We’re beginning to learn why the punishment for the four players the NFL found to be involved in the Saints bounty program was so harsh.
A former U.S. attorney was reportedly hired by the NFL to evaluate its investigation of the Saints bounty program. And though the NFLPA has stated that the NFL has yet to provide detailed evidence, former U.S. attorney, Mary Jo White believes that the evidence gathered by the NFL was “unusually strong”. And payments were indeed made. Most of it from the players.
Mary Jo White said in a conference call that evidence in the league’s investigation of the three-year pay-for-pain system provided “an unusually strong record” and came from people with “firsthand knowledge and corroborated by documentation.”
When asked twice whether any players actually were paid for hits, White confirmed they were without going into specifics. She added that most of the money in the bounty scheme was provided by the players.
“Without them, there wouldn’t been a bounty program,” she said.
White saw no merit in complaints from the players’ union that it had not received, “detailed or specific evidence from the league of specific players’ involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program.”
“The players sanctioned all activity and enthusiastically embraced this program,” White said. “They always had the option to say no. They didn’t say no.
“It is no defense that coaches were involved in it, this was an individual responsibility each player has and each coach has. Each player had the responsibility to say no to this program and they didn’t do that. They obviously had the option to report this to the union and they didn’t do that.”