NFLPA's De Smith Asks Goodell To Reopen Investigation Into Saints' Bounty Program
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith has written to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to "reopen the investigation" of the Saints' bounty program, according to ESPN.com. Smith during an interview with "Pro Football Talk Live" said, "Frankly, I believe that the investigators let the commissioner down. Our hope, and certainly it will be a message from me to the league soon, is that given all of the recantations and all of the contradictions and, as exemplified by the video, all of the things that are clearly not clear, shouldn't we be taking another hard look about where this investigation failed the commissioner?" In his letter to Goodell, Smith said the league's investigation "has come under question for being unprofessional, unsubstantiated and incomplete." NFL Exec VP/Labor & General Counsel Jeff Pash said, "I wish that (Smith) would have come to the hearing on Monday because he would have seen how earnest an effort the commissioner personally made to have the players comment and tell him what their side of the story is." He added, "If De had been able to be here Monday and participate in the hearing, he would have a different view perhaps than what he has today" (ESPN.com, 6/22). NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah in response to Pash's comments said that Smith "didn't attend the hearing because he didn't have a role in it." Atallah added, "Whether or not De was there is irrelevant to the players. He got to see the documents over the course of three days and didn’t see any other evidence since March. In short, small pieces of sh-t pieced together might be a mosaic, but it just amounts to one big mosaic of sh-t" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/23).
SMEAR CAMPAIGN? Suspended player Scott Fujita said that he "sees elements of a 'smear campaign'" in the league's investigation. Fujita said, "I'm not saying the NFL is intentionally lying. ... It's their cavalier interpretation of everything that's been way off. They clearly proceeded with a public smear campaign with very little regard for the truth." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said, "The process gave all of the players every opportunity to raise arguments and provide any mitigating information. Scott Fujita unfortunately chose not to avail himself of the process. Nothing that he has asserted in his various public statements undermines the findings of the investigation" (AP, 6/24). Fujita said, "I saw [Goodell] in the (appeal) hearings and he offered to shake all of our hands. Some of the other players didn't, but I went ahead and shook his hand, and I just said to him, 'What the hell are you doing, Roger?' He had nothing to say. His face sure turned red, though" (SI.com, 6/22).
REAP WHAT YOU SOW: In Boston, Greg Bedard writes under the header, "NFL Painted Itself Into A Box With Bounties." Bedard asks, "Did it have to get to this point? What the NFL should have done, after its investigation revealed evidence that would be scandalous, was to go to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and ask for cooperation for the benefit of the accused and also all players." The NFL should have "asked the NFLPA to hire a joint independent counsel to go through the evidence and interviews and do whatever else was warranted to establish a statement of facts in the case." Bedard: "That way, no one could accuse the NFL of playing fast and loose with the facts (for reasons we still can’t fathom). Of course, the NFLPA probably would have balked. God forbid it ever does anything real with the NFL for the betterment of the game. It won’t agree to hip pads, for crying out loud." In the end, the NFL "didn’t attempt to go the independent counsel route, and now it has left itself open to have every piece of evidence challenged" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/24).
T-SHIRT TIME: In New Orleans, Jeff Duncan noted a "cottage industry of anti-NFL/pro-Saints T-shirts has arisen across town." They are "ubiquitous, from the treasured tourist hot spots in the French Quarter to the trendy shops along Magazine Street." Apparel store Dirty Coast Head of Operations Patrick Brower estimated that his shop "has sold more than 4,000 shirts since they went on the market, making it the fastest-selling shirt in the store's 7-year history" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 6/24).
DE SMITH’S TEN THINGS: Smith fills in for SI’s Peter King and writes this week’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, listing his “Ten Things I Think I Think (Plus One).” No. 2: “I think the Nats are for real, and that I need to work Bryce Harper's 'That's a clown question, bro' into my next press conference.” No. 3: “I think members of the media think that I don't like them for some reason.” No. 8: “For the 1,645,934th time, I think my relationship with Roger Goodell is my relationship with Roger Goodell. Our friendship doesn't prevent us from doing our jobs. If we weren't strong we couldn't fight” (SI.com, 6/25).