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Shockey hits back at Sapp over accusation in Saints bounty case

Carolina Panthers v Arizona Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Tight end Jeremy Shockey #80 of the Carolina Panthers congratulates quarterback Cam Newton #1 after he threw a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the NFL season opening game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey has come forward publicly to defend himself after former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp said that Shockey was a “snitch” who informed the league office about the Saints bounty case.

Sapp first said on Twitter, and then repeated on NFL Network, that he had been told that Shockey was the person who blew the whistle on Gregg Williams’ bounty program. When we first mentioned the issue we didn’t include Shockey’s name because it seemed unfair to Shockey to name him based on what appeared to be a flimsy accusation from Sapp. But now Shockey has decided he wants to counter Sapp’s accusation publicly.

On Twitter today, Shockey posted what appeared to be text messages between himself and Saints coach Sean Payton, including one from Payton that said, “I know you had nothing to do with that.”

Shockey also told Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports that Sapp’s accusation was false and totally inexcusable.

It’s reckless, it’s careless, it’s hurtful to me and the great time I had with the Saints,” Shockey said. “Sean Payton is a father figure to me. I would never do that to him or to the Saints.”

One surprising aspect of Sapp’s accusation is that NFL Network aired it even though Sapp didn’t name his source and acknowledged that he hadn’t asked the league office if his source was correct. There’s also the reality -- apparently lost on both Sapp and Shockey -- that bounties are against NFL rules, and therefore the person who reported the Saints’ bounties to the league office is a whistleblower, not a snitch.

If Shockey had refused to dignify Sapp’s comments with a response, he would have been well within his rights. But Shockey decided to respond strongly to Sapp. NFL Network should let its viewers know whether it stands by the information Sapp put on the air.