Independent counsel says evidence gathered by NFL strongly implicates players - NFL News
National Football League (NFL) on Wednesday announced punishments for four players involved in the bounty scandal.
The notice from the league drew a strong response from both players and the union NFL Players Association (NFLPA) who called into question the evidence used by commissioner, Roger Goodell, to suspend the players.
However, an independent counsel hired by the league to evaluate its investigations rejected the assertions made by the players and the union and said that evidence gathered by the league strongly implicated the players in involvement in the illegal Saints programme.
Former U.S attorney, Mary Jo White, talked to the press through a conference call on Thursday and said that the evidence in the hands of the NFL is irrefutable.
According to ESPN.com she said.
"The factual basis for the sanctions is quite strong in my opinion. You must safeguard the identity of people that provide information to you in order to protect them, and also to encourage others in the future to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing. This is certainly not a one-on-one, he-said, she-said record at all. This is multiple independent sources."
The NFLPA contended that the league had not shared any information it had gathered in its investigations into the bounty programme with the union and said on Wednesday, that they are prepared to defend the players and will help them in their appeals against the punishment.
White though said that the evidence is strong that all players embraced the bounty programme enthusiastically and they did not report the illegal activity even to the union when they had the option.
"The players sanctioned all activity and enthusiastically embraced this program. They always had the option to say no. They didn't say no.”
On Wednesday, Goodell suspended four players for their involvement in the bounty scandal.
Saints linebacker and defensive line captain, Jonathan Vilma was given the harshest punishment as he was suspended for the entirety of the 2012-13 season without pay.
Former Saints players which include defensive lineman, Anthony Hargrove and linebacker, Scott Fujita received eight and three-game suspensions while Saints defensive end, Will Smith received a four-game suspension by the league.
All four players are expected to appeal their suspensions soon.