The news relayed below is important–very important–but it’s also becoming deafening white noise for everyone outside of New Orleans. Until the bountygate punishments are finalized next week when the appeals are heard, the legal posturing is getting tiresome.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and you’re pretty eager to read about statements you knew Jonathan Vilma’s lawyer would make when the bounty evidence the league intends to use during Monday’s hearing was delivered to the four players involved (Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita). A year ago the NFL was dealing with daily legal vitriol during the lockout, and I’m still suffering from tremors.
When the league provided that evidence this afternoon in the form of about 200 of the rumored 50,000 pages of documents, a slide show illustrating Gregg Williams’ main directives and speeches, an e-mail from Mike Orstein regarding the $5,000 bounty on Aaron Rodgers’ head, and footage from the 2009 NFL championship game, Vilma’s lawyer Andy Ginsberg said that although there’s no denying that Williams crossed a line, his client is in no way directly implicated. Again, the importance of that statement shouldn’t be pushed aside, but neither should your utter lack of surprise.
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche has more from Ginsberg:
“The NFL provided a slideshow of Gregg Williams’ most outrageous comments,” Ginsberg said. “It is evidence that reflects an assistant coach in the NFL has a style that might rightfully be distasteful but that has been tolerated for years by several NFL teams. It in no way supports any of the accusations that Commissioner Goodell has so publicly made against Jonathan.
“There is nothing that evidences opposing players were targeted. There is nothing that evidences any of the players were involved in putting money on the heads of opposing players the way the Commissioner has suggested.”
The legal teams for the players are pursuing more evidence, but so far there’s no smoking gun that conclusively reveals a bounty program, and instead there’s only a “water pistol”, according to a source close to PFT.
Right now we can only greet Ginsberg’s complaints with a nod and a shrug, and make the hopeful assumption that as the perusal of the league’s documents continues, more will be found, and definitive evidence will be produced. Otherwise, dictator Roger Goodell will have some serious splainin’ to do.