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Tearing Down Bountygate Piece By Piece: PART 1

In the days since the players’ suspensions in the league’s bounty investigation were voided, the league has stated that “the panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation”. Also, a number of the league’s supporters have begun talking again about the “indisputable proof” presented. So it seems about time that someone takes issue with the investigation’s findings and show just how disputable they are. The following is a breakdown of every piece of evidence made public in the bounty investigation and an explanation for how each one is either highly questionable, misrepresented or just flat out false.

The Sean Payton Statements

Sean Payton has made two statements with regard to the alleged bounty investigation. One is a joint statement with General Manager Mickey Loomis and the other is a statement from Payton alone. First was the joint statement which went as follows:

We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility.

This has brought undue hardship on Mr. Benson, who had nothing to do with this activity. He has been nothing but supportive and for that we both apologize to him.

These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game. Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.

Mickey Loomis & Sean Payton

The wording of the statement clearly refers to “violations” not bounties. The NFL’s findings in part outlined the pay-for-performance program that has been admitted to by a number of members of the organization. Pay-for-performance is not the same as pay-to-injure. The violations Payton and Loomis are referring to in this statement are the exact same ones that have been admitted to by others: pay-for-performance.

Payton’s individual statement reads:

I share and fully support the League’s concerns and goals on player safety. It is, and should be paramount. Respecting our great game and the NFL shield is extremely important to me. Our organization will implement all necessary protections and protocols, and I will be more vigilant going forward. I am sorry for what has happened and as head coach take full responsibility. Finally, I want to thank Mr. Benson, our players and all Saints fans for their overwhelming support.

Head Coach Sean Payton                                                                                                                                                               New Orleans Saints

Again, there is no admission of anything to do with bounties. It simply discusses the league’s safety movement and again apologizes for what has happened, or as he said in the first statement, the “violations”.

The Gregg Williams Statements

Gregg Williams has also given two statements regarding the alleged bounty investigation. The first statement came around the time of the initial announcement of the investigation in the beginning of March.

I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the ‘pay for performance’ program while I was with the Saints. It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.

Notice that Williams very clearly states he participated in a “pay for performance” program. He also never admitted to taking part in any bounty program in his second statement issued shortly after the penalties for the coaches, Loomis, and the Saints organization were handed down. It reads:

I’d like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions. Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship. I accept full responsibility for my actions. I highly value the 23 years that I’ve spent in the NFL. I will continue to cooperate fully with the league and its investigation and I will focus my energies on serving as an advocate for both player safety and sportsmanship. I will do everything possible to re-earn the respect of my colleagues, the NFL and its players in hopes of returning to coaching in the future.

The Pamphilon Recording

For all the uproar and feigned outrage at this recording, this was all an extremely overblown event. While some former players chose to speak out loudly about the contents of Williams’ speech to the Saints’ defense before their Divisional Playoff Game against the 49ers this past season, others have come out saying this speech is nothing they haven’t heard before. Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler & former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce have stated they have heard speeches like this for many years from many coaches. Former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross reacted by saying that anyone surprised by the speech was “clueless about the game.”

As for the targeting of injuries, this is not something new in the NFL. Only a few weeks before the Williams audio came out, Giants special-teamers Devin Thomas and Jacquian Williams admitted to targeting 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams. This is the same 49ers player and the same injury that people were outraged by when Gregg Williams talked about testing his injury. There was barely a word said about the Giants targeting injuries and there certainly were no bounty investigations.

The Anthony Hargrove Declaration

At first look, Hargrove’s declaration seems pretty damning. However, it’s only damning if you assume there actually was a bounty program. When you look at it in the context of what every member of the Saints organization has been saying all along it makes perfect sense and is 100% true. Payton, Loomis, Williams and numerous players have said that there was a pay-for-performance program but no pay-to-injure program. League investigators came to the team wanting to interview members of the Saints organization about a bounty program. Williams and Joe Vitt recommended Hargrove tell the league there was no bounty or bounty program. This was not asking Hargrove to lie. This was actually keeping him honest. He did not state that no money had changed hands and he did not say there were no wagers made among the players or coaches. Those statements would have been lies due to the pay-for-performance system that was in place. The statement Hargrove made allowed him to honestly deny the existence of the bounty program the league was investigating and not lie about a pay-for-performance program the league was not investigating. Williams and Loomis actually kept Hargrove honest and protected him in case the pay-for-performance program ever did get investigated.

