The National Football League invited 12 reporters (12 jurors?) into their offices to show what evidence they had gathered relating to the New Orleans Saints alleged bounty program. (Although we say "alleged," it's getting harder and harder to not just report that one existed.) Among those 12 reporters was Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
The league appears to have convinced King that a bounty program existed.
Earlier today, FieldandCourt.com obtained a copy of the league's evidence. In a previous article, that evidence was discussed. And according to King, the 12 reporters heard the exact same evidence from the NFL that the players heard.
King came away from the private meeting with the feeling that the NFL's evidence is "explosive" and "compelling," while Jonathan Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg, still doesn't believe credible evidence exists.
"There could be nothing credible about that because it never happened," Ginsberg said referring to a bounty program. Apparently, Ginsberg is taking the "close your eyes as tight as you can, plug your ears and yell 'la-la-la' really loud" approach to this situation. The evidence is there and is compelling, even if it's skeletal.
Not only does King feel the evidence is compelling, he tweeted specific bounty payments and pools made by the Saints.
King also confirmed what we suspected about Exhibit 10 of the NFL's evidence: it was a pool, not payments, for anyone who took Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Title game.
Vilma's best approach to this case is not to claim that a bounty program didn't exist, but to take the offensive and sue the New Orleans Saints and Gregg Williams for negligent hiring.
Vilma was the Saints' employee and they hired a person (Williams) to be Vilma's boss. That boss put into place a program that punished the employees if they failed to perform but rewarded them if they did illegal acts (hurting opposing players).
By its very nature, the NFL is a place where each player has to satisfy their bosses or they will be cut, no matter how many years they have remaining on their contract. In order for Vilma—or any of the other Saints players—to keep their jobs, they had to engage in the bounty program implemented by Williams.
That's a much better approach than denying what is so painfully obvious: a bounty program existed and the NFL showed that certain players participated in it. At least Vilma would have more credibility with fans.