In just over a week the draft will start, and then the draft will end and we’ll start traveling down the long, painful road of the true NFL offseason, that two-month section of the calendar where no meaningful league activity is scheduled. The die hards will hover over mini camp reports, while the hardcore fans who still like some mental detox time will retreat to their docks while clutching coconuts with tiny umbrellas, or perhaps a slow loris who’s holding a tiny umbrella.
But the hungry NFL machine must be fed, even during what should be a time of silence. That’s why we all need to hope that Roger Goodell has the decency to announce the player suspensions for the Bountygate scandal within the next week or so, because that nauseating headline vacuum won’t truly go away otherwise.
All we need is a little bit of closure, Roger, so please, let us summer in peace. If we can glean anything–anything whatsoever–from today’s meeting between the NFL and NFLPA that included Saints quarterback Drew Brees, it’s that Goodell is going to keep everyone waiting.
The NFL and NFLPA routinely have meetings to discuss matters and address any outstanding issues. And under normal circumstances, today’s meeting in New York would have barely registered amongst the constant draft chatter. Normal circumstances haven’t existed for quite some time in this NFL offseason, though, and they won’t for a while.
Brees emerged from the meeting and said that the Bountygate punishments were indeed discussed, but very little information of substance was shared.
From Albert Breer:
Brees told the NFL Network after the meeting that when discussion turned to the “bounty” sytem, near the end of the league/union meeting, “We didn’t get any meaningful evidence, or any meaningful truth or facts.” Asked if there was progress made towards a resolution in the one unresolved area of the case -– player penalties, Brees simply responded, “No.”
That’s directly in line with an intriguing little plot twist that emerged earlier today, with assistant executive director George Attalah saying that although the NFLPA was aware of the Gregg Williams tape before its release, the league still hasn’t provided firm, concrete evidence of a pay-for-play scheme.
“To date, the NFL has not provided the NFLPA with detailed evidence of the existence of such a program,” Attalah said in a release.
The evidence exists, because otherwise the historic punishments to the Saints coaches, their general manager, and the organization as a whole, wouldn’t exist either. But until there’s a definitive direction for punishments to key players like Jonathan Vilma, the league has choosen to hold its cards with a tightly-clenched iron fist.
Eventually that hammer will fall. Until then, we’ll keep writing Bountygate posts about the fact that there isn’t any fresh Bountygate news.
UPDATE: Oh look, now we do have some fresh Bountygate news. Sort of.
Vilma is reportedly bracing for a suspension that’s two-to-eight games long, according to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora. That’s quite a range, and given what’s happened to Payton et al and the knowledge that Vilma personally placed $10,000 on Brett Favre’s head, it’s far more likely that he’ll be sitting out for half the season.
La Canfora also writes that a decision on the player punishments is fully expected from Goodell before the draft, meaning we can all drink our discount beer in peace when the calender flips to May.