When Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints were beaten by the San Francisco 49ers in January's NFC Divisional Playoff Game, the offseason narrative for the NFC South champions appeared obvious. Fix the mistakes and reload for another Super Bowl run.
The name Sean Pamphilon meant nothing to us back then. Little did we know the documentarian already had built the bomb he'd later drop on the NFL offseason.
Pamphilon was a friend to the organization when he made that recording, part of a larger documentary on former Saints special-teamer Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS. When the "bounty" fiasco kicked into high gear, Pamphilon struggled with releasing his footage. Before doing so, he claims to have consulted with Brees and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita. He says those two, especially, have since backed away from their involvement in the tape going viral.
We've heard more than enough from Pamphilon in recent months, but his take on the matter -- and his angle on Brees, especially -- is worth passing along:
"You don't know if they're standing by (the audio release), because they're ignoring it," he told XEPRS-AM in San Diego, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "Scott briefly addressed it after it came out, but Drew hasn't owned it at all, and no one's called him on it. The guy is as Teflon as you can get. And the fact is that when I wanted to release that audio because I felt it was culturally important, as soon as I realized what I had -- I had never listened to it -- so when I went back and listened to it, after the story broke on March 2, I heard it really for the first time ... and when I heard it, I was sickened by it.
"... I lobbied Steve Gleason to release it; he wasn't having it because he didn't want to damage his relationship with the Saints. Scott Fujita became involved because he was in one of the shots, so I sent it to him and I solicited his opinion, which is in that essay, which he has completely backed away from, and disavowed. And instead of owning it, he said that, 'Well, those were texts that shouldn't have been released, they were personal.' But the reason why our stuff was released is because after all this happened, those guys all turned away from me and let me get publicly attacked.
"Drew Brees knew that this stuff existed and he's continually said that there's no evidence that the bounty existed. Then why is he on the phone with me two hours before I released the audio, and he's saying to me 'I want to see your essay before this hits the wire'? He was part of it, but he pretends like he's not. And it's amazing to me that this sacred cow is allowed to walk around and acting as if he's not even involved, saying that there's no evidence. He's referencing weapons of mass destruction. Well, if there's nothing to hide and there's no evidence, then Drew, why are you calling me two hours before it's released, trying to, quote-unquote, shape it?"
Brees maintains near-mayoral status in New Orleans. The man who helped deliver a Super Bowl to this long-suffering franchise is viewed as a local hero. As with every new chapter in this tricky, twisting case, we're barraged with multiple, conflicting viewpoints. Pamphilon spent time on the inside with Williams and his players, but he wasn't one of them. He is a voice from the wilderness, with a disturbing song to sing.