As for the accusation by the league that Hargrove admitted the existence of an alleged bounty to former Vikings defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, Kennedy himself has said no such conversation ever occurred. Kennedy has no reason to lie since he was not accused of anything and he was on the Vikings team that missed out on going to the Super Bowl as a result of the game the investigation was centering around. If anything, Kennedy has every reason in the world to tell the truth if he knew anything about an alleged bounty.

Aside from the statements made within, the declaration itself as presented by the NFL raises a few interesting questions. For example, each paragraph in the statement was numbered, but paragraph 6 seems to be missing. What happened to this paragraph? Also, the font of paragraph 13 is different from the rest of the statement. Why is this paragraph a significantly different font size than the rest of the document? Neither question has ever been answered.

The Ledger

On June 1st, reports came out that the NFL had in its possession a ledger containing records of the Saints’ bounty payments. However, the credibility of the ledger lasted less than a day. In the initial reports, it was stated that the supposed ledger showed three $1,000 payouts for the 2009 Buffalo Bills game. The problem with that report is that no Bills players left that game due to injury. Shortly after this fact came out the story was changed to three $1,000 payouts during the 2009 Carolina Panthers game. However, this story also does not add up. Between both games between the Saints & Panthers in 2009, only one Panthers player left either game. That one player was LB Thomas Davis and his injury did not come on a special teams play, therefore no Saints defensive player could have benefited from his leaving the game. To this day, the actual ledger has never been produced and no further reports of its contents have come out since the first two reports were proven fraudulent.

The Appeals Hearing

Following the appeals hearing at the league offices in New York City, Goodell decided to hold a meeting with the press and show them the proof he intended to use in the hearing. It was less than impressive. While Exhibits 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 & 14 contain quite a bit of proof of the pay-for-performance program that was admitted to, there is nothing even close to proof of a pay-to-injure program as well as no references to “cart-offs” or “bounties”. Exhibits 15 & 16 did not even exist when the penalties for all involved were handed down. So let’s focus on the rest of the exhibits.

Exhibit 2: The Ornstein Email

This exhibit is an email from Mike Ornstein to Gregg Williams. The email reads “(Expletive) I gave you 1500 last week, I will give you another 1500 the next 4 game, and the final 2000 the last 4.” There is absolutely no reference to bounties or pay-for-performance anywhere in this email. In fact, there is no indication as to what this money was for at all other than it has something to do with the games. This money could just as easily be for tickets or a suite that Williams had access to. Perhaps Williams was helping provide Ornstein access to the team against the wishes of Tom Benson and the money was compensation. There are any number of explanations that fit this email that have nothing to do with bounties.

Exhibit 3: The Mike Karney slide

As stated earlier, there is no evidence at all in exhibit of “bounties”, “cart-offs”, or pay-to-injure. However, there is a slide in this exhibit that one reporter has misrepresented as proof of a bounty on former Saints fullback Mike Karney. There is no indication of a bounty on Karney anywhere in the slide or the entire exhibit for that matter. The slide contains no mention of money or targeting him. What the slide does contain is statistics showing that the St. Louis Rams were actually worse with Karney in the game. Why would the Saints want to take out a player that made their opponent worse? The idea simply makes no sense.

Exhibit 5: The Roman Harper “cart-off”

A PowerPoint slide from a defensive team meeting following the game against the New York Giants in 2009 claims Roman Harper earned $1,000 for a “cart-off.” The problem with this claim is that Roman Harper did not take anyone out of that game. There were only two injuries to the Giants’ offense in that game according to the play-by-play breakdown of the game on both the NFL’s & ESPN’s websites. The first was Brandon Jacobs. Around the 8:00 minute mark in the 2nd quarter he was taken down on a solo tackle by Darren Sharper (not Harper). He left the field and was later reported to have a stinger according to the USA Today article written the day after the game. Jacobs would later return to the game. Harper was in no way involved with the tackle. According to the stat sheet, all of Sharper’s tackles were solo. I was also able to account for all of Harper’s tackles listed elsewhere on the play-by-play. Clearly, any injury Jacobs incurred on that play was from Sharper, not Harper. The only other injury during the game was Kareem McKenzie who injured himself by stepping on a loose ball following an Eli Manning sack-fumble with about 27 seconds left in the first half.

