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With player penalties handed out, and the NFLPA's intent to challenge these penalties evident, we have to ask ourselves what cards the NFL is holding to prove their case. There seems to be a consensus among the experts that Roger Goodell MUST have very strong evidence to support the extreme measures taken against the players. But what might this strong evidence entail?
Video and/or audio evidence probably doesn't exist, otherwise it would have surfaced by now. It's also probably safe to assume that there are no financial statements which detail a transfer of funds among Saints defenders following the 2009 playoff games in question. This leaves us with personal accounts as the strongest evidence available.
The question then becomes: Who among the Saints 2009 staff would have the incentive (more importantly the credibility) to finger the Saints defenders for the NFL? The answer seems pretty clear: Greg Williams.
As we all know Greg Williams has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. In order to get back in the NFL's graces, Coach Williams will undoubtedly be ordered to perform a penance of some sort. This will include denouncing his past actions, speaking to youth about the importance of safety in football, etc. But beyond the standard redemption tour stops, what better gift could Williams provide to the NFL than to solidify their case against the players identified in the bounty program?
Also remember that Saints coaches have not been to kind to Coach Williams in their own appealing of suspensions. In their defense, the coaches' lawyers argued that Williams was a rogue coach who was warned repeatedly to end the program but continued and hid the program from Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Micky Loomis. If Williams were miffed by this characterization it could give him even more reason to support the NFL's case.
Seeing as how Coach Williams was the architect of the bounty program, who else in the Saints organization would have more credibility regarding the program? Outside of calling Coach Williams a liar, it would be very hard for the accused Saints players to discredit challenge Coach Williams should he choose to back the NFL's claims.
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Tags: bountygate, nfl, roger goodell