The NFL and the players’ union appear to be at odds over the sharing of information regarding the league’s investigation into the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints.
Disciplinary measures against the players most heavily involved in the Saints’ bounty system remain pending. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday in Palm Beach, Fla., at the conclusion of the annual league meeting that he hoped to receive a recommendation from the union by the end of this week about prospective disciplinary actions against players in the bounty case.
But in an interview published Friday on the Web site Pro Player Insiders, which is affiliated with the union, DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said: “As of yet, they haven’t turned over anything that we would consider to be direct evidence of player involvement in a ‘pay to injure’ scheme that we could consider for discipline. It’s very hard to have a productive discussion about punishment when one side has kept, to itself, all the information.
“What I would expect is to have a conversation soon and certainly it would be our expectation that the request for all information, as it relates to particular players, will be provided before any discipline takes place,” Smith said.
The league did not have a direct response. But a person familiar with the interaction between the two sides said the league contacted the union Friday and renewed a weeks-old invitation for union representatives to meet with league officials at the NFL’s offices in New York regarding the case.
The person said the league has offered to make members of the NFL’s security staff available to the union to discuss the investigation that those security staffers conducted. The league already has sent two detailed, confidential reports about the bounty investigation to the union, the person said, adding that those reports also were sent to the 32 NFL teams but were not released to the public. The league continues to seek input from the union on disciplinary measures against players involved in the bounty program, the person said.
But Smith said in Friday’s interview with the union-affiliated Web site: “It’s a very, at least from our perspective . . . unfair situation where you have a number of allegations floating back and forth in the press. There certainly appears to be some information that’s been provided to the media about certain individuals’ involvement. . . . It’s difficult for those players to be in a situation where they can hardly defend themselves from unsubstantiated accusations that are being made in the public.
“If there is direct evidence of a ‘pay to injure’ scheme implicating players or anybody involved, we are asking the league to turn over that information,” Smith said.
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