Exhibit 9: The “Dog the Bounty Hunter” slide

Apparently the league and its investigators decided to pick and choose what fit their narrative with this exhibit. The league points to a slide from before the 2010 Wildcard Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks that includes a picture of Dog the Bounty Hunter and the words “Now its time to do our job…collect bounty$$$!” These two things were not the only things on the slide however, despite the fact that the league tends to ignore everything else. The same slide also contains a picture of a person in the crosshairs of a sniper scope, but Goodell has not launched an investigation to look for snipers in the rafters of the Superdome. One of the other lines on the slide says “Armed and dangerous?” yet the league has not felt it necessary to frisk players as they walk onto the field. “Must suspect be delivered dead or alive?” No player has ever left the field of the Superdome or any other NFL stadium in a body bag. So why does the league choose to take this one line and this one picture seriously but nothing else on the slide?

The truth of this slide is simple to understand when you look at it as a whole. The actual words written on the slide are a detailed description of preparing to take down a fugitive. A coach looking to talk to his players about the importance of preparation to defeat an opposing offense could easily draw a comparison with the detailed preparation outlined on the slide. Through thorough, detailed preparation paired with doing their job of shutting down the opposing offense, a team can collect a W. It’s all basic motivational speaking.

Exhibit 10: The Favre Bounty note transcript

For this exhibit, the league presented a transcript of a hand-written note they claim to have found regarding the amounts of several contributions to a bounty on the head of Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. The first problem with this exhibit is that in three different places it is noted that parts of the original note were illegible, including part of the title. This means two things. First, if they were unable to transcribe parts of this note, then we obviously do not know everything that was written. Second, if there were parts of this note that could not be read by the person transcribing it and it was all in the same handwriting, how much confidence can be had in the transcription? Without being able to see the original note for ourselves, there is no way to know for sure.

Perhaps a more troubling problem with this exhibit though is the accuracy of the information the league does present. The note states that Vilma, Charles Grant and Ornstein each allegedly contributed $10,000 to the Favre bounty and Vitt allegedly contributed $5,000. The first problem with this is the Vitt contribution. According to Vitt’s lawyer David Cornwell, “the NFL has never, in multiple written communications and in three face-to-face meetings, accused Coach Vitt of putting money into the program.” Also Jeff Miller, NFL V.P. of Security, stated that the league didn’t have any reason to believe Vitt was contributing money to the pool. So if even the league’s own statements are implying that part of this exhibit is false, how can any of it be trusted?

Then there is the issue of the Ornstein contribution. Previously the league claimed Ornstein offered up $5,000 on the head of Aaron Rodgers for the 2011 season opener by email. That email was sent from the federal prison in Florence, CO while Ornstein was still incarcerated. So unless he was going to FedEx five grand worth of cigarettes to the Saints facility or offer to work off the debt by shanking people for the winner, there’s no way the $5,000 could have been a serious offer. Ornstein stated his comment was part of a running joke stemming from the league’s false belief in a Favre bounty. If the league had this proof that there was a Favre bounty and Ornstein was involved, why would they keep it hidden rather than use it to call him out as a liar and prove his involvement in both bounties?

The next problem is the amount of the bounty. From the very beginning of the league’s accusations they have repeatedly stated that Vilma put up a $10,000 bounty on Favre. If they had this note all along, if they believed the full bounty was $35,000, and if they believed there were actually four people in on it, why was there not one word about any of it other than Vilma until almost July? Finally, does the league have anything to back up this note since it is at least partially inaccurate according to the statements of the league’s own V.P of Security?

The Anthony Hargrove Video

According to the NFL’s original claim, this video allegedly showed Hargrove on the sidelines of the 2009 NFC Championship Game saying “Bobby, give me my money.” Finally after two weeks of public denials and a voice recognition test, the NFL finally acknowledged that the voice on the video was not that of Hargrove. In an attempt to save face the league then claimed “The identity of the player who made the statement was immaterial” to the penalties handed down. They claim that the video provides proof that Hargrove and others had full knowledge of a bounty program operating within the Saints organization. That is where the league is wrong.

