Evidence shows Saints’ defamation suit is lame
The picture in the Saints’ bounty scandal recently became clearer – and the latest revelations do not reflect favorably on the Saints’ two biggest on-field leaders.
When reports of a “ledger” detailing Saints’ bounties surfaced, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s attorney shot back. Peter Ginsberg said “whacks” and “cart offs” were “descriptions of good, clean legal plays.”
Yes, he actually said that. Good luck in that defamation suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Then, there’s audio of a voicemail that sounds a lot like quarterback Drew Brees speaking to filmmaker Sean Pamphilon. In the audio that Pamphilon says is Brees, the Saints quarterback asks to review the statement that will go out with an audio recording that Pamphilon made of Gregg Williams before January’s playoff game against the 49ers.
In that audio, Williams is heard targeting certain 49ers players in the game. If Pamphilon’s recording is really a Brees voice mail (and it sure sounds like the Saints quarterback), it is confirmation of the Saints’ strategy during the entire process.
It’s pretty simple: Blame the entire sordid affair on Gregg Williams.
So, let’s see. We are supposed to believe that despite the ledger, “cart offs” of opposing players are good things. We are supposed to believe that Vilma did not put a bounty on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.
We are supposed to believe that convicted felon Mike Ornstein, in an email from prison, was just joking when he said to put him down for $5,000 on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
We are supposed to believe that the Saints’ bounty program was solely the responsibility of what Joe Vitt’s attorney called “a rogue” defensive coordinator. We are supposed to believe that the bounty program is a witch hunt against the New Orleans Saints by an overzealous NFL commissioner.
Roger Goodell, the guy who worked side by side with then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue to help bring the Saints back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, has it out for New Orleans. And, that he has a personal vendetta against suspended head coach Sean Payton.
As every detail trickles out, my guess is Goodell took the hammer out on the Saints organization not only for the bounty scandal but also for arrogance.
Since March, I have asked this question to myself many times: Why would an NFL commissioner suspend a head coach for a year, a player for a year, and a general manager for eight games if he didn’t have concrete evidence? To do so would make no sense.
If, after the Super Bowl win, the Saints had come clean about the bounty program, my guess is the damage would have been minimal. The club may have forfeited a draft choice and received a fine.
But it would have been over.
But, more than two years later, “cart offs” are good and clean.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarion herald.org.