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Vilma a scapegoat?

Discussion in 'All Other Team Discussions' started by cupacker, May 3, 2012.

  1. cupacker
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    cupacker Cheesehead

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    http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7883438/saints-lb-jonathan-vilma-becomes-nfl-scapegoat

    This guy from ESPN is basically saying Goodell is just making a statement by suspending Vilma for the whole season, because he only deserves maybe a 4 game suspension. What do you think?

    The comments are interesting. A lot of people apparently do not see a difference between hitting someone (which is what a football player is supposed to do), and going out with the intention of injuring them. HUGE difference people.

    IMHO, I think the suspensions are justified. This is a very serious issue. Plus, idk about you guys but I had had enough of hearing about Hurricane Katrina and how the Saints were the best organization ever because of it, so I just think it's funny that how the table have turned.
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  2. Bensalama21
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    Bensalama21 Ben

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    He was the player that helped start the whole thing in the first place. Plus he lied when he was being investigated. That's also why he got a year long suspension. There's a reason why that he's just a "guy from ESPN" and not Goodell. :)
  3. Southpaw
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    Southpaw Endorphin Junkie

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    When serious violations are committed it has to be met with stiff penalties. Period.

    Same thing happened with spygate as much as Saints fans love to point to the Patriots getting off easy, they handed down the biggest fine on a coach in history and deducted a 1st round draft pick.

    I think all 16 games is a little harsh. I would have expected, at max 10 games.

    But this is a serious incident that violated policy and went against everything the league is trying to get rid of as far as malicious play and disregard for player safety.

    You almost have to make an example unless you want it to continue going on. I can guarantee whoever is running or is thinking about running a pay-for-performance bounty programs isn't going to be doing it anymore, simply because of what would happen to their organization if they got caught.

    If the punishments were mild, people would be more inclined to see how much they could get away with.
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  4. ivo610
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    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    Paul hornung got a year so it's not unheard of
  5. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    Disappointing to see professionals place their peers at risk this way.

    Without more information, I can't embrace the NFL's decision to suspend just four players when it has said 22 to 27 players were involved. The case against Vilma looks pretty damning but the extent of Hargrove, Smith and Fujita's participation remains sketchy. Why exactly are these guys more culpable than other participants?
  6. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    The reason a lot of people don't see a HUGE difference between simply hitting someone and hitting someone with intent to injure is that many guys get hurt in the NFL regardless. It's a remarkably violent sport: .

    Line drawing isn't easy and intent can be difficult to determine. Fairness is often subjective.

    I think Southpaw has it right: the NFL is making an example of these guys.

    Edit: If they really want to take the edge off the violence, they would take the pads off these guys. You don't see rugby players launch themselves at other guys... When you put a helmet on some of these guys, it becomes a weapon.
  7. GWheels
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    GWheels Cheesehead

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    It's been known to go on for years among teams, the difference the Saints were stupid enough to talk about it and get caught. I'm sure Roger Go0dell sees this as an opportunity to put the hammer down so it doesn't happen again.
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  8. Valhalla Express
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    Valhalla Express SKOL VIKINGS!

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    Goodell 5:2:12. "The path of the righteous player is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil coaches, coordinators and opponents. Blessed is he who, in the name of fair play and good technique, tackles the quarterback through the numbers after wrapping him up, for he is truly a great football player and the finder of lost footballs. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy the NFL Shield through craven bounty schemes and filming other teams. And you will know my name is Roger Goodell when I lay my vengeance upon thee!”
  9. SpartaChris
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    SpartaChris Cheesehead

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    I don't know about the rest, but Hargrove signed a statement admitting to having involvement in a bounty program.
  10. SpartaChris
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    SpartaChris Cheesehead

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    They weren't just stupid enough to get caught. They were stupid enough to get caught, lie about it, then continue running the program for years while lying about it after the investigation was dropped the first time.
  11. jaybadger82
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    Nobody knows about the rest because the NFL has been so secretive with its investigation and disciplinary process in this case.
  12. SpartaChris
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    SpartaChris Cheesehead

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    Yeah, but they wouldn't just randomly suspend players without adequate proof. PFT and Peter King both report the league had an outside counsel look at their evidence before proceeding with the discipline and it was determined their evidence was pretty solid.

    We're having this discussion over at the footballpros site, and one of the posters hit it on the head as to the lack of proof released to the public:

  13. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    ...Did this anonymous poster from another site provide any links verifying the claims of his first paragraph? And how does this anonymous reporting system that the NFL has now instituted help NO players back in 2008 when their coach was telling them to hit certain guys hard as part of a program rewarding knock out hits? Where was this anonymous whistleblower system when it was needed?

    I have already read the league's vague statements concerning the suspended players. Color me unimpressed by vagaries such as "multiple independent sources." If Bensalama21 and I both claim that SpartaChris has set up a program to promote thoughtless acceptance of whatever Goodell says, that is "multiple independent sources." Think about it this way: according to multiple intelligence sources there were supposed to be weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I've never known euphemism to strengthen an argument. George Orwell agrees.

