According to the Associated Press, the NFLPA has told players that will be interviewed by the NFL with regards to the bountygate scandal that it would be in those players’ best interests to have a lawyer and a union representative present during any meetings with the league. Are we surprised by this? No, but the suggestion underscores just how serious this matter really is.
Of the 27 possible players the NFL has said may have been involved with the bounty program instituted by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, only Jonathan Vilma has been named by the league.
Criminal prosecution still seems like a very unlikely scenario, provided of course that there’s no further evidence that would be far more damning than the evidence that has been released. A suspension, however, seems inevitable for at least some of the players involved and especially Vilma.
Roger Goodell sent a very strong message with the suspension of multiple coaches involved, especially by suspending Sean Payton for an entire year, and the indefinite suspension of Gregg Williams certainly catches everyone’s attention. The recommendation of players having a lawyer present at any bountygate related meeting with the league isn’t unexpected, and it makes good sense. There are almost certainly players involved in bountygate that deserve to be suspended and fined, but they should still be smart in their discussions with the league. A lawyer will likely prevent them from causing any more harm than they’ve already done, and they certainly don’t need to give Roger Goodell any more ammunition than he already has.