Jonathon Vilma and others have been asking for the NFL to prove they have evidence that the New Orleans Saints ran a bounty program and this may be the first inkling that evidence does exist.
According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the NFL has a copy of a ledger that was kept detailing weekly earnings for Saints players that participated in the bounty program. The ledger reportedly shows money earned for “cart-offs” and “whacks” and money deducted for “mental errors”. And apparently, the NFL has already shown portions of the ledger to those who were under investigation.
“The players clearly knew what was going each week with the payments,” a source told Yahoo! Sports. In fact, multiple sources admitted that Saints defensive players would regularly encourage teammates to put money earned from the bounty system back into the pool. It’s unclear if that was to increase the potential winnings or eventually use the money for some other purpose.
Cole also reached out to NFLPA spokeman George Atallah via text message who told him that the league “made mention” of the ledger, but the NFLPA has not seen it. And in his eyes, the use of the ledger as evidence is iffy.
“I guess it either qualifies as evidence, which means fair due process was violated because [the] players didn’t get to see it before they were punished or it is not hard evidence because they didn’t get to see it and cross examine the validity of that piece of evidence,” Atallah wrote.
So really this whole thing boils down to semantics. The NFL will argue that the ledger is all the evidence they need. The players will argue that the ledger doesn’t prove that pay out were given.
But at any rate, this definitely doesn’t help the players’ case.