“Commissioner Goodell Has Made a Dreadful Mistake”

16 Jun

Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of Jonathan Vilma’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg.  Basically sums this whole thing up, though, doesn’t it?  Here’s a few other things he had to say, all according to Jim Varney at the Times Picayune:

Dude...like, why would the NFL lie, man?

“Unfortunately, what it says to me is Commissioner Goodell has made a dreadful mistake. After what Jonathan and the other players have been put through, to suggest the players are being presented with any kind of fair hearing based on what has been presented today is pure fantasy. [...] The thin production today doesn’t link any of the players to a bounty system, and that’s consistent with what we know to be true – there was no bounty system.”

On no witnesses being produced by the league: “That’s because there are no credible witnesses who could substantiate the commissioner’s allegations.”

On the $10,000 Favre bounty accusation against Vilma: “There could be nothing credible about that because it never happened.”

“Jonathan wants to participate in a fair forum. What unfolds Monday is what unfolds Monday.”

What unfolds Monday is what unfolds Monday.

If you’re lost right now, because maybe you clicked this link on Facebook or Twitter out of sheer curiosity as to what your Saints fan friend is so fucking mad about (and why the hell he’s screaming about Goodell in all caps), here’s the deal: Jonathan Vilma, along with Smith, Fujita, and Hargrove, has his appeal hearing Monday, and Friday was the deadline for the league to serve the players and their lawyers with any and all “evidence” that will be presented at the hearing.

According to Mike Florio (here) and Jim Varney (here), the evidence consists, at least in part, of the following:

– Fewer than 200 pages of documents (out of the reported 50,000 that the league collected in the 3-year investigation.

– Sean Pamphilon’s rambling account of the circumstances concerning the release of the Gregg Williams audio weeks ago

– An interview of Scott Shanle by Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune

– The famous Ornstein email, which includes a P.S. asking Payton to put 5,000 on a cart-off of Aaron Rodgers

– Some handwritten notes and Powerpoint presentations (who knows what these contain)

– Quotes from Gregg Williams (that we’ve already heard ad nauseum)

So, the league’s “evidence,” reportedly, consists of two online articles that were written after bounty punishments were handed out, one in which Shanle defends himself (even the author sees that as ridiculous), and the other written by someone calling himself the “Bipolar Sports Poet” (who, notably, has repeatedly professed his belief in the innocence of both Fujita and Vilma); a speech from a defensive coordinator two years after the investigation began; an email from a convicted, jailed felon; and some slideshows.

What’s missing?

– Anything concerning Vilma’s $10,000 wager in 2009

– Anything tying any player to any specific bounty or injury reward other than typical “pay-for-performance” pools

– The famous “ledger” that was supposed to be the nail in the players’ coffins

Just, wow.

I understand the league wasn’t obligated to produce ALL evidence, just the evidence that will be presented at the hearing.  But if there is damning evidence that won’t be presented at the hearing Monday, then what does that tell us about the legitimacy of the system through which they must appeal?

I’m amazed that this thing has gone this far, without the league offering to the public (or to the NFLPA, apparently) one shred of real proof that the players did anything wrong, or that Gregg Williams’s statements were taken as anything but hyperbole, or that any money ever exchanged hands.  Yet, some in the media would have you still take the NFL at its word.  Why would the NFL lie?  I don’t know.  But isn’t it clear, by now, that they’ve at least exaggerated the shit out of this whole thing?

The coaches had no option but to roll over out of fear of reprisal.  The league could have stopped there. But, no, Goodell had to wield his mighty sword of justice and take out a few players while he was at it.  The problem?  Even the media is starting to realize what a sham this entire thing was, and in a twist no Saints fan ever saw coming, Florio is leading the charge.

What unfolds Monday is what unfolds Monday.  We know what the result will be, don’t we?  Goodell will listen, “consider” for a couple of days, and come back with a kangaroo court version of a guilty verdict, upholding his own suspensions.

