NFL shares evidence in Saints bounty case
NEW YORK – The NFL went public Monday with some of its evidence against the four players suspended for their roles in the New Orleans Saints bounty program. Among the things the league revealed: a prize of $35,000 for knocking Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in January 2010.
The league also displayed a computer slide it obtained from the Saints, dating from before a playoff game against Seattle the following season, showing photos of three Seahawks with “Now it’s time to do our job. Collect bounty $$$!. No apologies. Let’s go hunting” printed on it.
The evidence included hand-written notes, documents from the Saints’ computer system and witness testimony.
NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash showed reporters the material at the end of a day when the suspended players – Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma – each attended appeals hearings with Commissioner Roger Goodell at NFL headquarters in Manhattan. The players and their union objected to the process, saying it was unfair.
The league then showed reporters copies of documents and a video from its investigation – the same presentation the NFL earlier made to the players.
Peter Ginsberg, Vilma’s attorney, called the hearing “a sham” and said Goodell failed to present the evidence on which he based his decision to impose Vilma’s penalty.
“It’s tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty and it simply is not true,” said Vilma, who also is suing the commissioner for defamation. “I don’t know how I can get a fair process when he is the judge, jury and executioner.”
Fujita said nothing was accomplished.
“I have yet to see anything that implicates me … not in the last three months and not today,” Fujita said.
Pash said Goodell will “hold the record open” until at least the end of Friday for the players to respond to the evidence.
“We offered the attorneys and players opportunities to comment and they declined to do so,” Pash said.
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