A lot of new evidence regarding the New Orleans Saints' alleged "bounty" program was released to the public on Monday. The NFL met with 12 national reporters, including NFL.com's Steve Wyche, who were shown the same evidence that the league presented to suspended players at a disciplinary hearing earlier that day. The NFL Players Association also released some of the information on its website (a warning: some of the language on the slides is quite graphic). Jim Varney of The Times-Picayune has a great round-up of the evidence shared during the presentation.
"Now's the time to do our jobs, collect bounty $. No apologies. Let's go hunting," the slide reads.
Accompanying the slide: A bunch of dollar bills and a picture of Duane Chapman, a.k.a. "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
This says so much about the Saints' alleged bounty program. The team was brazen enough to document the program on computers after previously being investigated about it. And the players were still having fun with it; it was how the players and coaches got motivated.
Wyche: Analyzing the evidence
The Saints players have publicly recoiled at the use of the word "bounty," but the evidence shows the team used that term internally in meetings.
Other key evidence shown on the slides:
- A total of $35,000 in bounties were placed on Brett Favre prior to the 2009 NFC Championship Game, not $10,000, as had previously been believed. That included a $5,000 pledge from assistant coach Joe Vitt, who will fill in for Sean Payton while he's suspended this season. Jonathan Vilma's $10,000 bounty was reportedly confirmed by multiple sources.
- Williams and Vitt repeatedly said in the evidence that a bounty program existed. They provided much of the evidence. In arguing that they did not participate in a bounty program, players are essentially saying that Williams and Vitt are lying. The league also stressed to reporters that the majority of the league's evidence won't be shown to the public or the media.
We are going to see this information spun in many different ways, but it's hard not to see all this evidence piling up and not believe in the existence of a bounty program.