NEW YORK -- The NFL possesses a typed sheet that appears to detail financial rewards promised by New Orleans Saints players and coaches in exchange for knocking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
Four players who were suspended for their involvement in the Saints' "bounty" program (linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, former linebacker Scott Fujita and former defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove) were having the appeals of their suspensions heard Monday. The league gave the one-page document, along with 200 pages of evidence, to the NFL Players Association ahead of the hearing; a union source passed the document to NFL.com on Monday.
The item, which was typed from handwritten notes obtained by the NFL, is titled "Minny Game $$ QB [illegible] Out" and lists monetary pledges from Jonathan Vilma ($10,000), assistant head coach Joe Vitt ($5,000), linebacker Scott Fujita ($2,000) and someone referred to as "Smith" ($5,000), with various designations that appear to be related to knocking the quarterback out. Favre was the quarterback for the Vikings in that game.
Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season. Vitt (six games), Fujita (three games) and Smith (four games) were all also hit with lesser suspensions.
The document also appears to show pledges of thousands of dollars made by members of the defensive backfield, such as cornerback Jabari Greer, safety Roman Harper and former Saints Darren Sharper and Tracy Porter, in exchange for a "pick 6," or an interception that is returned for a touchdown.
The document supports part of the NFL's argument that money was pledged toward a bounty, but it doesn't provide direct proof of a link between the pledges and the actual payment of funds, substantiating the players' skepticism of the evidence the league possesses.
The NFLPA has said the NFL's evidence is flimsy, while the league has said multiple times it has strong proof. Much of the evidence the league said it has obtained was not in the information provided to the NFPLA. The league has said it has collected roughly 18,000 pieces of evidence.
The NFLPA, in a summary of the evidence, argued that overall, the NFL failed to disclose who provided the evidence, when it was created or where it was obtained.
The union also argued that it found in its own investigation of the matter that terms used by former players -- and definitely suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- were misrepresented by the NFL to justify its case for suspending Vilma, Fujita, Smith and Hargrove.
The NFLPA argued that the NFL never asked the coaches it interviewed in the investigation to explain certain terms like "kill the head." The NFLPA argued that the phrase and phrases like it were simply football jargon used to motivate and not meant to be taken literally.
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