The NFL has in its possession a "ledger" used by the New Orleans Saints to track the team's pay for performance system, which includes player bounties, according to a report from Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports.
Cole's report cites two separate sources with knowledge of the NFL investigation into the bounty program in claiming the league has this "ledger." The document includes unofficial fines for player mistakes as well as money for "cart-offs" and "whacks" that were part of the bounty program. Those same sources said that the NFL showed portions of this ledger to individuals investigated in the bounty program.
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told Cole that the NFL "made mention" of the ledger in an April meeting between the two parties. Atallah said that the NFLPA had not actually seen it.
The Saints bounty scandal was revealed in early March when the NFL released a report detailing the findings of the league's investigation. Since then, the NFLPA has contended that the league is not affording players involved in the matter proper due process, including given the accused the opportunity to see the evidence. Atallah stood by that assertion in a text message to Cole about 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.
The existence of such a document could be a problem for players claiming that they did not participate in a bounty program as alleged by the NFL. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, suspended for the entire season, is suing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation over his statements made about the bounty program.
The existence of such a ledger would appear to undermine any claims that players were not involved in the program.
Denials of the bounty program also run counter to an assertion made by filmmaker Sean Pamphilon in a Thursday night blog post. Pamphilon was the filmmaker who released audio of Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' exhortations to injure players from the 49ers in a January 2012 playoff game. In his blog post, Pamphilon details a discussion between linebacker Scott Fujita, quarterback Drew Brees and the NFLPA to release the audio as part of an effort to shift blame for the bounty program onto Williams and the coaches.
On Wednesday, the NFLPA argued in front of league special master Stephen Burbank that the bounty punishments should be handled as a cap issue because such payments constitute non-contract payments. That would put the matter in front of Burbank instead of Goodell, who has handled it as a player conduct issue. The existence of this ledger may undermine outright denials of player involvement, but it could play into the union's argument that the pay for performance program falls under Burbank's jurisdiction as a cap matter.
The NFL said in late May that it would consider releasing some of the evidence against players in the bounty scandal. The league has resisted requests to make the evidence known on the basis of protecting its sources.