New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees called on the NFL to restart the investigation into the so-called “Bountygate” scandal during an appearance during a New York appearance on a Dick’s Sporting Goods-sponsored panel on concussions in youth sports.
“They had a conclusion that they wanted to reach, a pre-determined conclusion,” he charged. “Everything they put out there is having holes poked in it left and right. From this ledger that supposedly existed that didn’t have any names on it that was tied to this game and you go back and watch the game and none of that happened and they say ‘oh our mistake it was another game.’” (See this post on Pro Football Talk for the almost comically complicated details of what he’s talking about.)
Last week, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith sent a letter to the NFL asking that they reopen the investigation into the scandal and start from scratch. Brees is on board with that request: “They should probably start it all over and it should be a collaborative effort with the NFLPA.”
Although a representative for the event tried (perhaps ironically) to swing discussion back to the issue of youth-sports concussions, Brees seemed eager to speak about the allegations, nodding at reporters to indicate he’d take more questions on the NFL scandal.
He also slammed the NFL’s statement that Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt had put money into the scheme, calling the allegation “a lot of hearsay.” (The NFL says it has a sheet of paper with “Vitt $5,000” written on it that indicates the coach’s culpability.)
Brees charged the NFL had intimidated witnesses into cooperating with the investigation. He also questioned the credibility of statements attributed to Saints’ defensive coordinator Greg Williams, who is a key witness in the case. “I would say a lot of those coaches were living in fear of their careers if they did not cooperate and I’m not convinced some of those words and some of those statements were actually their’s,” he said.
The scandal, he acknowledged, contributed to the ongoing standoff over his contract. “I’m confident and always have been that we’ll get a long term deal,” he said. “It’s been a stressful offseason in a lot of ways, there’s been distractions for everybody.”
The two sides, he said, are getting there. “I feel like there’s been progress made over the last few weeks,” he said. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”