Report: Saints had ledger detailing bounty payments for cart-offs

Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports is reporting that the NFL has a “ledger” showing earnings for New Orleans Saints players in the bounty program, which includes payments of $1,000 for cart-offs, $400 for hard hits and $100 deductions for mental errors.

According to sources, the NFL showed portions of the ledger during meetings with some of those who have been investigated in the scandal.

“The players clearly knew what was going each week with the payments,” a source told Yahoo! Sports. In fact, multiple sources admitted that Saints defensive players would regularly encourage teammates to put money earned from the bounty system back into the pool. It’s unclear if that was to increase the potential winnings or eventually use the money for some other purpose.

Regardless of whether the money was paid out or not, the mere implication of a cash payment for such plays is considered a violation of league rules.

As Cole points out in his article, the ledger doesn’t necessarily prove that there was an actual transaction between Gregg Williams (or Joe Vitt, or Sean Payton) and the Saints players. But it is strong evidence that a bounty program did exist. That said, Williams has already apologized for his actions in New Orleans so it’s not as if anyone is debating whether or not the Saints had a bounty program in place. The ledger only adds fuel to a fire that’s already 20 feet high.

Of course, the NFLPA is trying to put a spin on the situation by suggesting the ledger isn’t really evidence. Says spokesman George Atallah via text message: “I guess it either qualifies as evidence, which means fair due process was violated because [the] players didn’t get to see it before they were punished or it is not hard evidence because they didn’t get to see it and cross examine the validity of that piece of evidence.”

Well said Prosecutor Atallah.

Should Goodell have shown Vilma evidence before suspending him? Probably, which is why many deem Goodell a dictator. If he had evidence that Vilma participated in the bounty program, why not show the linebacker the proof before suspending him for the entire season? Because Goodell wanted to demonstrate that he’s the one with all the power?

Still, go back two years ago when Goodell asked Williams and Payton whether or not they were running a bounty program, and they lied to his face by telling him no. If the Saints didn’t violate any rules, Williams, Payton and Vilma would be getting ready for the upcoming season. After all, let’s not lose focus of the issue at hand.

It’ll be interesting to see what piece of evidence comes out next, because you know there will be more to emerge. Whether or not Vilma will look like a fool for pressing the issue is the question.

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