All along the Saints—particularly the litigious Jonathan Vilma—have called upon the NFL to release whatever evidence they collected in investigating the Saints bounty scandal. This isn't that release, but if it's one of those "official leaks," it's just as good. Apparently the Saints kept a ledger that detailed weekly earnings for hard hits and injuries, and the league has a copy of this ledger. That's bad news for any players still sticking to the "it didn't happen" line.
Yahoo has the report, coming from "two sources with knowledge of the NFL's evidence," which means either someone in the Park Avenue offices, or owners who were shown the ledger.
In the ledger, payments of $1,000 for cart-offs (a hit that resulted in a player being helped off the field), $400 for whacks (hard hits) and $100 deductions for mental errors were kept track of for each player.
Two specific entries for the 2009 season were shown during one meeting. In a game at Buffalo on Sept. 27, 2009, there were three $1,000 awards. In a game against the New York Giants on Oct. 18, there was a $1,000 bounty awarded for one cart-off. [Ed note: In that Giants game, tackle Kareem McKenzie was taken off on a cart with a strained groin, which hardly seems like it should qualify.]
There was also a notation that after one game an opposing player who had been carted off was placed on injured reserve. The notation of the player on IR included an exclamation mark.
I love the little oomph of the exclamation point. Maybe needed a smiley face too.
The ledger is news to George Atallah, NFLPA spokesman, and that's kind of weird considering four players were suspended based at least in part on the existence of this document. But NFL court isn't Common Law; the accused don't have to see the evidence against them. This is a unilateral investigation, trial and sentencing, and the players do not get an advocate until the appeals process. That's unsettling, but presumably the league isn't dumb enough to open itself up to actual lawsuits by coming down on something they weren't sure about. This ledger isn't going to be the first piece of evidence leaked.