    There's a quality discussion on all of this in the video here (http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7882166/nfl-roger-goodell-had-no-choice-drop-hammer-bounty-scandal). I'll give you the CliffNotes version: Merril Hodge represents the simpleton's, after-the-fact rationalization of these suspensions. Matt Hasselbeck articulates the real problems facing players when they're told to do something by their coaches as well as the political aspects of this mess (NFL v. NFLPA). Today's Outside the Lines is also a great watch for those that recognize the complexity of these employment/labor issues.

    Goodell has handled this very well from a league perspective: The casual fan, disgusted by the Saints bounty program, will applaud the message sent by the player suspensions. After coming off like the good guy in this bounty mess, the NFL gets to continue to sidestep the very real issue of traumatic head injuries, despite growing evidence of a serious problem (most recently Junior Seau's apparent suicide). Meanwhile, the NFLPA must take the ridiculous position of defending these players because the league's processes here were inadequate by the standards of most other unionized professions.

    On the plus side, these suspensions send a message and I doubt we'll ever face another problem with bounties in the NFL again.
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  14. SpartaChris
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    He didn't post a link, but I remember reading that somewhere too, probably at PFT. My google-fu is pretty weak at the moment, as I can't seem to find a source to that item specifically without having to filter through a ton of pages discussing the Saints.

    And I wouldn't label my acceptance of the NFL's actions as "Thoughtless acceptance," for the mere fact that the NFL has absolutely nothing to gain by lying about the existence of a bounty program. I mean really, what does Gooddell have to gain by throwing one of the league's premiere franchises under the bus like this?

    As for inadequate evidence, we've already had two key members acknowledge the existence of and their participation in the program, and the 18,000 pages of evidence has been reviewed and determined solid by outside counsel. The union's statement about inadequate evidence screams of posturing to me. I get that they're doing what they should be doing in order to best protect their players, but it still screams of posturing.
  15. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    And I agree with you 100% in terms of the existence of the Saints bounty program. It's disgusting and the league had to send a message.

    I just take issue with the league's process in meting out these penalties and this is what (rightfully) concerns the NFLPA. Once again, the league has made it clear that 22 to 27 players were involved. How did the league came to assign special responsibility to the four players that were suspended while assigning no punishment whatsoever to everyone else? The league seems confident that Vilma contributed to the bounties. OK. But I'm unclear why Fujita received three games while Smith got four. What's the distinction there? Without greater information these penalties seem arbitrary. Quibling, lawyerly MFers like myself would prefer a more open, transparent process. In fact, ordinary folks prefer open, transparent processes where they work.

    I get the sense that the NFL didn't like the fact that Hargrove wouldn't implicate teammates and coaches. Considering the potential defamation suit that comes from naming names, I think it's bullshit to hand him eight games. It's all speculation when the league doesn't tell us much of anything.
  16. ThxJackVainisi
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    ThxJackVainisi Lifelong Packers Fanatic

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    jaybadger82 mentioned a very important aspect of this in post #13 IMO: The issue of traumatic head injuries looms large in the background of this story. The league won’t be able to sidestep it for much longer as former players started filing lawsuits against the NFL in December of last year alleging the NFL concealed the harmful effects of concussions. Dorsey Levens is one of the plaintiffs and he has produced a documentary on the subject of concussions titled, “Bell-Rung”. Dave Duerson’s suicide in which he shot himself in the chest in order to preserve his brain for concussion-related dementia testing and the results of that testing will be exhibit A in the suits which could be merged into a single class action. And Seau’s suicide brings the issue back into the public conscience.

    There’s no question repeated concussions cause serious health issues but the proving the NFL concealed knowledge of the extent of those problems will not be so easy. But that’s the background of bountygate. How can the NFL not “overreact” to a situation in which a team encouraged players to purposely injure opponents, while they are being sued for not taking injuries seriously enough?

    Here’s a USA Today story on the lawsuits and a preview of Leven’s documentary:
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/foot...sions-former-players-dorsey-levens/52231256/1

    - - -

    How often have we witnessed public scandals in which the cover-up caused the participants more pain and even jail time than the deeds themselves? Yet we collectively seem not to learn the lesson. I mention that with regard to Hargrove. He seems to be one of the whistle blowers but at one point lied to investigators about it. I wonder what his suspension would have been if he hadn’t covered it up with a lie. Of course that’s moot at this point but I think his obstruction of the investigation got him the second longest suspension.

    As for the proof, first I should say I haven’t read a lot about it so this is just my initial impression: The audio tape of Willams in the locker room strikes me as extremely damning as no doubt are signed statements of confession. OTOH, Mike Golic this morning cited the number of illegal hit penalties against the Saints who have been suspended while this was going on and they didn’t seem extreme to me. And he mentioned that even if the refs missed hits during the game, the league’s policy of reviewing hits sent by opposing coaches corrects for that problem. So what’s the harm if coaches and even teammates encourage dirty play intended to injure but it isn’t translated onto the field to a greater degree than any other team? Don’t get me wrong, it still deserves punishment because the conveyed intent was to injure. But at this point the short answer may be it doesn’t matter because in this environment the NFL must appear to be tough on this issue because it can’t afford not to be.
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  17. ExpatPacker
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    One of the problems that Goodell and the NFL front office are facing is something like witness protection. If they reveal their sources, those players are very likely to be ostracized and targeted by other players and coaches. Goodell is trying to avoid that. It's a dilemma because on the one hand, you have the right to face your accusers, on the other, protection of the whistle-blowers. If they reveal the names, no one will ever step up and say anything again.

