normal for layers to be created in PDF automatically. A user did tweet link to JV and he said he'd get it to "his atty".

  5. The complete story. That is something rarely seen, even in matters of intense interest/importance. It's assumed no one wants to hear the complete story when in fact there are plenty of people who want to see the dots connected.

    Thank you for giving us this cascade and allowing us to see the vetted vs un-vetted facts.