Believe me, I'd much rather write about the start of NFL training camp later this month than the ongoing New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. However, it looks like the Mayan calendar will end long before the bounty saga does. The latest development is a coy admission from Roger Goodell that a second piece of Saints' bounty evidence was not completely accurate.
Although he was criticized for addressing the media in a t-shirt and cap, there was something about Green Bay Packers DE Anthony Hargrove's denial that he said, "Give me my money!" that rang true to me. I wrote that Hargrove's denial seemed impassioned and real. Two weeks later, Roger Goodell admitted he can't prove it was Hargrove's voice.
To paraphrase a lengthy letter sent to Anthony Hargrove by Goodell, the NFL commissioner said he's willing to assume it wasn't Hargrove's voice in the audio because regardless of which Saints player said it, the audio still proves there was a financial incentive to injure Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre.
Roger Goodell has previously stated that Anthony Hargrove was suspended for initially lying to NFL investigators about the existence of a "pay for performance" system in New Orleans. This is why Goodell believes that Hargrove's eight-game suspension should stand since the audio didn't lead to his decision.
Although Roger Goodell may technically be correct, it doesn't look good for the NFL's case that its identification of Hargrove may be incorrect. As a matter of fact, the Hargrove audio is not the first time a piece of bounty evidence against the Saints has been refuted. The first person incorrectly linked to a false document was Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt.
When Roger Goodell finally released some of the evidence against the Saints, there was a bounty ledger showing that Joe Vitt had put up money. Vitt angrily denied the claim. In a shocking development that went largely ignored by the national media, Goodell called Vitt back and told him that he was right about that evidence being inaccurate.
Roger Goodell would have us believe that just because one or two pieces of evidence have been refuted doesn't mean that the preponderance of the rest of the evidence isn't strong. But consider this. Don't you think Goodell would have released some of his best evidence against the Saints to the media to win the PR game and make his case look solid?
If these proceedings were taking place in a court of law, Roger Goodell's case against Anthony Hargrove, the other suspended players and the New Orleans Saints franchise may have been thrown out by now. Unless the federal judge throws out the case, these proceedings will move to a court of law shortly.
And when that happens, Roger Goodell will learn there is a big difference between being judge, jury, executioner and appellate judge and being a defendant.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
Mike Florio, "League backs off view that Hargrove said 'give me my money'," profootballtalk.nbcsports.com
Brett Martel, "Coach Vitt challenges piece of NFL bounty evidence," yahoo.com
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