One problem with this video is the statement itself. “Bobby, give me my money.” If this statement were a request to be paid on an alleged bounty on Favre, why would the person speaking ask Bobby McCray for the bounty? According to the league’s own evidence, no part of the alleged bounty of $35,000 bounty came from McCray. Nothing in the league’s evidence indicates McCray was named team bounty treasurer. Most confusing of all, why would anyone be telling McCray to pay up on the alleged bounty when McCray was the player who hit Favre in the first place and would be the one getting paid? So why would anyone be asking him to pay up on the alleged Favre bounty? It simply makes no sense.

Another problem with this video is that there is no idea who actually made the statement and to who it was made. At the time the words “Bobby give me my money” are heard, nobody’s mouth can be seen moving. The league obviously did not perform a voice analysis on the players that would have been involved in that discussion on the sidelines. There is also no list in the league’s evidence accounting for what other coaches, team personnel, league personnel, media members, etc. were in the immediate area, any of whom could have made that comment to someone other than a player in a completely unrelated conversation. There are a lot of possible explanations that the league never bothered to look into.

 

For the latest developments, see PART 2, PART 3, PART 4 and PART 5.

To read the alternate theory of Bountygate, click here.

About Who Dat TN

A New Orleans native currently residing in Tennessee following Hurricane Katrina. Regardless of location, I'll bleed black & gold until the day I die. Follow on Twitter: @whodattn

Discussion

26 Responses to “Tearing Down Bountygate Piece By Piece: PART 1”

  1. Excellent work Coach. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. It’s sad that we have a media so complicit and so ready to toe-the-line instead of speaking truth to power as they should. It’s a sad commentary on us as a people that we are so quick to accept the status quo while the powers that be do and say all that want to achieve their own selfish means. Thank God that there are still those such as yourself out there that seek the truth and I am also grateful that you are so willing to take the time to share it. Bravo. Well done and many thanks.

    Posted by whodatd | September 17, 2012, 11:07 am
  2. TeN-Man … Whale sad … A very good & informative read !!!

    Posted by Dixie | September 16, 2012, 10:48 am
  3. Great Job, TN! You have done what should have been done by a reporter on this entire story; Too bad it takes a fan to look at the facts and report them. Good Job Good Effort and each word is true! Everyone send this out via email, twitter or Facebook. Release the hounds of truth. Glad TN is working da truth line!! Go get em, Tiger!!

    Posted by KeepTheDomeLoud | September 16, 2012, 10:42 am
  4. There is one additional thing bout the coaches, GM and team statements that I believe is relevant. As I recall (and someone please correct me if I am wrong), the original suspension for Payton was stated as one year, period. after his appeal was denied, the suspension was stated to be one year, and then he could apply for reinstatement (or something to that effect). I got the distinct impression that Lord Goody effectively told Payton to shut up or he will never coach in the NFL again.

    I think all management statements (Payton, GW, Loomis, team) are very carefully worded to not rock the boat, and so they seem to be more in line with the NFL’s story than the players stance. It’s kind of hard to be defiant when you have a gun to your head…….

    Posted by dave61548 | September 16, 2012, 10:18 am
    • You recall correctly about the suspension. Here’s the catch to Goodell’s suspension though. If Payton, Loomis, Williams, and the team follow the players’ lead and get their case before the system arbitrator, the suspensions of Payton and Williams would not stand. Article 14 of the CBA only allows for a max suspension of one year. After that Goodell wouldn’t be able to keep them out of the league.

      Posted by whodattn | September 16, 2012, 10:40 am
  5. Well done and well written TN! Glad to have you on our side…the Dark Side!

    Posted by WhoDat_225 | September 16, 2012, 10:09 am
  6. A Team Victimized …
    An astute breakdown of the ‘Bountgate Nightmare’ !!!
    Thank you, TN for the walk through of each piece of evidence … Each ‘indisputable proof’ disputable !!!
    TN, your research and hard work is appreciated and exceptional ….. it is ….. A Challenged Revealed !!!

    Posted by dsaintsgal | September 16, 2012, 10:05 am
  7. Appreciate the hard work that goes into this post ….. thanks TN. The story is still evolving. Is there a sequel in the works?

    Posted by daleev | September 16, 2012, 10:05 am
    • If one is needed, there certainly will be. I’ve grown tired of this “indisputable” story.

      Posted by whodattn | September 16, 2012, 10:18 am
  8. Fantastic read and really breaks it all down so everyone can see exactly what a scam this whole witch hunt has been from the beginning. Also, voice analysis on the alleged Hargrove recording, concluded that it isn’t him, but don’t let the facts stand in the way of Goodell’s agenda.