    It's a tough call but the only way to be truly fair is for the evidence to be released or for an independent source to confirm it. If Vilma does fight this and threatens to sue, I don't see how they can keep the evidence secret. Vilma's lawyer could subpoena the evidence and as far as I know, would have every right to.
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  18. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    Spot on, Jack. Personally, much of my skepticism toward the league stems from the fact that they've ignored head injuries until just recently (despite having rather clear evidence of CTE amongst former players years ago). For the most part, the NFL simply pays the issue lip service. Many of the rule changes said to protect players conveniently enhance the excitement of the sport by encouraging higher-scoring games and ensuring the safety of QBs, the league's most marketable figures. However, when the league sits down to negotiate the CBA with the players' union, it uses the issue to drive a wedge between current and former players by approaching treatment programs and health services for former players as concessions.

    With the recent lawsuits, I realize the league is going to be cautious about anything that might suggest culpability on its part but the reality is that the owners derive incredible profits from a violent game that causes real, lasting health consequences for many of the people that play it.

    This bounty scandal has allowed the league to take the moral high ground while deflecting attention from the brutal nature of the sport itself to a few nasty players and coaches within the Saints organization.

    Interesting perspective from Steeler Nation that highlights how far back this goes... http://totalsteelers.com/2012/05/03/junior-seau-shows-dark-side-of-the-nfl/
  19. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    Yep, yep- all it takes is a complaint that survives summary judgment. Good lawyers can turn this into a clusterf*ck in no time.
  20. SpartaChris
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    SpartaChris Cheesehead

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    And when you consider the kid from San Francisco was receiving death threats because he fumbled a ball in the playoffs, the idea of protecting sources becomes even more important.

    If this goes to court, the league will have to release their evidence. In the meantime, I imagine they'll keep things close to the vest, as they have been. There's no need to release information for the sake of releasing it, especially if they think they'll be sued.
  21. morningwood
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    This post demonstrates the problem I have with the way Goodell has handled this publicly. He is playing a PR game, and is relying on people not reading carefully or thinking critically.

    For example, as soon as I read the league's statement about the number or documents reviewed, I knew that the NFL was playing a game. They knew that the unwary reader would read that and walk away with the impression that there were thousands of pages of "evidence."

    Let's look at what was actually said:

    "The investigation included the review of approximately 18,000 documents totaling more than 50,000 pages, interviews of a wide range of individuals and the use of outside forensic experts to verify the authenticity of key documents."

    Note, the league does NOT say how many of those documents are incriminating or how many cosnitute "evidence." All that is said is how many documents were reviewed. Ask any attorney who has ever been involved in a document review of any size and I am sure he will agree that there is usually a huge difference between what is produced in response to a request for documents and what ends up being presented as "evidence."

    To illustrate, the NFL may have very well asked for the production of "all e-mails sent or received from a franchise owned computer between 2009 - 2011." Or, "all e-mails exchanged between Gregg Williams and Sean Payton." And, "all notes from any team meeting."

    Based on the NFL's statement, all that would be required to meet the league's criteria in reporting the number of documents was that those documents were "reviewed."

    As for the outside counsel, the NFL knows that some will interpert that to be an indication that the league selected and league compensated attorney is somehow without bias. It's hard to believe that people can't see through that, but obviously the NFL's trick works on some.
  22. SpartaChris
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    SpartaChris Cheesehead

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    Please tell me, why would the league gain by making the whole thing up and lying about it? What does the NFL have to gain by giving themselves a black eye and staining the reputation of one of their premiere franchises?

    It's indisputable fact New Orleans ran a bounty program. Greg Williams admitted it. Anthony Hargrove signed an NFLPA document admitting guilt as well. So why shouldn't we take the NFL at their word that they have more than enough evidence to suspend the players involved? They have absolutely no reason to lie about it.
  23. morningwood
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    morningwood Cheesehead

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    Well first, let's stick to the issues I raised. Do you no longer want to discuss the 18,000 pages of documents or your impression that the opinion of the NFL's hired outside attorney has some special credibility?

    It really is okay to simply admit that the NFL pulled a couple of fast ones on you. After all, the NFL put a lot effort into making people believe exactly what you were saying earlier in this thread.
  24. jaybadger82
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    jaybadger82 Cheesehead

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    Sure, the league played the public relations game, puffing the volume and strength of its evidence against the implicated players (e.g., using authoritative and inauspicious phrases such as "multiple independent sources") but at the end of the day, disputing the existence of the bounty program is foolish.

    The league's motives for making an example of these players are obvious.
  25. 757Niner
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    This x 1000. I think the penalties would not have been nearly as severe nor damning if they had fussed up about it intially when the league first asked them, then warned them.

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