Report: Saints kept "ledger" of bounty earnings
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints talks to Jonathan Vilma (51) during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on Oct. 31, 2010 in New Orleans, La. / Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images
(CBS/AP) The New Orleans Saints kept a "ledger" tallying cash payments for players involved in the team's bounty system, sources familiar with the NFL's evidence told Yahoo Sports.
The league has a copy of the record book, which reportedly lists the cash doled out for "cart-offs" and "whacks" as well as money deducted for "mental errors," Yahoo Sports reported.
The NFL has previously said it found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams oversaw a bounty program in New Orleans from 2009 to 2011 which paid off-the-books bonuses of $1,500 for "knockouts," or hits which forced a player out of games, and $1,000 for "cart-offs," which left players needing help off the field.
According to the Yahoo Sports sources, the league showed portions of the ledger to some of the figures investigated in the bounty scandal. However, NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah told Yahoo Sports that the NFLPA had not been shown the ledger.
"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," Atallah wrote in a text message to Yahoo Sports.
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expected evidence in the bounties case would be made public after all the player appeals and grievances have been heard.
On Thursday, Goodell said he was confident that bounty hunting will no longer be an issue in the NFL because of the severe penalties handed out in the wake of the scandal.
Goodell said the actions taken by the league "speak very loudly."
"I heard that from our clubs, from our personnel," he said during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday. "They recognize it's not part of the game. It doesn't need to be part of the game. And I don't think it's going to be an issue going forward."
Williams, who took a job as the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, has since been suspended indefinitely and coach Sean Payton was banished for the 2012 season. General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games.
There was also a $500,000 fine for the team and the loss of two second-round draft picks, not to mention suspensions for several current and former Saints players.
Current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the upcoming season, while defensive end Will Smith got a four-game punishment. Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) were also punished.
The NFL Players Association has challenged Goodell's power to impose penalties and has asked an arbitrator to decide if the players should be punished for the system.
Goodell would not say if he thought the case would be resolved before the end of the season, pointing out that it's in arbitration.
It's one of several areas where the union has challenged the league during a combative offseason, including a grievance accusing the NFL of using a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost the players at least $1 billion. The union also filed a grievance for drug-related suspensions for two Denver Broncos.
Vilma has filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, whose lawyers requested a delay to respond, something the league calls routine in such cases.
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