    Posted by tvlgds | September 16, 2012, 9:40 am
  9. You make a great case, counselor, many thanks for taking the time to pull this together. The Emperor truly has no clothes. Indeed, his courtiers and sycophants have no honor, as they continue to lick his boots and serve as his cabin boy. And when his scurrilous Bounty finally sinks to the murky depths, tangled in its own sails of treachery, a chant of victory will be heard across the land. Who Dat!!!

    Posted by nolagirl | September 16, 2012, 9:32 am
    • Man …. who writes like this?? Paint a picture why don’t ya ! If I didn’t know your name, I would expect you are J.K. Rowling posting as a Who Dat. Blog on gal !!

      Posted by daleev | September 16, 2012, 10:14 am
      • Clearly I am feeling over the top this fine rainy Saintly Sunday morning LOL! I have just claimed my table at the Shoal Creek Saloon and am ready to cheer myself hoarse! Will check in with y’all later on

        Posted by nolagirl | September 16, 2012, 10:53 am
  10. Great post, TN! Thanx for taking the time to sort through this and making important points that everyone should understand. You should send this to the league and let them read it. Maybe they will finally ‘understand’. Doubt it, though.

    Posted by nolaqb | September 16, 2012, 9:20 am
  11. Great post TN! It’s ridiculous it’s the day of game 2 and the coaches are still sitting out for something that the NFL has fabricated!

    Posted by RossMcR | September 16, 2012, 8:15 am
    • Think they’ve damaged the Saints ability to compete on an even field with all of the other teams? I do.

      Posted by theaussiesaint | September 16, 2012, 8:45 am
  12. And TN, and all; it is time to call this as it is: BOUNTY SCAM. It is a con job.

    Posted by canmannac | September 16, 2012, 8:11 am
  13. TN, laying it out in black & white for those blind fools. Good read and excellent work.

    Posted by canmannac | September 16, 2012, 8:06 am
  14. Kudos to you TN

    Is the reporter putting Karney’s slide out of context a certain Jeff Duncan?

    Posted by bondcrash | September 16, 2012, 7:51 am
    • Indeed it was. Every reference I saw to the Karney fabrication traced back to his story. It seems the only person who truly believed it though was John Barr.

      Posted by whodattn | September 16, 2012, 10:21 am
  15. OUTSTANDING, TN!!!!
    Now every time some d-bag posts a comment on some other website about how the Saints are guilty, I can just paste in this link!

    Posted by dave61548 | September 16, 2012, 7:42 am
    • That’s one of the big reasons I decided to write this. To provide one central go-to point when arguing with Bountygate believers.

      Posted by whodattn | September 16, 2012, 10:25 am
  16. OUTSTANDING!…..Bravo – great read, all good points. It’s a shame the national “bobble-heads” don’t have the stones to go against Don Goodeloni & do this type of “truth or fiction” check. This entire investigative fiasco by the NFL has been like watching a “Shell Game” where there is NO red ball under any of the shells – they just keep moving them around, but after you chose one, they just say “Nope…not there….” & move them around again……

    One follow up note about Hargrove & the “Bobby, pay me my money….” – IF it WAS Anthony…..:

    Hargrove signed a 1yr/$620k league minimum deal w/the Saints May 18, 2009. After having a solid season & a nice post season, do you not think, as a player, he might be thinking he’s due a pay raise after a big performance on a big stage? One month after the Super Bowl, April 6, 2010, he signs a NEW 1 yr deal w/the Saints for $1.226m – DOUBLED his salary. I think he got his money. Is THIS what he was talking about? Who knows – suffice to say, there could have been SEVERAL different meanings by the statement, regardless of who said it. Pretty weak arguement on the NFL’s part.

    Great job, TN.

    Posted by ukwhodat | September 16, 2012, 7:33 am
  17. Thanks for posting this TN, I’m tired of this team being thrown under the bus from the legitimate media. ( except, Florio & the LA times ) Way to roll up your sleeves and research, they could learn something from you.

    Posted by egghead | September 16, 2012, 7:10 am
  18. All valid points, TN.

    Posted by wdatwarrior44 | September 16, 2012, 7:05 am
  19. TN, you are a weapon.

    Posted by theaussiesaint | September 16, 2012, 7:00 am

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