The NFL released a bundle of evidence in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal on Friday afternoon as required for Monday's appeal hearing with the four suspended players. Mike Freeman, who is covering the appeal for CBS Sports, got his hands on that evidence. He shared some observations on Monday that cast some doubts on the power of that evidence.
Perhaps the most telling summation of the evidence from Freeman, was this:
To me, from what I've read with my own two eyes, this isn't proof. That doesn't mean the NFL doesn't have it, it just means this isn't it.— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) June 18, 2012
The NFL was not required to hand over all of its evidence in the case. The collective bargaining agreement only stipulates that the league allow players and their representatives to see evidence that points to their guilt, which makes Freeman's claim that much more stunning.
Freeman said that the most revealing items were handwritten notes showing bounty amounts. There was also a note that said "qb out pool" and listed a $5,000 contribution from assistant coach Joe Vitt, who was suspended for the first six games of the season.
The league invited former Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to review its evidence, and White signed off it, noting that it was particularly incriminating. However, NFL officials have claimed that releasing the evidence would compromise its sources for the investigation.
Freeman added in his analysis that the league could well be holding onto additional evidence indicting the four players, but that evidence was not included in the bundle released on Friday, according to Freeman.