The NFL turned over some 200 documents on Friday as evidence that will be used Monday in the appeals of four players suspended for their alleged roles in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
But according to attorney Peter Ginsberg, who represents linebacker Jonathan Vilma, there isn’t a piece of evidence corroborating the NFL’s claim that the player offered $10,000 to anyone that could knock out an opposing quarterback during the 2009 playoffs.
A report by James Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune casts doubt on the evidence the league has in suspending Vilma for the entire 2012 season without pay. Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove will also be appealing their lesser suspensions on Monday.
“There could be nothing credible about that because it never happened,” Ginsberg said of the assertion Vilma offered up cash for a knockout hit on a quarterback.
Basically, the summary is that the Saints did operate a pay-for-performance system that is illegal in the NFL. But Ginsberg says there isn’t evidence that a more sinister pay-to-injure program was in place.
"That's because there are no credible witnesses who could substantiate the commissioner's allegations," Ginsberg said.
Of course, perhaps the NFL has additional evidence that will paint an entirely different picture at appeal. The NFLPA believes its case has been strengthened. Keep in mind, the appeal is going straight back to the NFL though and chances of a victory or reduction of penalty seem slim. Stay tuned.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune