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NFLPA document: A number of problems with league evidence

File image of Saints head coach Payton talks defensive coordinator Williams before practice for Super Bowl XLIV in Coral Gables, Florida FOR NFL-BOUNTIES

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton (R) talks to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams before practice for Super Bowl XLIV at the University of Miami practice facility in Coral Gables, Florida in this file image from February 4, 2010. The Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans are the latest National Football League (NFL) teams to be linked to bounty schemes which rewarded big hits on players. The NFL announced March 2, 2012 that their own investigation had uncovered that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran such a rewards scheme, including informal bonuses for knocking players out of a game, during three years at the Saints from 2009. Former Washington Redskins strong safety Matt Bowen said on March 3 that a similar bounty, made up of funds generated by the players themselves, was in operation during Williams’s time with the team. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


When Jonathan Vilma’s attorney Peter Ginsberg left league offices this morning after a brief stay at his client’s bounty hearing, he described the league’s process as a “sham.”

It’s clear that the Players Association agrees with that stance.

According to an NFLPA document obtained by PFT, the union took five main points away from the 200 pages of documents the league turned over Friday.

They are:

1. None of the slides the NFL presented as evidence were ever shown to any Saints coaches by league investigators.

2. The union believes it has valid explanations from Saints players, coaches and individuals who attended defensive meetings for the information the league is using as evidence of bounties.

3. The union believes after interviewing players who were present in the defensive meetings, that the words of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams which are being used as the focus of their investigation were intended to be motivational, rather than literal.

4. The union learned that Sean Payton associate Mike Ornstein told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell personally that he never intended the email as a “bounty,” telling Goodell of a message from Williams indicating the team never took it as such.

5. The league never informed players of any of potentially “exculpatory or mitigating evidence.”

The NFLPA also takes issue with the fact the league would not identify who created the documents or when, where, and how they were obtained, or whether players had seen them.

The NFLPA then asked for a three-day continuance to find out more answers, but that request was denied. At that point, the Commissioner informed players the league would not offer any witnesses at Monday’s hearing who created the documents.

Other key findings from the NFLPA information include:

1. A chart showing “Kill the head” hits, which are graded by coaches from coaches tape. That film doesn’t include sound, so officials’ whistles are inaudible, which they feel explains the high number of such hits shown in the chart.

2. A slide prepared by Williams to illustrate “assessing the opponent.”

This slide features an image of the reality television character “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” and includes the phrase “Now its time to do our job...collect bounty$$$!” along with “No apologies! Let’s go Hunting!”

The NFLPA document refers to it as “a poorly chosen and ironic example to use but life plays havoc on us at times.”

We’ve also acquired the information the league turned over, and obviously, we’ll have more on that as the day goes along.