So let’s not get carried away and expect some victory Monday.  This is probably just the next step toward Vilma’s lawsuit, so it is what it is.

The victory here, folks, is a win for common sense, for questioning of authority, for refusing to shill for the league machine.  For months now, idiot bloggers like myself, and fans on message boards and twitter, have been called crazy, overemotional people who can’t think clearly.  The league just couldn’t have a reason to lie, it just makes no sense.  The NFL says there’s evidence, so there must be – nothing to see here, folks.  Oh, wait, here’s your evidence: a slideshow! Get the fuck out.

I’ve said all along that I would accept the evidence if the players were guilty, move on, and embrace the dark side for 2012. Part of me longs for that – it would be so much easier and so much more fun. But the players shouldn’t be sacrificed at the league’s altar to preserve the bigwigs from lawsuits, unless they’re legitimately guilty of, well…something.  We haven’t seen it yet, and no league “source” can confirm it to me without giving me something tangible.

The Legitimates I speak of will never read this – I’m just a blogger.  I don’t get paid to do this, I have a job that has nothing to do with news, and I don’t have a fancy Journalism-with-a-capital-J degree.  History was my thing, actually.  But maybe that is part of what forms the divide here – in History, we’re taught not to take a secondary source at its word – we should look at the motivation of the writer or speaker, what forms his opinions.  This is called “internal criticism.”  When Caesar writes that the barbarian hordes are an ununified, human-sacrificing, drunken heathen nation, we don’t assume it is true.  We look for primary sources among the barbarians, and when we can’t find one, we question Caesar.  He was writing for a Roman audience, so perhaps his nationalism and political motives drove some of his opinions. What does he stand to gain here?

And we conclude that, while it does offer valuable information, there’s a good chance Caesar can tell us more about Caesar and Rome than about the barbarians themselves.

When, on the other hand, the league tells us that the evidence is solid, “just trust us on that,” I question their motives, and their absolute motivation to lie if it isn’t true at this juncture.  When Peter Ginsberg says it’s a load of crap, we have to do the same thing, right? But if there is solid evidence out there, who stands to gain by hiding it?  Only the players.  Why, then, would the NFL hide anything? Why don’t they produce?

It seems a perfectly logical train of thought to me, and it seems only natural that a trained journalist would question these things, instead of acting as a shill for the league’s propoganda.  But that’s not what has happened.  That’s why Friday was a win for us, and for the players, and for the truth.  Because if there was real evidence, you better believe it would have been leaked.  The league is excellent at manipulating the media, and it would be easy to get it out there and turn public opinion instantly in their favor.

So here’s the lesson, folks (if you’ve made it this far through my tin-foil rant): if you want to go into Journalism, take a few History classes along the way.  Then, maybe the next generation of Legitimate Media won’t make such goddamn fools out of themselves by writing stuff like this:

 

 

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3 Responses to ““Commissioner Goodell Has Made a Dreadful Mistake””

  1. Philip H. Anselmo June 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Excellent, excellnt friggin’ blog there Angry…. I’m glad I read it.
    I’m friends with Shanle, probably more so than any other Saint on the team, and we’ve shot the shit over this whole situation…
    Ridiculous.
    And although I feel bad about being beer drunk and on the hippie lettuce when I made a recent rant that went viral, I meant every dad-blasted word.
    Keep choking ‘em to death Angry.
    I’m on your side: the side of the Black and Gold!
    Hail brother-
    PA

    • The Angry Who Dat June 17, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Shit, a celebrity commenter, and a gen-u-ine angry fucking Who Dat of a celebrity at that. We’ll get the truth eventually. Glad you like the blog. I’ve seen the video, and I loved every second of it.
      Stay angry,
      AWD

      • Philip H. Anselmo June 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

        You got it Angry!!!!!!!
        I wouldn’t piss on Goodell if he was a-blaze in the northern sky….
        Keep up the good fight there Angry….
        I’ll spread THE word, and YOUR word!
        PA

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