“When all this stuff came out, one of the first things I tweeted about was: Who snitched?” said Damien Woody, an offensive lineman for three teams over a 12-year career who now serves as an analyst for ESPN. “Because as players, we look at ourselves as part of a special fraternity. We go to battle with each other every week. And there’s only 1,600 players in the NFL; that’s not a lot. Guys know each other. Guys have special bonds. It’s a close-knit community, and people expect there to be trust.”
Shortly after the NFL announced the suspensions of Saints head coach Sean Payton, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and General Manager Mickey Loomis, those sentiments spilled into Twitter, then onto the airwaves.
Longtime defensive lineman Warren Sapp, now an analyst for the NFL Network, tweeted that he knew the identity of what he referred to as the “snitch” in the case. When a reader suggested the name of tight end Jeremy Shockey, who played with New Orleans from 2008-10, Sapp responded, “Bingo!”
Shockey immediately took to Twitter, and later to interviews, to deny the charge and defend himself. But the idea that revealing such programs is nearly as serious a crime as running them became apparent when the NFL initially announced its investigation into the Saints’ program this month. Shortly thereafter, former New Orleans safety Darren Sharper told a Philadelphia radio station that the revelation “kind of appalls and upsets me.”
“To tell what’s going on inside a room when we’re a family and everything that happens within that room should stay in that room, I’m upset about that,” Sharper said.
When several current and former Redskins spoke with The Post about the existence of Williams’s pay-for-performance system during his tenure as defensive coordinator in Washington from 2004-07, only two would allow their names to be used, and they have since declined further comment.
The what-happens-here-stays-here mantra, though, isn’t embraced by everybody. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, an outspoken voice on a wide range of topics about his sport, profanely admonished “everyone who thinks the source was a ‘snitch’ and a bad person” on Twitter.
“Try doing the right thing for once and standing up for what’s important in life — the proper treatment of your fellow man,” Kluwe wrote while rejecting, among other things, what he considered the “short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrisy” that allowed players to close ranks.
Some outsiders believe the players’ culture of isolation doesn’t serve them well.