Every time we try to put Bountygate behind us, it finds a way of resurrecting itself as it did yesterday when news broke that Jonathan Vilma was suing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation.
I share an unpopular opinion that many believe is overly critical, but it’s an opinion I’ll stick to. The Saints are in no way a victim of circumstance, and Vilma’s lawsuit highlights that sense of entitlement that seems to be felt within the Saints organization and even within their fanbase. Come on people. The Saints did the crime; now they have to serve the time.
It’s an unpopular opinion that will likely have some of my readers up in arms, but it’s an opinion that is also shared, at least in some part by PFT‘s Mike Florio, and to a greater extent CBS Sports‘ Mike Freeman.
Yes, I realize that the NFL has not released the damning evidence that we’ve heard exists against the Saints, but it is safe to assume that the evidence does exist. If we are to believe that the Saints really are innocent and a victim of an NFL conspiracy, we also must inherently believe that the NFL would stake all of its credibility and popularity on throwing one of its own organizations under the bus, all the while pointing out despicable actions by players of the league. To put that in simpler terms, Bountygate has not made the NFL better in any way, and it’s probably driven some casual fans away from the game. There’s no advantage to exposing a team like the NFL did. In fact it would have been much easier for the NFL to bury Bountygate and pretend it never happened.
I’ve been relatively diplomatic about this issue until now. Do I think the NFL is hiding evidence that doesn’t exist? No. I think the NFL is hiding the evidence because revealing that evidence would also reveal their sources, and the league doesn’t want to punish the people that came forward with valuable information.
I’m no judge, and I had no say in the punishments the commissioner handed down to the Saints’ coaches and players. My job is to voice opinions and analyze the events, and it seems to me that the Saints need to quit playing the victim card. They’re not the victims. The victims are players that were on the receiving end of unnecessary hits by the Saints in their effort to knock opposing players out of the game.