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NFL needs to protect the Saints “snitch”


When conducting investigations regarding possible internal wrongdoing, it’s critical that the employer insist on complete honesty from any employees who are questioned. Absent zero tolerance for lying, it will be much harder to get to the truth.

It’s even more important that those who complain about wrongdoing or cooperate with an investigation be protected from any type of backlash. As a result, employees need to know that any form or shape or manner of retaliation will result in termination.

The NFL has yet to convey publicly the sense of outrage that should arise from the outright lying in which, based on Peter King’s article in the new Sports Illustrated, Saints coach Sean Payton, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and Saints assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt engaged when the NFL first investigated the bounty system in 2010. The NFL needs to ensure, both publicly and privately, that the person(s) who did the right thing in 2011 and allowed the league to dust off a cold case should face no repercussions.

This includes insisting that the person’s name at all times will remain private. Given that former Saints safety Darren Sharper, who claims he knows the name of the “snitch” and who believes the “snitch” had a “vendetta” against the team, it’s likely that Sharper has privately shared the name with someone who may then privately share the name, and so on until someone anonymously shares it with a member of the media.

As a result, the media should refrain from reporting or repeating the name. If the name gets out, the person who did the right thing will be rewarded with threats, insults, and perhaps worse.

The NFL encourages fans to be zealous. As a result, some fans are too zealous. Just as Patriots fans wanted to downplay Spygate and/or challenge those who refused to do so, Saints fans have become frustrated by the layer of tarnish that has been applied to their lone Lombardi Trophy. All it takes is one nutcase to take that frustration to a new level, and then the NFL can forget about anyone ever cooperating with any future investigations regarding instances of possible rules violations.

Think back to the 2005 playoffs. Steelers at Colts. Referee Pete Morelli concludes via replay review that Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu failed to make an interception. And someone showed their disagreement with the call by throwing a brick through Morelli’s window.

Even though the Steelers won the game.

If the league hasn’t already impressed upon the persons involved with this specific investigation that retaliation cannot occur, the league needs to do so. But it already may be too late. More than a few members of the media hope to “out” the “snitch,” and eventually someone will blab.

The NFL should be as concerned about that happening as the NFL is concerned about the brazen, blatant use of a bounty system by the Saints.

I also addressed this issue on Tuesday’s PFT Live. I can’t recall whether I said anything different than what I typed above. Let’s watch it together and compare notes. You go first.