New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees joined the chorus of players and others criticizing the NFL's handling of player discipline in the Saints bounty scandal. In an appearance on WFAN in New York, Brees described the league's approach as "guilty until proven innocent" and questioned the evidence being used against the players.
"I certainly don't feel the investigation was fair or that it was due process or that it was the attitude or it was innocent until proven guilty. In fact I feel like it was quite the opposite. Guilty until proven innocent. We're going to hand out punishments prior to even talking to the players and we're going to do this investigation to lead us to a desired conclusion that we have already established in our minds as opposed to just gathering the facts or making sure it's real evidence or it's real facts."
The NFL revealed some of the evidence it says proves the existence of a bounty program in New Orleans to a handful of reporters following an appeal by the four suspended players, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma. Echoing the suspended players and others, Brees said that the evidence did not directly point to any wrongdoing by the suspended players.
"It's not just a tape or an audio that has a bunch of tough talk on it or that it's a ledger that doesn't have any names on it and when you try to figure out what game it was you guess wrong the first two times you say it was a certain game, it's just misstep after misstep with their evidence and none of it I feel like is valid and none of it proves that there was money changing hands in a paid injury scheme that involved the guys accused. We're talking about guy's careers and reputations and livelihood and good guys too."
Brees' name has come up in the bounty narrative as an intermediary in the decision to release filmmaker Sean Pamphilon's audio tape of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' fiery exhortation to players the night before a January 2012 playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers in which he encouraged players to "kill the head" of specific opponents.
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